The Relations of Blacks & Whites The four poems by Langston Hughes, “Negro,” “Harlem,” “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” and “Theme for English B” are all powerful poems and moving poems! Taken all together they speak to the very founding of relations of whites and blacks all the way down through history. The speaker in the poem the, “Negro” and also, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” tells the tale of freedom and enslavement that his people have endured, and it heralds their wisdom and strength. The poems “Harlem” and “Theme for English B” speaks to the continuous unfair treatment that the blacks have received at the hands of white people throughout the years. Blacks have been forced to build civilizations across the world primarily for the whites. …show more content…
In the poem, “Theme for English B” although the speaker is talking about a college student he is speaking for an entire race. He talks about segregation and inequality. “…and I come to the Y the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator up to my room” (Lines 13-15). After years of slavery the blacks were still separated from white people and it was the majority of white people who wanted things this way. During this time blacks were largely discriminated against, they still had to fight for equal rights and fair treatment. However, in the poem he makes a very interesting statement. “Sometimes perhaps you don’t want to be a part of me. Nor do I want to be a part of you. But we are, that is true” (34-36). The speaker is humbly realizing and hoping that his white audience will understand that if not for one another, neither would be in the position that they are now in. Although whites were, “somewhat more free” (40) black and white people learned from each other, and continue to do …show more content…
Possibly the same dream that the speaker is talking about in the poem, “Harlem” perhaps the American Dream that was limited to blacks by whites in that time period. Even though the speaker does not specify the dream it stands to reason that blacks at the time were not able to dream, or aspire to do anything without being met by opposition from the whites. “What happens to a dream deferred?” (1). Even though the speaker does not answer the question it is quite obvious that the dream does not simply die or go away right away. Just like blacks they did not give up and simply go away because of the oppression that they faced from the whites. Throughout the entire poem the dream is undergoing an evolution and slowly decaying to the point of exploding. The same evolution that blacks have unrgone by the whites. The frustration of festering dreams of wanting to be more but were constantly road blocked by white
The civil rights movement may have technically ended in the nineteen sixties, but America is still feeling the adverse effects of this dark time in history today. African Americans were the group of people most affected by the Civil Rights Act and continue to be today. Great pain and suffering, though, usually amounts to great literature. This period in American history was no exception. Langston Hughes was a prolific writer before, during, and after the Civil Rights Act and produced many classic poems for African American literature. Hughes uses theme, point of view, and historical context in his poems “I, Too” and “Theme for English B” to expand the views on African American culture to his audience members.
“Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words.” –Edgar Allan Poe. Poetry is one of the world’s greatest wonders. It is a way to tell a story, raise awareness of a social or political issue, an expression of emotions, an outlet, and last but not least it is an art. Famous poet Langston Hughes uses his poetry as a musical art form to raise awareness of social injustices towards African-Americans during the time of the Harlem Renaissance. Although many poets share similarities with one another, Hughes creatively crafted his poetry in a way that was only unique to him during the 1920’s. He implemented different techniques and styles in his poetry that not only helped him excel during the 1920’s, but has also kept him relative in modern times. Famous poems of his such as a “Dream Deferred,” and “I, Too, Sing America” are still being studied and discussed today. Due to the cultural and historical events occurring during the 1920’s Langston Hughes was able to implement unique writing characteristics such as such as irregular use of form, cultural and historical referenced themes and musical influences such as Jazz and the blues that is demonstrative of his writing style. Langston Hughes use of distinct characteristics such as irregular use of form, cultural and historical referenced themes and musical influences such as Jazz and the blues helped highlight the plights of African-Americans during the Harlem Renaissance Era.
