Analysis of Langston Hughes’ Poetry

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Langston Hughes is recognized as an important figure in the 1920’s also known as the Harlem Renaissance. Despite being intensely subjective, passionate, and sensitive to beauty, many black intellectuals criticize his work for portraying an unattractive view of “Black lifestyle”. According to the Journal Article Langston HUGHES + POETRY = the Blues, Yusef Komunyakaa he expresses that Langston Hughes “pulse and throb of his visions are driven by an acute sense of beauty and tragedy” in American history. Komunyakaa states that “art has to have tension”.

Which invites action and motion? His poetry is rather complex because it filters through satire, the laughter fusing with the crying. He used his poetry and writings to illustrate that there is no lack within the black community. He brought a colorful background to his writings. He had high beliefs and hope for a world where being together would strive but altogether that view itself has only been declining. What’s done in the dark should always come to the light.

“Mother to Son”, Hughes can be compared to the Jacob’s ladder, which is a biblical allusion to Jacobs dreaming of a ladder reaching to heaven (gen. 28.12). The mother character is on a difficult and complicated uphill journey, hoping that if she endures her struggles she can eventually ascend to the highest “promised land”. The mother tries to help her son maintain his faith as well, which will help him press forward through his life struggles. The article “Give me a song for my Heart” Louis Wilson, states that the poet points out how difficult times have been. Poetry not only helps but provides and understanding to children who are trying to discover who they are; it may bring some relief and clarity to personal problems that come to mind.

“Mulatto”, contains extreme imagery and thematic content, addressing the cultural role of biracial children in a segregated America. It is written in free verse, it is poetry that does not rhyme or have a regular meter. It is meant for you to understand which character is speaking to you. According to Arthur Davis’s article “The Tragic Mulatto Theme in Six Works of Langston Hughes” he explains that the mulatto meaning is “light colored, mixed blooded character who suffers because of difficulties arising from his bi-racial background”. Stereotypes are made out with exaggeration in them.

The victim is divided by his intelligence but unwilling to be a slave from his white blood but his Negro blood comes with emotional urges, indolence, and savagery. Davis feels that Langston Hughes portrays the mulatto image so often because subconsciously he portraying or symbolically overcomes the conflict of his own personality. “Mulatto” begins with a son proclaiming to his biological father that he is his son. The scene is described as a night sky, and so is the moon and stars possibly representing the white father and the yellow stars are his numerous children. The father speaks awfully about women and the female body saying it is just a “toy” he talks of some coloring, indicating bruises from his sexual abuse.

The images were meant to put out the reality of many plantations, that while masters raped their female slaves because they were seen as property, not human beings and felt it within their right to rape these women at any time in order to sedate their lust. The son tried to talk to his half siblings who refused almost immediately to talk with him. From a young age the white kids were taught to be prejudice. This poem functions to give a voice to the disenfranchisement of blacks and all laws, rules and regulations that have been broken. The son empowers himself by imagining the other individuals who are just like him. The stars offered him a sense of inclusion even though the father does not want him and refused to accept him, the stars will help him not to feel alone.

“The Negro speaks of Rivers”, The speaker links himself to his ancestors, placing them in historical, religious and cultural sites. The speakers begin by claiming a connection to the world’s ancient rivers that predated humans and that made his soul grow deep. This allowed him to make a connection between people of his race and the rest of human civilizations. He mentions four great rivers

  1. Euphrates: in which historians believed it was the birthplace of human civilization.
  2. Congo: where great African kingdoms flourished.
  3. Nile: Egyptians pyramids and the Nile is where he witnessed the creations of this structure which came from great architecture.
  4. Mississippi River: where he links American slavery and Abraham Lincoln, He serves as a voice for all African Americans as he traces their lineage to the cradles of civilization.

The pain and anguish of extreme segregation has always forced the black community to have everything separate and objected to label by any and every institutions to “Negros”. The experience of Langston Hughes was varied as he spoke for all the blacks in his poetry who have suffered under slavery and segregation and those who had to accept Jim Crow attitude for survival in the United States. He became the collective voice for all who has been oppressed, manhandled and exploited. Langston Hughes has earned the reputation for being the greatest black writer worldwide. He was able to retrieve the lost energy of his people by reminding them of their humanity and by forging a new future of meditation and soul searching.


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Analysis of Langston Hughes’ Poetry. (2021, Feb 26). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/analysis-of-langston-hughes-poetry/



What are some common characteristics of Langston Hughes poetry?
Langston Hughes' poetry is known for its themes of identity, social injustice, and the African American experience, often expressed through a blend of vernacular language, jazz rhythms, and vivid imagery. His work also frequently employs repetition, metaphor, and irony to convey powerful messages about the human condition.
What is Langston Hughes poetry mainly about?
Langston Hughes poetry is mainly about the lives of African Americans and their struggle for equality.
What is the message of the poem I too by Langston Hughes?
The poem is about how everyone should be treated equally, no matter their race.
What type of poetry is Langston Hughes known for?
The message of the poem is that love never dies, even after death.
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