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Black LandImperial Ethiopianism and African America$
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Nadia Nurhussein

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691190969

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691190969.001.0001

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Recognizing the Ethiopian Flag

Recognizing the Ethiopian Flag

Chapter:
(p.21) Chapter One Recognizing the Ethiopian Flag
Source:
Black Land
Author(s):

Nadia Nurhussein

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691190969.003.0002

This chapter uncovers the beginnings of a more grounded Ethiopianism in its treatment of nineteenth-century lyric verse by Walt Whitman, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and others written on the topic of Ethiopia, when abstract Ethiopianism was a prominent ideology in African America. It addresses the politics of Walt Whitman's poem, particularly in the poem's “recognition” of the Ethiopian flag, in light of the press's treatment of the Anglo-Abyssinian conflict. Paul Laurence Dunbar's interpretation of the Ethiopian flag's symbolic value, in “Ode to Ethiopia” and “Frederick Douglass,” positions him uncomfortably alongside Whitman, a poet he found distasteful. His poems present an “Ethiopia” invigorated with nationalism and, unexpectedly, with militarism. The chapter also talks about two poems about Emperor Tewodros by women: “Magdala,” which appeared in the 1875 book Songs of the Year and Other Poems by “Charlton,” and “The Death of King Theodore,” in E. Davidson's 1874 The Death of King Theodore and Other Poems.

Keywords:   Ethiopianism, Walt Whitman, Paul Laurence Dunbar, African America, Ethiopian flag, Anglo-Abyssinian conflict, Ode to Ethiopia, Frederick Douglass, Magdala, Charlton

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