Some biographical points
While finding correlations between Langston Hughes’s experiences and his poems, there are some fundamentals concerning the poet’s life, which must be considered. First of all, it should be pointed out that James Mercer Langston Hughes is considered to be one of the most famous American poets, who contributed into jazz poetry development. Hughes is also known as a successful novelist and a social activist. The poet took part in a cultural movement of 1920-1930, which is best known as The Harlem Renaissance (“Poetry: Langston Hughes” par. 2).
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The poems written by Langston Hughes reflected his inner feelings and the issues he was interested in.
The poems I would like to discuss are Harlem and Mother to Son. Of course, the title of the first poem reminds us of the events, which took place in the early twenties. In my opinion, the author reflected not only his own views concerning the expectations of African-American population, but he also depicted the ways America reacted to the legacy of the Harlem Renaissance.
When reading the poem, it becomes obvious that the poet wanted the black artists could feel free and express their inner emotions. The poet defended his own ideas and supported the black activists. As far as Hughes took active part in a cultural movement, one can make a conclusion that the poem reflects his deep concern in social issues (“Profile: Langston Hughes” par. 4).
On the one hand, it seems that the poem is rather simple and has no the point; however, one the other hand, when analyzing the hidden meaning of the lines the poem consists of, it becomes obvious that a well-known social activist tires to answer a serious question: “What happens to a dream deferred?” (Reuben par. 1).
The final line seems to be the answer to the question, although the answer has a form of a question, i.e.: “Or does it explode?” (Reuben par. 1). Thus, the analysis of the lines the poem includes gives us an opportunity to suppose that Hughes depicted the issues he was interested in, the issues, which can be regarded as burning problems of his time.
Harlem has unusual rhyme. Maybe, it is the correspondence of sound between words, which makes the process of understanding the poem more difficult. Tom Hansen is of the opinion that “Rhyme is integrated with structure in a way that typography is not. If the typography had been, structure would be that much more evident, and the poem would appear to be more logically divided into stanzas” (par. 4).
Mother to Son
The second poem written by Langston Hughes is Mother to Son. While discussing a piece of writing, I have to point out that famous social activist had poor relations with his father. The key reason of such relations was his father’s attitude towards Negroes. The poet could not understand why his father disliked the Blacks.
Generally, the poem reflects the author’s values and attitudes towards life. When analyzing the poem, it becomes evident that the poet is ready to fight for his ideas and thoughts. The line And reachin’ landin’s determines Hughes’s readiness to achieve all the aims he settled earlier.
Moreover, when reading the poem, one can also understand that the poet is not afraid of doing new things. He is not going to give up. The line And sometimes goin’ in the dark can be interpreted differently. Thus, for Tiffany Bond the line means that “maybe black people in general have experienced the worst of times first, and maybe the load will be a little lighter for later generations” (par. 3). In my opinion, the phrase means that the poet is ready to face the difficulties.
The importance of the poet’s ideas
Langston Hughes’s poems reflect his worldview and the ways he accepted the reality. For a social activist the wellbeing of his nation is extremely important, as he was fighting against injustice all the time.
Bond, Tiffany. Mother To Son, 2006.
Hansen, Tom. On “Harlem”, 2000.
“Poetry: Langston Hughes.” Uchicago.edu, (n. d.).
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“Profile: Langston Hughes.” Virginia.edu, (n. d.).
Reuben, Paul. Chapter 9: Langston Hughes, 2011.