In all cities, New York, London or even Tokyo, all of these cities have the different characteristics and is describe by people in different ways. New York to some that never lived there might think that the city never sleeps and is heavily populated by people from all around the world, while London on the other hand could be clean and has a less dense population than New York or even Tokyo could just be a messy city and unorganized. People have their own ways in describing things from their own perspective. Now some of these descriptions could be true but however, this city in the poem My City by James Weldon Johnson describes his city he lives in and shows many characteristics about the city; good or bad.
As how James Weldon Johnson describes the city in his poem, he goes across describing about how his city has destroyed the natural environment around him (“…. no more I shall see the trees, or smell the flowers or hear the singing birds.”)(Line 5-6) In this phrase it seems that the city he’s describing is cutting down more trees and clearing the area around the city, using the land to build more buildings and avoid overcrowding issues – destroying natural habitat for more land usage for us humans. But then he goes on about the smell of the city and the sights that are in the city (“But, ah! Manhattan’s sights and sounds, her smells…. Her shinning towers, her avenues”)(Line 9-12) According to this phrase, he loves seeing the skyscrapers and the streets in the city. It seems to me that he loves to see life in this city of his, like the people (“…Her crowds”)(Line 10) During line 9-12, he tells us what he loves about the city of Manhattan and how no other cities would replace the city (To be dead, and never again behold my city!)(Line 14)
Though James W. Johnson misses seeing nature around him (“Will it be no more I shall see the tress…”)(Line 5) He still loves Manhattan and her characteristics she has throughout the city. Not only does the poem talks about tall skyscrapers, and the smell of the city, but it talks about the city having slums in the city itself (“…Her shinning towers, her avenues, her slums”)(Line 12); Not many poem writers that are writing a poem about how beautiful and how much they miss the city includes the slums in their poem. I found quite interesting coming out from a poem like this. Not only did the author talk about the beautiful things in the city he loves, he talks about the things that not many people notice in the city of Manhattan; the slums. When people think of Manhattan, they think of a city that symbolizes New York City, and the big, tall skyscrapers and all those taxis on the street waiting for customers to hop in, but however, not many people think about the slums in the city.
The conclusion is that James Weldon Johnson writes about the city of Manhattan in a way that not many people would have wrote about a city like Manhattan. Having including the “slums” in the poem makes the reader think that the author is not bias and not only find favors in the city he wrote about.