Poem analysis- Go Down, Moses by Louis Armstrong

Poem analysis- Go Down, Moses by Louis Armstrong

I am working on Go Down, Moses, American Folksong. I chose this poem because it is easy to understand. The poem is very educative in that it has religious facts. The poem is two in one. It uses the first part to symbolize the second part. The first part is the life of Israelites in the life of bondage in Egypt. On the other hand, the second part is the life of Christians in bondage of the Devil. The Canaan which is the destination for Israelites is used symbolically to represent eternal life in the second part of the poem. I would like my instructor to identify my strength and weaknesses. According to me, I have done the work to my best.


Go Down, Moses

The setting of the story is the life of the people of Israel in bondage. God commissions Moses to tell pharaoh to let His people go. God as a master is caring about his subjects and is not impressed with the life Israelites live in Egypt. It is said that Israelites are oppressed and live a hard life in Egypt. In the poem, God confronts pharaoh through Moses which means that He is more powerful than him. We also deduce from the poem that Moses is a servant of God. God speaks to Pharaoh and Israelite through Moses. Moses is also loyal to God. This is seen when he does not object to perform Gods mission. The repetition of “Go down, Moses”, reveals a lot about the situation in Egypt. It implies that Pharaoh is a dictator and cannot easily allow the Israelites to get away from Egypt (Mathew, p. 234). Therefore, the repetition is meant to encourage Moses to face Pharaoh.

We also deduce that God punishes those who do not obey His orders. He threatens that He would kill the firstborns if Pharaoh does not allow Israelites to get away. God seems to be fed up with the bondage life of Israelites. The poem reveals that Israelites were not living a good life there and were being oppressed. The repetition of “Let my people go” shows that God is not ready to compromise his decision. In addition, He does not give a chance for negotiation. The poet terms Egypt to be “proud”. This means that they looked down upon Israelites as well as discriminated them. Israelites were not in their land but they had their home (Mathew, p. 43). The poem does not explain what led Israelites to be in Egypt. It can be deduced that one can be tortured in a foreign land. Israelites lack freedom while living in Egypt. It is shown that they are under the control of Pharaoh while they are in Egypt.

We realize from the poem that God trusts Moses. He commissions Moses and Aaron to lead Israelites. The poem portrays God as a supernatural being and cannot just speak to anybody but speaks to the selected people. As the leader, Moses uses instructions given to him by God. God tells him to take his rod and stretch it on the sea. This is done to enable Israelites to cross the Red sea. The God in the poem is a miraculous God. He orders for extraordinary events. For instance, Moses stretches the rod and water separates to give way for Israelites to pass (Wagner, p. 89). The use of extraordinary events in the poem is meant to show that God is a supernatural being and has special powers. Pharaoh is depressed about the departure of Israelites; he says that he wants to follow them. God assures Moses that they would not get lost. He promises to guide them using a cloud in the wilderness. Pharaoh could not succeed in going after Israelites. He and his people get lost because they do not receive guidance from the supernatural being. It revealed that the destined home for Israelites is the land of Canaan.

The poem then suddenly shifts to include Christians as characters. It relates the life of Israelites in bondage to that of Christians in the world. For Christians, there is a different leader. God uses Christ to deliver Christians from the life of bondage in the world. The statement “What a beautiful morning that will be……When life breaks up in eternity” shifts the destination (Mathew, p. 67). For Israelites, the destination was Canaan, while for Christians, the destination is eternity. The master of bondage for Israelites is Pharaoh while the master of bondage for Christians is the devil.

The poem relates two different groups of people, the Israelites and Christians. Otherwise, they share one master who cares for them. The poem also reveals that qualifying for the Promised Land in Christianity is not automatic (Wagner, p. 56). One has to make some decisions to enjoy eternal life. Removing of shoes is symbolic. It means dropping of worldly pleasures as well as sin. Canaan is used in two ways in the poem. The first use is that it is the real Promised Land for Israelites. The second use of Canaan is as a symbol for the Promised Land to Christians which is eternal life.

Works Cited:

Mathew, Abraham. Glimps of English Literature. New Delhi: Cyber Tech Publications, 2011. Print.

Wagner, Patrick. Poetry Analysis. Clayton, South Vic: Learning Essentials, 2003. Print.