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Poetry Comparison by Emily Dickinson and Langston Hughes Essay

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Updated: Jun 15th, 2021

Introduction

Poems by Emily Dickinson and Langston Hughes differ greatly based on the source of inspiration that the poets used when creating their works. They both used poetry to express their revolutionary thoughts concerning various issues concerning life and society. This paper highlights the general impressions left by the two poets and identifies what I like and dislike about each one of them based on an assortment of their poems.

Emily Dickinson

The general impression of Emily Dickinson’s poems is that they are very economical with words and the message being conveyed. The poet does not provide more than the necessary information in the poems. Being so reserved hides a shrewd intellect and a subversive soul. The majority of the poems being considered here talk of a range of human experiences including death, loss, pain, religion, pretense, and suffering, to mention but a few. For instance, in the poem “Much Madness is Divinest Sense,” Dickinson launches a scathing attack on the pretentious and whimsical nature of human social concepts. The poet laments that whatever makes sense is deemed madness, while anything that is socially acceptable becomes meaningful whether it makes sense or not. Therefore, whoever asserts socially acceptable norms is viewed as a sane person.

However, anyone who violates these norms is seen as dangerous. Dickinson raises the same issue of society being unreasonable in the poem “I Felt a Funeral, in My Brain.” Similarly, in “We Grow Accustomed to the Dark,” the poet is concerned that society is used to living with certain assumptions without raising pertinent questions. This aspect leads even the bravest to grope in the darkness of unreasonableness, and they are ultimately swallowed up by a mundane way of life. About religion, in “Some Keep the Sabbath Going to Church,” Dickinson is concerned that some people think that going to church will take them to heaven (Doucet 57). However, God is not interested in the destination, but the journey to heaven, which underscores how people lead their lives. These poems paint Dickinson as a non-conformist who isolates herself from mainstream social beliefs and practices. Therefore she uses poems and poetry to air her dissenting views based on her perception of life and the world in general.

One of the things that I like about Dickinson’s works is that they address pertinent social issues like conformity and unreasonableness. Most people do not question the basis of their beliefs, and thus they follow blindly, which makes life mundane. However, Dickson disrupts this commonplace line of thinking and challenges readers to view life from a different perspective. I like this attribute because I consider myself a nonconformist. However, I did not like the way the poet is reticent with words in her poems. The message is highly coded and most readers may not understand what is being said. This aspect defeats the essence of poetry, which is to convey a message to the audience.

Langston Hughes

In the poems presented to the reader, Langston Hughes is talking about racism and inequality in American society. He writes effusively and is openly critical about the social vices that affected people of color in America during his time and even contemporarily. In the poems under discussion, Hughes writes from a personal perspective detailing his struggles with racism at a young age. The general impression of these poems is that the writer feels oppressed and discriminated against in his country. For instance, in the poem, “Theme for English B,” he writes,

So will my page be colored that I write?

Being me, it will not be white.

But it will be a part of you, instructor.

You are white– yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.

That’s American (Doucet 62).

In this poem, Hughes strongly reminds his oppressors that they are all Americans, and thus perhaps nationalism should overcome any personal inclinations and preferences to bind them together as people with shared interests. In the poem “Harlem,” he opens with a striking question, “What happens to a dream deferred?” (Doucet 59). Throughout the poem, the poet pours out his heart about the pain and anguish that victims of racism have to go through simply because of the pigmentation of their skin. However, in “I Too,” Hughes gives the oppressed hope that emancipation is on the way. While today victims of racism may be banished to live as lesser human beings, they will become strong, repel the oppression, and earn the dignity that they deserve. In “Harlem,” the poet ends with a violent image: “or does it explode?” (Doucet 59). This imagery signifies the tumultuous route that the journey to emancipation would take before finally winning the war against racism in America at the time.

Conclusion

One of the things that I liked about Hughes’ poems is that they are straightforward. The message is clear and the reader understands it at the first encounter. Additionally, the poet speaks plainly about his experiences and thoughts concerning racism. The only thing I disliked about the poems is that some are very short, and while the message is clear, the reader may want to get more information on a certain line of thought.

Work Cited

Doucet, —-. English 2 Readings. Aristotext, —.

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