The Ballad Of The Landlord By Langston Hughes

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American poet Langston Hughes was a critical contributor to the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. Unlike many notable black poets during that period, Hughes sought to harness the experiences and attitudes of the African American people in the hopes of reflecting their actual culture. Three of Hughes’ poems in particular, “Ku Klux”, “Song for a Dark Girl” , and the Ballad of the Landlord successfully combine aspects of African American culture to relate the unjust treatment they endured for centuries. Hughes’ poem Ku Klux depicts the beating and degradation of an African American man by white men. The poem starts of by describing the African American man being taken to “some lonesome place” where he is then asked, “do you believe/ In the great…show more content…
Throughout the poem Hughes narrates with the four diverse voices of a tenant, a landlord, the police, and the press. Each of these voices has its own perspective on the poem’s action and serves to dramatize a black man’s experience in a society that is dominated by whites. Furthermore, “Ballad of a Landlord” is a poem in which an African American man is trying to tell his white landlord about his living conditions. The main voice of the poem, the tenant, is characterized in the opening stanza by his informal speech: “Don 't you 'member I told you about it/ Way last week?” The tenant tries to let the landlord know that there is a leak in his roof. He continues by complaining about the state of the staircase; “Landlord, landlord/ These steps is broken down/ When you come up yourself/ it 's a wonder you don 't fall down.” The African American man wants to let him know that his living conditions are unacceptable and after being ignored numerous times the tenant states that he will not pay the rent until these problems have been fixed. A shift in tone can be seen in the fourth stanza when the tenant begins to respond more emotionally after the landlord threatens to evict him. Finally, by the fifth stanza it is apparent that the tenant is angry: “Um-huh! You talking high and mighty./ Talk on-till you get through./ You ain 't gonna be able to say a word/ If I land my fist on you.” For the first time in the poem the tenant raises his voice which is portrayed through the first exclamation mark. In addition, he threatens to use violence as the argument becomes more heated and he is tired of not getting his way. In the sixth stanza Hughes introduces a new voice, the landlord: “Police! Police!/ Come and get this man!/ He 's trying to ruin the government/And overturn the land!” The landlord’s tone is frantic which is clearly in response to a small threat. Rather than dealing with tenant directly

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