The Poetry in Harlem Renaissance

analytical Essay
1966 words
1966 words

Many assume that Blues and Jazz were the only musical influences that impacted the Harlem Renaissance. Indeed, with the pursuit for heritage and identity, many aspects of African culture influenced Renaissance poetry musically. However, focus also needs to be placed on more controversial topics, such as religion and gender, as poets challenged oppression. When discussing the poetry of the Harlem Renaissance, due to the strength of their relationship, one must look at Blues and Jazz. Many viewed this genre as a voice for the black communities and as “the New Negro poets expressed a deep pride in being Black” (Smith, 1983, p. 37) it is easy to see how this influenced their poetry. The main theme of Blues were the troubles of life and finding an escape, and this underlying dissatisfaction was incorporated into poetry as a response to many of the injustices present. For example, a clear example of this is Langston Hughes’ Homesick Blues which uses many of the key techniques from Blues songs, such as short lines to create urgency. The poem discusses the effect of prejudices and injustices on the black communities, especially when it comes to finding a home and an identity. There is a subtle, irregular rhyme scheme from words such as “sun… done” (Ramazani, 1994, pp. 152-3) which strengthens the influence. The dull, full rhymes create a sense of dissatisfaction and boredom, as if the speaker has given up on life. Hughes similarly uses many colloquialism and phonetics, which were common in Blues songs, such as “De Railroad Bridge/ a sad song in de air” (Ramazani, 1994, pp. 152-3), which furthers racial pride and identity, present in Blues and Harlem Renaissance poetry. However, perhaps the strongest example of how the Blues genre infl... ... middle of paper ... ... Book of American Verse. New York: Oxford University Press. Leonard, K. D. (2009). African American women poets and the power of the word. The Cambridge Companion to African American Women's Literature, 168-187. Nelson, C. (2008). Anothology of Modern American Poetry. New York: Oxford University Press Inc. Ramazani, J. (1994). Poetry of Mourning: The Modern Elegy From Hardy to Heaney. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Rosen, M. (2009). Classic Poetry: An Illustrated Collection. North Carolina: Baker & Taylor, CATS. Smith, G. (1983, Autumn). Gwendolyn Brooks's A Street in Bronzeville, the Harlem Renaissance and the Mythologies of Black Women. The Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States (MELUS), Vol.10 No.3, 33-46. Spencer, J. M. (1996). The Black Church and the Harlem Renaissance. African American Review, Vol.30 No.3, 453-460.

In this essay, the author

  • Opines that blues and jazz were the only musical influences that impacted the harlem renaissance. however, the focus needs to be placed on more controversial topics, such as religion and gender.
  • Analyzes how the theme of blues and jazz influenced harlem renaissance poetry.
  • Analyzes how hughes' weary blues highlights how jazz affected everyday life through its exaggerated musicality.
  • Analyzes how the harlem renaissance derived from the great migration which saw many african americans move to the north of america and caribbean immigrants seeking a better standard of living in america.
  • Analyzes how the speaker likens himself to the night and nature, a key theme in african culture and songs.
  • Analyzes how the amalgamation of new cultures brought out a reawakening of spiritual awareness, which caused religious to be revaluated.
  • Analyzes how hughes wrote goodbye christ to shock christian of all races so that they recognised the limitations of the church in regards to the poor and the oppressed, largely in the south.
  • Analyzes how gwendolyn brooks uses musicality to support her argument, as highlighted by its form as a ballad.
  • Concludes that music strongly influenced much of the poetry in the harlem renaissance. while some chose to use it as the sole focus of their poetry, many simply used it to support their argument.
  • Describes bremer, s. h., home in harlem, new york: lessons from the renaissance.
  • Explains that langston hughes's radical poetry and the "end of race" was published in the society for the study of multi-ethnic literature of the united states.
  • Explains ellmann, r., the new oxford book of american verse.
  • Cites leonard, k. d., the cambridge companion to african american women's literature, 168-187.
  • Describes ramazani's poetry of mourning: the modern elegy from hardy to heaney.
  • Analyzes smith, g., brooks's a street in bronzeville, the harlem renaissance, and the mythologies of black women in the society for the study of multi-ethnic literature of the us.
  • Explains spencer, j. m., the black church and the harlem renaissance.
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