Langton Hughes, an acknowledged poet of the Harlem Renaissance, dedicated his poetry to highlighting the inequality plight and racial discrimination of African American people. His literary works were focusing on every day life of African Americans, as well as on the hardships they had to overcome on the way to freedom and equality. Specific attention should be given to three poems – “The Weary Blues”, “Harlem (Dream Deferred)”, and “I, Too”. These poetical pieces embody Hughes’s great concerns with the future of black people living in the United States. Despite the adversities, the poets’ works reflect his hope for the better future of his people, as well as for his aspiration to liberate black people from the constant pressure of the prejudiced society.
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The tone and spirit of the poems display the author’s frustration with the fate of African Americans. In particular, the poem “The Weary Blues” emphasizes the importance of music in lives of ordinary people. The unique combination of music and poetry uncovers the musician’s frustration with his societal disposition. In the poetry, the difficulty and ambiguity of the language denotes the speaker’s depression and inability to fight with the unjust treatment: “Ain’t got nobody but ma self. I’s gwine quit my frowin’…I ain’t happy no more” (The Weary Blues 19-20; line 29). The plight of poverty and social instability of African Americans, therefore, is closely associated with poem’s deliberation on the historical past revealing the eternal confrontation between white and black. The symbolic representation of piano’s white and black keys highlights the complex relations between the two peoples. In addition, because the poem is the brightest example of Harlem period, the presence of musical elements contributes to the genre and mood of the poem. The work looks more like lyrics that should be set to music.
The presence of jazz rhythm endows Hughes’s poems with African-American spirituality and hope that dreams should come true. In Harlem, the author emphasizes the importance of dreaming of better future because this feeling ignites people’s aspiration to fight against racial discrimination and stereotyping. At this point, Hughes wishes the residents of Harlem to continue dreaming and strives to ignite their ambitions in order not to provoke social unrest. At the same time, the poem provides negative comparisons of the deferred dreams with “fester like a sore”, “raisin in the sun”, or “rotten meat” (Harlem 2, 3, 4). In such a way, the author signifies the delay of dreams and the depression among the African Americans concerning the inevitability of social pressure, poverty, and discrimination. The author recognizes that his people is captured in the cage of stereotypes and prejudices and, as a result, it reveals his disappointment through the poem.
The dream theme is also represented in Hughes another literary masterpiece called I, Too revealing Hughes’ deliberation on the problem of slavery and liberation of the African Americans from pressure of the whites. Despite the presented hardships, the poet desperately believes in a happy and just live, as well as the birth of democracy that will make black people continue a challenging and complicated way to their dreams. Hughes is fully aware that there will be a time when all people will be equal in society and there will no any division according to racial principles: “Tomorrow, I’ll be at the table/ When company comes/ Nobody’ll dare/ Say o me,/ “Eat in the kitchen/ Then.”” (Hughes lines 8-14). In addition, despite the pressure, the author is confident that the African American people is strong and independent enough to survive under these unequal conditions. The first part of the poem reflects the readiness of the African Americans to confront the challenges in order to move on believing in the American Dream: “They send me to eat in the kitchen/ When company comes, / But I laugh,/ And eat well,/ And grow strong” (Hughes, lines 3-7). The poet stresses that black people will be able to endure the violence and segregation and there will be a day when white people will have to reimburse for the challenges they pose on the African Americans.
In conclusion, all the poems under consideration highlight the plight of poverty among African Americans in a two-folded way. One the one hand, the authors desperately describes the extreme challenges and encounters the blacks had to surpass on the way to their dreams. In the context of racial discrimination, inequality, and suppression of human rights and freedoms, the African Americans continued believing in their dreams for a better future. One the other hand, each poem contains as a glimpse of hope igniting people’s aspiration to ignore the difficulties and continue their path to freedom and liberation. In addition, all the poems contain references to the historical past so as to see the differences and improvements with regard to the conditions under which Hughes’ people lives. In such a way, the poet endows confidences in black people for happy future.
Hughes, Langston. Harlem (Dream Deferred). 2011, Web.
Hughes, Langston. I, Too. n. d. Web.
Hughes, Langston. The Weary Blues. 2012, Web.