A Historical Perspective of Langston Hughes
Langston Hughes was born February 1, 1902 in Joplin, Missouri. He lived in an unstable home environment as his father abandoned the family and moved to Mexico. His father studied law but was prohibited from testing for the bar exam due to his race. This may have led to his decision to leave the states (Pesonen, 1997-2008). His mother was a school teacher was but was always traveling to find employment with better wages. Young James Langston Hughes was never in one place for long, after his parents’ divorce he went to live with his grandmother in Lawrence, Kansas until he was thirteen years old. Much of the author’s work can be attributed to his grandmother as she was very influential to him. She would tell him stories of how black people faugh to be liberated and treated equally. His grandmother taught him how to use his sadness to his advantage (Langston Hughes, 1997-2010). To no avail he did exactly what his grandmother told him. As a young man he traveled the world taking bits and pieces of life experiences, placing them in his literary works. Langston Hughes has brought the afflictions of Black Americans in the nineteenth and twentieth century and placed them in view for the world to see.
In his poem, “Cross” Langston is speaking from the perspective of a biracial person, it is not clear to me if the speaker is a woman or man. Due to the tone and “jive” dialect that I am very familiar with I will presume that the speaker is a man. His style is as rhythmic as the jazzy attitude that is second nature to Black Americans in that time. In the first ...
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...estyle. His poem, “Dream” Langston demonstrates, as in many of his works, reach for your goals. He begins the poem, “Hold fast to dreams/ For if dreams die/ Life is like a broken-winged bird that cannot fly” (Hughes, 2004). He uses a metaphor here comparing life to an injured bird that is unable to do what it born to do, soar. Mr. Hughes accomplished something that a lot of blacks never really got a chance to do in those days, live out his dreams. In this poem his message is clear; “Hold fast to your dreams/ For when dreams go/Life is a barren field (Hughes, 2004) a barren field is infertile land. What good is land when it is unfruitful? Everything and everyone has a purpose and we haven’t a clue as to what that purpose is, then we should make one. If not then we become as complacent as a “barren field covered frozen with snow” (Hughes, 2004).
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