His Wants and Her Heart

Personal Response to James Weldon Johnson’s “Art vs. Trade”


the thump of her beating heart vibrates

within it pumps warm and rich

blood circulating life, soul, meaning:

thump and –



the fine lyricism of harmonious notes bind

together enrooted in her veins

carrying blood throughout:

thump and –



extended notes and sounds form the

jazzed music, expressing what words cannot

and what the heart yearns for:

thump and –



indifference and an isolated vagueness

is felt.


He is felt and His desires.

what He wants.

the warm blood runs

cold; unable to find its way:



His presence absorbs

the entirety of the heart:

an overwhelming force.


the wants, needs, and

clinks drive Them now;

and the notes?

now, it’s just another crying

plea under:

clink and



For my personal response, I decided to compose a poem called “His Wants and Her Heart.” For this piece, I wanted to play with the same themes and ideas woven in “Art Vs. Trade,” by James Weldon Johnson. For example, just as Johnson created a major conflict between the greedy nature of “Trade” and the naiveness of “Art,”  as accentuated through the use of pronouns, I wanted to use the contrast between masculinity and feminity as well; in my poem, I used masculinity to portray the role of men partaking in selfish trade and business – as well, in the final stanza, I refer to the men as “Them” to generalize all men as being one entity that are accountable for the violent pursuit of “Trade.” To further drive the idea of masculine dominance and priority, I capitalized any male pronouns and the word “Them.” On the contrary, female pronouns were kept uncapitalized, stylistically, to further depict a woman’s fragile vulnerability and their powerless nature against the will of men – and in this case, how “Art” is oppressed by the “Trade” that occurs.  For my emulation, I also wanted to play with the imagery of a beating heart and the clinking of coins; I further depicted their contrast through sound words that were the “clinks” and the “thumps” at the end of each stanza. These two symbols serve to reinforce the contrast between “Trade” and “Art” as the heart represents the meaning of life as manifested through music and “Art;” meanwhile, the coins symbolize the inhuman nature that “Trade” holds. Lastly, I played with music and notes to further show the original innocent divineness of music and show its progression to its eventual desperate crying under the oppression of its persecutor: “Trade.”


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