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Langston Hughes’ and Emily Dickinson’s Poems Essay


Langston Hughes’ Poems

Langston Hughes, the famous poet of his time, speaks volumes and volumes to the people living in contemporary society through his captivating poems, which seem heavy-laden with crucial messages. For instance, his poem ‘The weary blues’ addresses at large the issue of discrimination and lack of employment of the Negroes. Hughes, through his choice of words and explanation, brings out to the audience how the poor Negroes loiter on the Lenox Avenue streets some, playing old pianos.

The descriptions of the scene demonstrate the extent of Negroes’ poverty and level of unemployment as they play the pianos on the streets to attract sympathy from the passers-by. Lines “Swaying to and fro his rickety stool”, and “I heard that Negro sing, that old piano moan” adapted by Hughes illustrate the reality and the conditions in which the Negroes go through. The author, therefore, demonstrates his agitations through such stanzas. The stanza that best illustrates the author’s anguish and concern about his Negro reads, “And I wish that I had died”.

Hughes also expresses his love, understanding, and wishes to fight racism in his poem, ‘Theme for English B’ that is simple and full of ideas expressed coherently and systematically. The author through the poem sends a strong message to his colleagues, the Americans, to stop racial and color discrimination.

The lines, “being colored does not make me not like the same things other folks like who are other races,” clearly depict that discrimination based on races and color does not help in any way and does not change the way someone thinks and reasons (Connelly and Trimmer 12). Therefore, the poem aims at making the Americans judge the black Negros and other people not necessarily based on their skin color but as their brothers and sisters, embracing them as fellow human beings with similar capabilities.

Hughes’ poems present the realities of life-based on the way he embraces and cherishes his background. The poem ‘The Negro speaks of rivers’, concretively describes the lifestyles, the traditional, and the culture of the Negroes. This poem highlights the lifestyles of African black people in the USA. The poem, therefore, digs deep into the roots of the Negros, for instance, the lines “I built my hut near the Congo” and “it lulled me to sleep” bring out the cultures of the African society in the African contexts. Pieces of work of this nature attracted criticism from the Negro poet fraternity because of the exposure the poem had: it exposed the culture and the traditions of the African black people who did not feel good.

Another poem, which depicts Hughes as a good writer of his time is ‘Harlem’ where the author employs a question-approach in sending out his message. The poem begins with the question” what happens to a dream deferred”, which triggers the minds of the readers in his interactions with the poem. The author’s views finally show that actions or ideas obstructed bear no fruits, and therefore, despite the challenges, he optimistically forges on to realize his ambitions.

I like Hughes’ work based on its appealing and attractive nature. The poems seem simple in the sense that he presents the message systematically in an easy-to-understand model. The author also uses a familiar context elevating his level of honesty and sincerity. The works demonstrate creativity in his use of words and humor and further reflecting his sincerity and truth as he borrows from the reality of life.

Although he receives criticism from his Negro colleagues for his writing, I find his work more appealing, full of genius and substance. Furthermore, he mostly centers on the issues affecting people and therefore presents a true reflection of the circumstances affecting or surrounding the people. The common illustration is seen in the poem ‘The negro speaks of the river’ demonstrates clearly how the author is proud of his race, color, and his background, therefore, seeing no need to pretend, like all people, regardless of their age, color, and status are important.

Emily Dickinson’s Poems

Emily Dickinson, a devoted poet of the 1800s has written many poems, most of which revolve around the nature and lives of people. Critics have pointed out that they demonstrate her frustrations and depressions in her life. “After Great Pain, a Formal Feeling Comes” a poem by Emily, suggests the stress and pains that people endure in their day-to-day lives. There is always a time for everything: times when the minds of people experience some sort of hardships, which result in anger.

The hearts of people reflect their consequences or their pain regarding their negligence of God as captured in stanza three ‘”The Stiff Heart Questions was it He, That Bore,” illustrating how pain leads to many questions in the hearts of people. Nevertheless, regardless of the questioning, there reaches a moment when these frustrations and problems get off, ushering in normalcy with life moving on as usual.

Emily’s poem, ‘Because I could not stop for Death’ expresses God’s power showing how He controls people’s lives. When she expected to achieve or reach a given destination or when she thought that she could continue with her activities, God seems to control all his life.

The authors, through the poem, express her determination to overcome death and not persistently engage in her activities without any fear of what happens next. However, regardless of putting on a courageous face, she foresees the greatness of the Mighty, who, through the poem, has power over people’s lives, which He stops any time without any notice. The line “Because I could not stop for death He kindly stopped for me” captures this implication.

In her poem, ‘Much Madness is Divinest Sense,’ Emily is opposed to people seeking guidance through meditation and refers to them as people who have much sense and as the majority. Having the nature of or believing in a deity, as she points out, shows the danger of captivity and sanity. The poet, therefore, does not agitate or see the sense of people confiding themselves in deity since it makes them slaves and feel like in chains. Therefore, for their liberation, they need to free themselves from their much madness.

Emily’s poem, ‘Wild Nights – Wild Nights,’ is one of her poems categorized as personal and illustrating her passions and wish. The poet shows her unhappiness with the ever disturbances in the night that causes her discomfort. The author’s luxury in what she wishes to achieve or have does not come to reality due to the destruction that comes with it making her go wild. Therefore, in the poem, the poet looks forward to a night that will prove the comfort and luxury that she looks for.

In ‘The Soul selects her Society’ the poet implies that people often choose their companions that matter to them, avoiding others that their conscience does not accept. The theme of the poem focuses on love, and the author has used metaphors well to develop her theme. For instance, she uses ‘The door is shut’ signifying no entry, the moment a person finds his friend, others include chariots, emperor. She further uses images, which bring forth the sober mood in the poem.

Therefore, although her poems are based on the notion of nature, she has managed to exhibit some sense of creativity. On the contrary, many of the poems hinge on her frustrations and depressions that live come with. One can argue that she wrote the poems from a personal perspective as most of her Poems seem based on nature. The author’s approach does not appeal to me as she has zeroed on issues of death. Furthermore, her work lacks humor and does not bring out situations in a flowing manner.

The author’s work revolves around her feelings, depression, and frustration in life. Therefore, she does not expand her scope of thinking but rather revolves around one area. Her poems depict how narrow-minded she was in her, thinking as most of her work majors on topics relating to one field or scope. As a result, I do not like her work.

Works Cited

Connelly, Mark, and Trimmer, Joseph. Readings for English 2: Thomson and Heinle. Boston: Massachusetts, 2007.

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"Langston Hughes' and Emily Dickinson's Poems." IvyPanda, 4 Feb. 2021, ivypanda.com/essays/langston-hughes-and-emily-dickinsons-poems/.

1. IvyPanda. "Langston Hughes' and Emily Dickinson's Poems." February 4, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/langston-hughes-and-emily-dickinsons-poems/.


IvyPanda. "Langston Hughes' and Emily Dickinson's Poems." February 4, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/langston-hughes-and-emily-dickinsons-poems/.


IvyPanda. 2021. "Langston Hughes' and Emily Dickinson's Poems." February 4, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/langston-hughes-and-emily-dickinsons-poems/.


IvyPanda. (2021) 'Langston Hughes' and Emily Dickinson's Poems'. 4 February.

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