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Poetry of Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes copes with the reality of race in his works and with the social tensions beset the black community. The poetry of Langston Hughes is challenging. It derives from a different tradition from most American poetry, a tradition of black culture, of jazz, and of protest. Hughes celebrated his racial identity, something few poets had done before. He was said to speak for the black masses, and he took this responsibility much to heart. Hughes' poetry seems to come from somewhere deep inside and to explode as a spontaneous utterance, however carefully designed it may actually be. For the black man, society demands a certain level of behavior, denying individuality, while at the same time denying full membership in the society imposing these rules. Hughes feels the force of this paradox in his life and expresses this idea in his poetry, asserting an individual vision through his work that is difficult for the average black man to achieve in society. He accomplishes this by making use of the black experience in America and by drawing upon black idioms, language, music, and cultural elements to evoke a vision of the black man in American life.

Hughes came from the black world of the 1920s, a time when black culture was becoming more appealing to white society through the jazz and other music blacks produced. Hughes' poetry was part of the so-called Harlem Renaissance, the name given this explosion in black culture across a wide front, beginning in Harlem and moving outward. Hughes tried to create a poetry that evoked the spirit of black America, and this necessitated creating a black identity that made sense to him and that would appeal to his audience at the same time. The voice he developed came from his experience and reflected the experience of the black masses he represented. His writings of every sort told the story of the black man in America.

In his poetry, Hughes considers the point of view of the black...

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Poetry of Langston Hughes. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 13:59, March 19, 2019, from