Langston Hughes Poems List pdf

Langston Hughes Poems List pdf My Major Paper 1 Response Essay of Langston Hughes Topic #1

In the poems 'The Negro Speaks Of Rivers' and 'I, Too', written by Langston Hughes, it seems that he wanted

to connect heritage of the African-American community to America and to the world as a whole.  In other words,

he was not excluding anyone, but was speaking to everyone.  In his poem, "I, Too", I think he was speaking

more to America, but still wanted the whole world to be involved.  Hughes took a unique perception of

symbolism in voicing to America and to the World, that not only have Africa Americans been in existence as

human beings since the beginning of time, but they will continue to thrive in life, regardless of mistreatment.

     In Langston Hughes' very powerful and symbolic poem, 'The Negro Speaks Of Rivers', he used four of the

greatest rivers of the world and related them to the lives of Africans and to African Americans from the

beginning of ancient time until when the poem was actually written in 1920.  What I see is that Hughes was

proud of his heritage, and that all people should be proud of their history and of who they are.  For instance,

African Americans lived through much suffering of slavery and racial discrimination.  "I've Known rivers: I've

known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins." (Hughes, Lines 1-3).

He goes on to give examples of identifying the African heritage with the first human beings on earth and what

they were involved in without actually saying it, but usually symbolism.  For example, "I bathed in the Euphrates

when dawns were young.  I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.  I looked upon the Nile and

raised the pyramids above it." (Hughes, 5-7) clearly states that his heritage had been around since the beginning

of time and will continue doing so.  In addition, I am thinking that he is also meaning that rivers stand for an

eternal life force because of the 'river of life' scripture in the King James Bible.  For example, "And he shewed

me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb." (King

James Bible, Rev. 22.1).  Water seems to be a common symbolic representation of eternal life in Bible Scripture,

and would be an appropriate symbol for life in general, since physical water is necessary to live.   Therefore,

Hughes might have had this connection in his poem, 'The Negro Speaks Of Rivers', as well.  Regardless, it is

obvious that Hughes regards the soul of African American heritage as one that  has huge meaning and runs very

deep, like the rivers. My soul has grown deep like the rivers. (Hughes, 4 and 13).  Moreover, it seems that "my

soul" (as well as "I" and "I've) stands for all African Americans lives and souls being deep in life...then, now,

and always.  Hughes continued to show the world, and especially to Americans, that African Americans will

continue living deep in soul in his poem, 'I, Too'.

     Hughes' poem titled, 'I, Too' is very short in words, but is very large is power because he basically said that

African Americans were still there, growing strong and happy as ever.  I believe that he was speaking ‘more’ to

America, where he was living at that time, than to the whole world.  He wrote, "I, too, sing America. I am the

darker brother.  They send me to eat in the kitchen When company comes, But I laugh, And eat well, And grow

strong." (Hughes, Lines 1-7).  I feel that he is saying that darker-skin is just as equal and as beautiful as any other

human race, and I agree with him.  Hughes is also making sure that everyone knows that regardless of how

African Americans are being treated, that will continue to sing, laugh, and live. They were being treated to feel

much less inferior the color of their skin by being segregated and mistreated. Hughes told America and the world

that they were people too, and to oppress someone for their ethnic background is shameful. He also had hope that

time will eventually change and this will not be happening in the future. For example he wrote, "Tomorrow, I'll

be at the table When company comes.  Nobody'll dare Say to me, "Eat in the kitchen," Then.  Besides, They'll

see how beautiful I am And be ashamed.  (Hughes, 8-17).  He wrote this poem in 1945, about ten years before

the start of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.  Who would have guessed that the first African American President

of the United States would be elected only 63 years later!

     Personally, I agree with what Langston Hughes was stating in both of these poems.  I can see by both of these

two poems what he meant by calling himself a "Negro poet" instead of just "a poet". With that being said, he

also looked up to Caucasians as poet writers as well.  A good quote to verify this is when he said, "I would like

to write like a white poet." (L. Kirszner, S. Mandell 937).  Hughes poems were for every audience to read, and

he represented the African American people at large with every "me, myself, I, I've, my, and my soul".  Hughes

was the voice for his black African American heritage.  Hughes's insistence on identifying his voice as black

most definitely did not imply excluding nonblack readers, but were even more ‘for’ them.  Both of the poems I

chose to respond to, revealed this, but especially his poem, "I, Too".  This is because it is blunter in wording, and

with less symbolic imagery.  “I, too, am America." (Hughes, 18).  “I”, of course, standing for every African

American living in the United States of America.

     In conclusion, I feel that Hughes wanted all people to know that African Americans have always been around,

have seen and went through everything, and cannot be shaken or broken.  I think that Hughes' inspirational poetry

played in how the lack of civil rights have changed for the better. He made it clear that his heritage had always been

in existence, and were not odd aliens from another planet. They would continue living human lives for ages more to

come, as all people do.  All of his work, but especially the two poems I responded to, are the best reminders of how

every person's hopes and dreams can become a future reality, regardless of barriers.

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