Poetry of Langston Hughes Research Paper

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[. . .] "Democracy" opens with "Democracy will not come/Today, this year/Nor ever/Through compromise and fear." This is very interesting writing. He immediately implies that though America claims to be a democracy, it is not, as evidence by the injustices experienced by those who are not white Americans. He also claims that democracy will not come immediately or during the year, or ever.

Democracy will not come through compromise and fear. Democracy is a state of being that should come peacefully, as implied by Hughes. He also implies that democracy will not come as a result of compromise, but with perhaps its opposite, confrontation and contention. This might seem counterintuitive, but in democracies everyone is allowed to voice their individual opinions, even at the risk of disagreement and contention. It is an intriguing thought and there is a logic to it as the European colonizers created their democracy through violence and force.

This is yet another poem where the imagined speaker articulates his right to exist and share the same desires for freedom and equality. The second stanza states, "I have as much right/As the other fellow has/To stand/On my two feet/And own the land." He wants rights in general. He specifically wants the right to be an adult man, not dependent another person, presumably a white man, those who could occupy the highest stations in American society.

He wants a part of the American dream, which is to be financially independent and have a piece of land upon which to live or make a living. These are not unreasonable desires, which is another sentiment that the poem communicates later on. The poem closes on this note with, "I live here, too./I want freedom/Just as you." Both poems so far seem like they are conversations with mainstream America. His poetry is a concise conversation with the part of American culture that denies his existence. This is a common motif or metaphor in the poetry of Langston Hughes.

Finally, the last poem of focus is "Let America be America Again." This poem is another poem with a lot of repetition. "America" is a word that is repeated often in this poem. Hughes is very concerned with the lived experience of Americans of the 20th century, a century that saw many changes in American culture and American life, with respect to minority cultures and other aspects of society. There are a number of lines that begin with "I am" in "Let American be America Again."

Hughes uses a lot of traditional imagery of America, but recontextualizes those images from a perspective other than those of white Americans. He makes reference to all of the ethnic and repressed minorities of America, not just African-Americans in this poem. This poem also poses a number of questions to the reader over the course of the poem. While this is yet another poem that articulates the desires, dreams, and needs of oppressed in America, it is different in that the language is more direct, and includes the use of questions to the reader, forcing the reader to more directly face the issues of his poetry and perhaps come up with answers themselves. Asking these questions may also force readers to confront the imbalances that they perceive in the world.

All of Hughes poems serve to enlighten and motivate readers toward freedom for all. He often uses languages of the subjective experience, repetition, with complex moods that include pain, hope, anger, love, despair, frustration, exasperation, and persistence. His poetry expresses a love for American, but also a deep disappointment for what it is as opposed to what it could be. Hughes uses the power and potency of experience to communicate his ideas and aspirations.

References:

America's Library. Langston Hughes. 2012, Web, Available from: http://www.americaslibrary.gov/aa/hughes/aa_hughes_subj.html. 2012 December 09.

Famous Poems and Poets. Langston Hughes. 2012, Web, Available from: http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/langston_hughes. 2012 December 09.

Poetry Foundation. Langston Hughes. 2012, Web, Available from: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/langston-hughes. 2012 December 09.

Shadow Poetry. Langston Hughes. 2012, Web, Available from: http://www.shadowpoetry.com/resources/famous/hughes/langston.html. 2012 December 09.

The Poetry Archive. Langston Hughes. 2012, Web, Available from: http://www.poetryarchive.org/poetryarchive/singlePoet.do?poetId=1551. 2012 December 09. [END OF PREVIEW]

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