Commentary On Langston Hughes Essay, Research Paper
Commentary on Langston Hughes Poem: Let America Be America Again
According to a poem written by Langston Hughes tilted
Let America Be America Again, he addresses the plight of America. He focuses his attention on the deferred dreams of those who dare to believe in the principles of equality and opportunity. Hughes clearly refutes the foundation on which this country rests which is the Declaration of Independence. Although many may argue this poem was formulated during a time of civil inequality the message is supported by history and the current status of America, which has many of the same social problems it had when it was founded.
Hughes poem is insightful and created for a general audience. The narrative is told through the eyes of an African American, but he assumes the role of the poor white, Negro, redman, and immigrant. He further asserts his common bond with the unfortunate Americans by stating I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil. I am the worker sold to the machine. I am the Negro, servant to you all. I am the people, humble, hungry mean. This repetitive structure reaffirms the reader that this is a personal struggle that many can relate to.
Hughes presents America as a tarnished symbol that was built on the backs of those who fell prey to the spell America cast on them. The poem opens with patriotic flair, Let be the pioneer on the plain; Seeking a home where he himself is free. This image of opportunism and freedom seem more like a dream than reality when he continues on in the poem. He alludes to the Declaration of Independence by saying, Let it be a strong land of love; where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme; That any man be crushed by one above. We are a society founded on the principle of dog eats dog and mighty crush the weak. Our strong land of love is a society where love succumbs to power, profit, and greed. The symbol of Lady Liberty has lost its luster and she is crowned with a false patriotic wreath. Hughes even compares the less fortunate to those that mumble in the dark, and questions those that draws a veil across the stars, keeping those that wish upon a star hopeless. The problems addressed in the poem are as historic as America itself.
The theme of the poem is centered on the idea making all Americans feel like their contribution to America is of great importance. Hughes was the young man, full of strength and hope that died before he could see the progress of his people or the acceptance in the Americans as a whole. He was part of the minority that was not allowed to have a voice. He lived under a democratic government but the phrase homeland of the free held little to no meaning to him. He felt the sting of all those ugly names. He was the one sick with anger after his fruitless labor yet I am the one who benefits from his struggle.
In parallel to the theme of Hughes poem, great strides have been made to further the ideals of Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness, but the dream is not yet a reality. I feel like I have to work twice as hard to achieve my goals in life because I am not one of the privileged few that he speaks of in this poem. I am a young man, full of strength and hope, tangled in the ancient endless chain of inequality. We still strike, march, sing, and pray but when will see a better day? They gave us Affirmative Action instead of a promise of a fair chance. They tell us we have a fair shake when we will not live to see twenty years old in the projects. Our America has money for wars and space exploration, but choose to cut welfare and Medicare knowing that it effects the less fortunate. Where is that strong land of love when you need it? When will we see a black President or vice-President for that matter? I am still called ugly names yet I am equal? Why am I an African-American when my roots are not so? We still have more the blood, sweat, and tears to spill before those scars can heal.
It would have been easy for Langston Hughes to perpetuate anger but he dared to dream. He dreamed of a land of promise and a better tomorrow. It is sad that a man that contributed so much to American literature never felt like he belonged. As Americans and as humans we need to now that we belong to something. We need to know that hard work and perseverance stands for something. We need to end the legacy of greed that constantly eats away at the fabric of America. I agree with his views, America was built on lies and broken promises but like Langston I dare to dream and maybe my tomorrow will be a better one. Maybe our America can be a place where dreams become a reality.