The Harlem Renaissance Essay

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The Harlem Renaissance

Until the first part of the Twentieth Century, Caucasian artists dominated the world of poetry. White poetry written about the experiences of white people was the only kind of verse most people had ever heard. With the arrival of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920's, this relatively cultured world of American poetry was shaken to its foundations. The term Harlem Renaissance refers to an artistic, cultural, and social burgeoning of writings about race and the African American's place in American life during the early 1920's and 1930's. It was a time of political advancements, social criticism, and protest as well as the growth of literature. Harlem was the center of urban black life. Many African Americans, who
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"Mother to Son" is a dramatic monologue, spoken not by the poet's own voice but in a imagined speaker in this case a black mother to her son. Using a metaphor of a stairway, the mother tells her son that the journey of life resembles a long, hard, dark stairway than a glide down a "crystal stair". The "crystal stair" is a metaphor for the American dream and its promise that all Americans shall have equal opportunities. In this poem, Hughes represents the personal, collective, and spiritual importance of struggle, endurance, and faith. Langston Hughes has earned a place amongst the greatest poets America has ever produced. More than that, Hughes has given a voice to the African American experience. Hughes poetry announced to the world that the streets of black America contained a culture rich and vibrant. This announcement was to become his life's mission, something he foretold long before his name became a household name.

Countee Cullen was another contributor to the Harlem Renaissance expressing the themes in the life of his race and the shedding of light on social reality. Countee Cullen, a black middle-class New Yorker, experienced these issues mostly in a divisive fashion: he wanted to be a traditional poet but felt it his duty to speak about a black experience that was not entirely his own. As a poet Cullen was conservative, he did not ignore racial themes, but

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