The Harlem Renaissance By Langston Hughes

Improved Essays
“Politics can be the graveyard of the poet. And only poetry can be his resurrection.”
The often-crowned laureate of Harlem, Langston Hughes through his literary works faithfully recorded the authenticity and nuances of the African American experience. The opening line draws attention to Hughes internal struggle that had followed throughout his artistic career, as he was attempting to seek out whether art could be free of any involvement of political propaganda and to be left as pure poetry, during this cultural explosion termed as the Harlem Renaissance. Literature in the form of poetry can be used as a powerful tool in the exploration of the historical past as it captures the essence of a phenomenon by revealing an insight into the thoughts
…show more content…
In his time, Hughes was often criticized by his contemporaries, although his legacy remains fairly embedded within the African American community due to his ever-strengthening commitment in portraying the realities of African American lives and their frustrations. The two poems written by Hughes, being The Weary Blues 1926, and Montage of a Dream Differed 1951, will be used simultaneously to examine the clashing portrayals of Harlem, whether it was a cultural hub in this Renaissance period or merely a ramshackle ghetto that was oblivious during this era of exuberance. Ultimately, this leads one to question the roles of the Harlem Renaissance artists; as either being social protestors whose goal was to intertwin with mainstream culture, or the path that Hughes was travelling …show more content…
However, there existed challengers in the depiction of the African American experience as the black writers had to overcome what Hughes had deemed as a figurative “Mountain”, and called upon Afro Americans to establish their own cultural framework. These artists merely wanted to be recognised for their talents without the racial card hanging around their necks. Hughes wanted to embrace both the beauty and rigour of the black community, regardless of whether it had appeased the white society or not. Furthermore, the tensions surrounding Hughes was inlaid in the purpose of his work, grappling whether poetry should function as art or as a political tool. In 1926, Dubious voiced his concerns that the Renaissance writers have neglected the opportunity to use their platform for striving to gain racial equality, asserting that since all forms of art have a message to portray, the writers should at least be conscious of their works and its political intent. Alternatively, Hughes had the belief that pure art was devoid of any connection to propaganda and could still have merit regardless of the subject matter and its creator. Therefore, Hughes championed the notion that creative individualism would function as the guiding principles of the emerging Afro American

Related Documents

  • Great Essays

    Black Art Poem Analysis

    • 1329 Words
    • 6 Pages

    The father of the Black Arts Movement is Amiri Baraka. He got this name because he wrote so many essays, poems, and plays about racial issues in Harlem. In the time there was a lot of racial injustice of African Americans civil rights. Baraka’s most known piece that he has written is his poem called “Black Art.” His works such as “Black Art” and many others have been centered around the lack of civil rights for black people. Baraka works can be interpreted in so many ways because it incites the readers to analyze his work as they read.…

    • 1329 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Great Essays
  • Improved Essays

    The inspiration behind Langston Hughes poetry was the racial conflict going on at the time of the Harlem Renaissance. Hughes took his poetry and voiced his opinion on politics, current events, and his thoughts about what an American should be. The contradiction of being both black and American was a significant one for Hughes. Although this anomaly was troublesome, his situation as such granted him an almost desired status. Due to his place as a black American poet, his work was all the more accessible.…

    • 1035 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    The United States began to see the black community as a serious source of literature, art, and especially music. Before now, whites had a virtual monopoly on the arts. In the face of opposition, black artists make literature and art to reflect their feelings of desired freedom. Several themes emerged in an effort to recapture the African American past—its rural southern roots, urban experience, and African heritage. The exploration of black southern heritage was reflected in novels by Zora Neale Hurston.…

    • 1088 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Although Langston Hughes wrote both poems there are many differences. As “Negro” is centered around what has happened and what has been done to African Americans in the past “Harlem” focuses on the equality’s African Americans long for. Through the use of literary elements such as, similes, diction, imagery and tone Hughes is available to fully portray the themes of both poems to readers clearly. In both poems Hughes wanted to clearly identify the purpose of his poems so readers truly understood the barriers African Americans went through. Foremost the themes of both poems go to show that when race is involved in dreams they can be challenging to achieve, without a fight hopes and ambitions would be nothing but a…

    • 829 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Superior Essays

    In the 1950’s black people were still suffering from oppression at the hands of white men. Many literary artists wrote about this oppression, despite the violence that might have come their way. “Harlem” is one of these literary works were written in 1951 by Langston Hughes, an American poet, novelist, and social activist. Throughout his life, Hughes published numerous works, most of which portrayed the life of black people, and his work had a major influence on the artistic styles of the Harlem Renaissance. Hughes’ main point in “Harlem” is that African Americans’ dreams are being deferred because of all the racism in the country (Jordan).…

    • 1651 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Superior Essays

    In Harlem, the speaker is personifying the theme of a civil rights movement and the social mobility frustrations of the African-Americans at this time in America. Harlem is Hughes’s more famous poems and one of his shortest; consisting of 5 stanzas, 11 lines with all but one line being a question. Hughes addresses one of his more common themes of limitations of the African-American dreams in America. Hughes approaches the poem in anger and spite which is evident in the language used in the poem—portraying sights and sounds that are unpleasant and carrying negative connotations. For example, in…

    • 1652 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Superior Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Both works express a desire for a significant figure of the past to rectify the wrongs that have overtaken London and America. The poems are both odes to specific individuals and, at the same time, condemnations of modern societies. Wordsworth, however, is nostalgic for the era of Milton in which London was powerful and its people were virtuous and proud of their nation. Dunbar describes his time as similar to Douglass’s, but the mistreatment in Dunbar’s time towards the black community is getting worse and the blacks have no leader to help them move forward and reach true freedom. The language and structure of the two poems are also contrasting.…

    • 1188 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen were both very influential people during the Harlem Renaissance. Throughout almost all of their writings on this subject they have had conflicting views and they have given contradicting advice to African-American writers and poets. They both have their own ideas on gaining success in America through poetry. Countee Cullen gives his advice through the preface in Caroling Dusk and he advises that since these black have grown up in the English culture they don’t truly understand the black vernacular. So in order to be successful, Cullen believes that they have to conform to the ways of White poets and blend in with their ways so people can’t discriminate based on the writing.…

    • 961 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Hughes argues that black artists should embrace their otherness and stop copying the whites. Moreover, they are capable of creating newness on their own if they embrace their heritage. Notably, Hughes expresses his aspiration to be a poet, not a ‘Negro poet,’ and he depicts the desire of African Americans to be white (Hughes, n.p). Furthermore, the ‘mountain of assimilation’ is expressed in his assertion that middle-class black Americans are in constant urge to be identified with the “superior” race. The mountain he talks about is the black’s rejection of their culture since the white race is associated with higher morals, ethics, and intelligence.…

    • 971 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Because they were forced to harbor their individuality under Whites, African Americans had no opportunity for independence and continued to live under injustice. However, they soon discovered they were capable of influencing the nation with their artistic aspects and employed that into their endeavors toward liberty. Langston Hughes, a celebrated social activist and poet, commonly wrote addresses regarding the hardships of African American lives and the actions they must take to restore their rights. In his speech concerning the need of cultural expression, The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain, he strongly asserted that “we build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how, and we stand on top of the mountain, free within ourselves,” broadcasting that the Whites’ “displeasure don’t matter” to the African Americans. Hughes stressed that the Black community should convey their individualism and embrace their creativity without fear of Whites oppressing them.…

    • 1065 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays