Poetry And Langston Hughes Essay

This essay has a total of 1389 words and 6 pages.

Poetry And Langston Hughes


Poetry and the World of Langston Hughes
Langston Hughes enchanted the world as he threw the truth of the pain that the Negro
society had endured into most of his works. He attempted to make it clear that society in
America was still undeniably racist. For example, Conrad Kent Rivers declared, "Oh if muse
would let me travel through Harlem with you as the guide, I too, could sing of black
America" (Rampersad 297). From his creativity and passion for the subject matter, he has
been described as one of the most penetrating and captivating writers in the history of
humankind. He also was described as "quite possibly the most grossly misjudged poet of
major importance in America" (Jemie 187). He entrances you into his poetry, and at the
same time, reveals the "nitty-gritty" truth in modern society. His works do not all
contain the same attitude, but do have the same concepts of the lives of the common black
folk (ALCU 313). "The Negro Speaks of Rivers"1 and "Harlem (A Dream Deferred)"2 are two
examples of Langston Hughes' artistry in poetic expression that can be dissimilar while
still expressing the same views on the tribulations of African-Americans.

"Harlem (A Dream Deferred)" is short, to the point and opens up Langston Hughes' world of
symbolism. In writing this, Mr. Hughes used symbolism so extensively that when most
individuals read it, they do not grasp the true intent of each word. The images that
Hughes conveys in Harlem are "sensory, domestic, earthly, like blues images" (Jemie 78).
It possesses an aggressive attitude and displays the harsh reality of the world in which
colored people live. He uses five objects that almost deceive the reader: a raisin, a
sore, meat, a sweet, and a load. "Each object is seen from the outside and not fully
apprehended" (Berry 132). Hughes uses personification on the raisin and the sore to force
the reader into using an open mind. The raisin symbolizes the African-American in that
he/she has fallen from a prosperous vine and has been used and ignored in the dominate
white society with the inclination that he/she will "rot and disappear." The "raisin"
refuses its destiny and becomes an irritating "sore" that will not recede in the white
culture. The "sore" begins to "stink"(or cause a burden for the white society). This
"stink" coincides to the stench of "rotten meat sold to many black folks in ghetto
groceries" (Jemie 78). The "sweet" represents the kind of candy that is yearned for and
satisfying. Ironically, the "sweet" turns out to be yet another disappointment. It leaves
a thick taste as the good taste of the spoiled sweet goes away.

The deferred dream consists of little things of no great effect individually. Once bound
up together, they create an immense tension. The tension builds as time goes by and
becomes overwhelming for anyone to handle for an extensive amount of time. This is the
"load," or the accumulation of little things able to be handled when all combined. The
"load" over time begins to drag the individual down or cause them to "sag." If the little
things cannot be contained, then the individual drops the "load." Once dropped, the
immense tension is able to "explode" from the harshness of the reality rolled up inside
it.

"The Negro Speaks of Rivers" is perhaps Langston Hughes' most profound and "most often
quoted poem" (Berry 29). The concept is of an individuals' soul that has endured through
the ages of time and has been able to see the role changes of African-Americans. It uses
repetitious statements throughout, and one of these statements also concludes it: "My soul
has grown deep like the rivers" (McMahon, Day, and Funk 589). "It is a sonorous evocation
of transcedent essences so ancient as to appear timeless, predating human existence,
longer than human memory" (Jemie 103). This poem utilizes symbolism at great extent. For
example, the rivers symbolize an extension of God's body and contribute to His
immortality. The rivers chosen for the poem are all famous rivers that are recognized as
having mystery and a continuous flow (the Euphrates, the Congo, the Nile, and the
Mississippi). The rivers also appear in order of their role in black history. The "soul"
in the poem belongs to an individual that has bonded with the rivers' essences, thus
giving him/her the immortality of the rivers (or God's immortality). The turning point
that leads to the prosperous future is the great Mississippi turning from muddy water into
gold. This represents President Abraham Lincoln's Proclamation. As time goes by,
civilizations rise and fall while the rivers deepen. This in turn gives the "soul" more
experience and as the rivers continuously flow, the "soul" will survive.

Survival is the basis for these two poems despite tragedy and tribulation. They are also
both very intriguing in that they draw you into the circumstances of the poem while
displaying for you the visual aspects of the environment in which they are set. It is easy
to imagine the objects or scenery that Hughes describes and it allows the reader to almost
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