Langston Hughes Essay, Research Paper
In 1902, Langston Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri. He grew up in many different places such as Kansas, Illinois, and Ohio. His birth given name was James Mercer Langston Hughes. Later he dropped the first two names. Mary Patterson Leary Carrie Mercer Langston Hughes, Langston s mother, was a schoolteacher. Langston s father, James Nathaniel Langston Hughes, was never around. Langston mainly lived with his mother. When Langston was very young his parents separated, and his grandmother took care of him. Langston wrote his first poem in eighth-grade. Some of his influences included Vachel Lindsay, Paul Dunbar, Walt Whitman, and Carl Sandburg. He combined their dialects to create his own unique style. His first poem was read at his grammar school graduation. Langston went to New York in 1921 to attend Columbia University. He stayed for only one year. Then he left to see the world. When he left New York Harbor, he threw all his books, which he had been studying, overboard. Langston went to Europe and Africa. His exposure to blues and jazz in Europe and Africa provided him with a rich source of material that he used over the next decades of his writing (Magill, Frank, 1428). Langston has influenced American literature.
From 1919-1929 there was a movement called the Harlem Renaissance. Langston s best known literary exponents were during the Harlem Renaissance (Rollock, Barbara, 295). During the Second World War Langston was a member of The Music War Board, The Theatre Wing of the New York Stage Door Canteen, and The Writers War Board. In 1952, he published a collection of twenty-four short stories called Laughing to Keep from Crying . His writings were spontaneous art which stood or fell by the sureness of his intuition, and his mother s wit (Kunitz, Stanley, 467).
Most of Langston s writings were largely concerned with the depicting of Negro life in America (Kunitz, 467). Langston was versatile and prolific, writing poetry, newspaper columns, novels, short stories, plays, musicals, lyrics for popular operas, and both fiction and nonfiction for small children. However, he was primarily a poet. He wrote two novels Not Without Laughter and Tambourines to Glory. His first short story was Mary Winosky . He wrote several poems with Harlem in the title such as Harlem . It was a short reflective poem, somber in tone, with an ominous pointedly italicized ending (Magill, Frank, 902). It is a lyric poem.
Analysis of Poems
The poems I selected from Lanston Hughes are out of a book called Selected Poems of Langston Hughes. I also read several poems out of the Elements of Literature book. The ten poems I picked are: “Harlem , I Too , The Weary Blues , Mother to Son , The Negro Mother , Africa , “Troubled Woman , To be Somebody , Magnolia Flowers , and Negro . These poems are ones that I felt he was influenced to write. Coming from such influences as, the Harlem Renaissance or his over seas influences. In Harlem it seems Langston is very angry at the world. In I Too the poem seems more like a song. The Weary Blues is a sad jazz like song with rhythm. I thought it was a moving poem. In Mother to Son , the mother talks to her son about growing up and that it has not been easy. In The Negro Mother , the mother tells the black children of the world to seize the day. In Africa , Langston describes Africa the continent as a whole and how beautiful it is. In Troubled Woman , it seems Langston wrote about a person he saw on the street standing there in the rain. Magnolia Flowers is about Langston looking for attractive women, but he can only find unattractive ones. None of the women that he sees fit his standards. In Negro , Langston seems like a sad black man talking about how he feels different from everyone else.
Langston Hughes had a significant impact on the society of Harlem (AAP, 1997-2000). He has written many different types of literature. Though over seas and the Harlem Renaissance influenced Langston Hughes, he was able to become an influential poet. By setting an example of working through oppression, Hughes moved many the masses. Langston Hughes is a poet who will continue to influence American literature for centuries to come.