Langston Hughes PR

Langston Hughes was a renowned poet at the turn of the 20th century of his grand influence as a social activist. Hughes wrote many poems throughout his entire career, combating and raising awareness of the discrimination faced by African Americans (and other minority groups) in America during his time. Although a common theme in Hughes’ poems is found (such as a first-person narrative and optimism), the style of Hughes poems never followed a certain style. 

Throughout Hughes’ career, he often shows a degree of optimism and determination in the face of racial discrimination despite the terrible conditions shown. In the poem, Let America Be America Again, “”O, let America be America again– The land that never has been yet– And yet must be– the land where every man is free,” shows that Hughes has a vision for a better future for America (ll. 64-66). Similarly, in the poem Harlem [2], “What happens to a dream deferred? / Does it dry up like a raisin / Maybe it just sags like a heavy load,” connects back to the common theme where Hughes shows the effects of discrimination but a string of hope still remains. 

Although the poems of Hughes can be regarded as always sticking to a theme, the structure in which Hughes completes his poetry is often not analogous. Hughes main structure is from free verse poems with multiple elements, most notably blues, and jazz. In the poem, I, Too, Hughes uses a true free-verse poem. However, in the poem, The Weary Blues, “I got the Weary Blues/And I can’t be satisfied” is a direct quote Hughes retrieved from a Blues poem in his ‘free-verse poem’ (ll. 25-28). Although The Weary Blues, is a free-verse poem with the elements of blues, a rhyme scheme is incorporated sporadically. Another alternative to Hughes’ use of free verse can be easily noticed in the poem, Montage of a Dream Deferred, where Hughes’ had many African American speakers within the same poem. 

Reading through the collection of poems from Hughes, I was able to broaden my knowledge, regarding the discrimination faced by African-Americans in the 20th century. Along with the eye-opening knowledge I had gained about discrimination, reading and noting the collection from Hughes allowed me to practice and expand on how to analyze a poem.