When reading the literature of Langston Hughes, I cant help but feeling energetically charged and inspired. Equality, freedom, empowerment, renaissance, justice and perseverance, are just a taste of the subject matter Hughes offers. He amplifies his voice and beliefs through his works which are firmly rooted in race pride and race feeling. Hughes committed himself both to writing and to writing mainly about African Americans. His early love for the “wonderful world of books” was sparked by loneliness and parental neglect. He would soon lose himself in the works of Walt Whitman, Paul Laurence, Carl Sandburg and other literary greats which would lead to enhancing his ever so growing style and grace of oeuvre. Such talent, character, and willpower could only come from one’s life experiences. Hughes had allot to owe to influences such as his grandmother and great uncle John Mercer Langston - a famous African American abolitionist. These influential individuals helped mold Hughes, and their affect shines brightly through his literary works of art.
The American Dream was just that for that for some of the Blacks who were struggling or living in New York during the Harlem Renaissance. Living the “American Dream” was something most thought they would never see or have the pleasure to enjoy. Working a good job, being treating fairly and being able to own a nice house and buy nice things was all a dream that they believed would never become a reality. One could say those were the thoughts of the Blacks who didn't have faith or hope or the drive to make the “American Dream” their reality. And this is because Black was thought so little of. They were thought to be ugly and worthless and inferior to the “Americans”. With this constant negative reminder, it was easy for Blacks to self-hate or to hate someone of the same race but a darker shade or of a different social class. However all Blacks did not feel that way. For instance, writers like Langston Hughes, Zora Neal Hurston and Elise Johnson McDougald knew that better days were coming and they too would be able to do the things the Whites thought they were not worthy of. They loved the skin that there were in and was not going to allow anyone to tell them otherwise. These three writers along with others believed that change was coming and their prayers and cries would soon be answered. Their struggling and fighting would soon all be worth it and the Blacks who came before them and fought to get them where they currently were would have not died in vain. Langston Hughes expresses this in his poem Let America Be America Again.
The text of the poem can be found at the bottom of this page. In Langston Hughes' poem "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," Hughes makes use of some interesting poetic techniques. This poem is written in free verse, and seems, at first glance, to be very unstructured. Hughes repeats words and lines, but does not make use of repeated sounds. Hughes' rivers are very rich in symbolism, and are not just simple bodies of water. Finally, some of his word choices near the end of the poem help to bring the message of the poem across more strongly. These poetic techniques contribute greatly to the quality of the poem.
The Negro Speaks of Rivers and Mother to Son, explained the importance of the woman, light and darkness and strength in the African-American community. Hughes made a very clear and concise statement in focusing on women and the power they hold, light and darkness, and strength. Did his poems properly display the feelings of African-American’s in that time period? It is apparent that Hughes felt a sense of pride in his culture and what they had to endure. After all “Life ain’t been no crystal stair!”(Norton, Line 2, 2028)
...struggle for dignity as a black person in the early/mid twentieth century. “Democracy” is a slightly stern and direct request to take action and fight for civil rights. “Theme for English B” is a compassionate and low-key personal anecdote that reiterates the unpracticed concept that “all men are created equal”. Despite the difference in tone and subject, all four poems relate to the central theme that dignity is something that white men may take for granted, but Langston Hughes, as a black man and a writer, sees and feels dignity as fight and a struggle that he faced and that the black community as whole faces every day.
The intersection of themes in the poetry of Countee Cullen and Langston Hughes is, perhaps, most evident in their poems ‘Lines to My Father,’ and ‘The Negro Speaks of Rivers’ respectively. A close analysis of the literal meaning and literary styles employed by both poets show that they drew their inspiration from common images, experiences, and the troubled history of the African-Americans. In the ‘Negro Speaks of Rivers,’ the persona claims that his soul has grown as deep as the rivers. In one way, the image of the river captures the essence of ancestry and the continuity of heritage. Throughout the poem, the poet uses various other images such as blood, veins, and sunset to embolden the push for cultural
To analyze Hughes’s poem thoroughly, by using Eliot’s argumentative essay, we must first identify the poem’s speaker and what is symbolic about the speaker? The title (“The Negro Speaks Of Rivers”) of the poem would hint off the speaker’s racial identity, as the word Negro represents the African-American race not only in a universal manner, but in it’s own individual sphere. T.S. Eliot’s essay, mentions that “every nation, every race, has not its own creative, but its own critical turn of mind”(549). In another sense, different societies have their own characteristics, however, with a racial mixture, shadowed elements can be formed. If one were to analyze in between the lines of Eliot’s essay and Hughes’s poem, he...
The dreams that people have are sometimes hindered by their social standing. Excerpt A displays George and Lennie talking about the land that they dream about having, and how they would be higher in the social standings after achieving their American dream. “No, sir, we’d have our own place where we belonged and not sleep in no bunk house.” The quote
According to James Baldwin’s “My Dungeon Shook: A Letter to My Nephew” African Americans cannot obtain their piece of the American Dream. Baldwin wrote a letter to his nephew in hope of guiding him through life. Baldwin had many words of wisdom to share, mostly words provoked by pain and anger. Baldwin wanted to teach his nephew about the cruelty of society. His main point was to teach his nephew not to believe the white man and his words. He wanted to encourage his nephew to succeed in life but not to expect the unassailable. By believing the white man one can not succeed but by knowing where one comes from will lead to success was the foundation of Baldwin’s message (243-246).
With the whole United States watching Martin Luther King Jr. told the world about his dreams. Just as he would not rest until his voice was heard, African American literature would not stop either. Together they opened the American’s eye to the lives being lived by many African Americans for the first time. Many of these stories, poems, essays, and plays held common themes of having dreams, dreams with which could not be achieved due to the overbearing power of the White man, dreams just like that of Martin Luther King Jr. The theme of racism inhibiting the chance for African Americans to better themselves is common in American literature up until the late 1900’s. The poem “Harlem” by Langston Hughes, the essay “Black Men and Public Space” by Brent Staples, the play “A Raisin in the Sun” by Lorraine Hansberry, and the short story “Desiree’s Baby” by Kate Chopin all adhere to this theme. This theme is made clear in these works through the use of setting, characterization, and language.
Langston Hughes is one of the most famous poets of the Harlem Renaissance. He was born in Mississippi in 1902 and later moved to Ohio where he attended Central High School. When Hughes graduated high school he went to Mexico to visit his father and while crossing the Mississippi River he was inspired to write “The Negro Speaks of Rivers”, which was his first published poem when he was eighteen years old. When Hughes returned to the United States in 1924 the Harlem Renaissance was in “full swing”. In 1925 at the age of twenty-three Hughes received an award for his poem “The Weary Blues”, Hughes was famous for incorporating blues and jazz rhymes into his poetry, which is what he did in his poem “The Weary Blues”. Hughes was at a banquet where he received an award for his poem “The Weary Blues” and was asked by a man named Carl Van Vechten if he had enough poems to make a book. Hughes said yes and Van Vechten promised that he would find Hughes ...
Analyzing the poem’s title sets a somber, yet prideful tone for this poem. The fact that the title does not say “I Speak of Rivers,” but instead, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” (1) shows that he is not only a Negro, but that he is not one specific Negro, but in his first person commentary, he is speaking for all Negroes. However, he is not just speaking for any Negroes. Considering the allusions to “Mississippi” (9) and “Abe Lincoln” (9) are not only to Negroes but also to America, confirms that Hughes is talking for all African Americans. This poem is a proclamation on the whole of African American history as it has grown and flourished along the rivers which gave life to these people.
The poem “Negro” was written by Langston Hughes in 1958 where it was a time of African American development and the birth of the Civil Rights Movement. Langston Hughes, as a first person narrator tells a story of what he has been through as a Negro, and the life he is proud to have had. He expresses his emotional experiences and makes the reader think about what exactly it was like to live his life during this time. By using specific words, this allows the reader to envision the different situations he has been put through. Starting off the poem with the statement “I am a Negro:” lets people know who he is, Hughes continues by saying, “ Black as the night is black, /Black like the depths of my Africa.” He identifies Africa as being his and is proud to be as dark as night, and as black as the depths of the heart of his country. Being proud of him self, heritage and culture is clearly shown in this first stanza.