Langston Hughes employs various themes in his poetry work that depict the feelings of black people towards various issues. The following are some of the ways through which he used poetry to allow black people to express themselves.
Use of Music:
He employs the use of music particularly jazz and blues that allows him to perfectly craft his poems. There is a presence of beats and rhythms that are identifiable in many of his poems. The lines he uses tend to read like blues songs verses and reflect themes common in the blues genre of music like hopelessness, sorrow, anger and lost love. He frequently alludes to music that originated from the slavery error, employing the use of the pattern of a call and response in the link creation between the present and past and for auditory effect. Through the invocation of music traditions of slaves a connection to the painful history of African Americans is created by Hughes. There is a distinct tone...
of expression in Hughes blues and jazz songs in his poetry that tends to show and express the experiences of loneliness, sorrow and alienation of the black community.
There was a common feeling amongst the readers of Hughes work during his time that the poetry was a direct exploration of their lives, fears, hopes, dreams and past as opposed to the poetry work of modern life that are obtuse in nature. There is an embodiment of life complexities in a segregated America by the African American characters in his works and creations. His works are from the view point of finding dignity in the day to day struggles of frustrated dreamers, children of a biracial nature, struggling jazz and blues musicians, students who are disenfranchised etc. His poems tend to call attention to the endurance, purity of souls and strength of the characters he uses. He as well defies the white beauty standards that were in dominance in the culture of the 20th century through praising the physical beauty of the characters he used.
Emphasizing the American Dream:
There is an invocation of the American Dream theme that was stated by Truslow James in 1931as “life being richer, fuller and better for every individual with the provision of opportunity to each individual in accordance to achievement or ability in the poems of Hughes. He addresses his concepts from the view of the disenfranchised groups in the country, which included the back people amongst others like poor farmers and downtrodden immigrants. He shows how the glories of equality and liberty are out of reach for such groups and how they are trapped under poverty, oppression and prejudice fist. Shows how their dreams are crushed and forgotten in desperation for survival life. In the end Hughes however ends his poems in hope believing that the blacks will one day break free and pursue their
Hughes portrays the kind of oppression that was undergone in the hands of the system of patriarchy by the black people and denounces racism in his poems. He insinuates the disapproval of the black people in gaining access to the American dream alluding aspirations that are forgotten and lost by the blacks because of their race. Depicts racism to be of a hypocritical religious nature in the short story of “On the Road” significantly in “Mother to Son” he shows various vicissitudes faced either indirectly or directly due to the skin color through the mother. By being realistic about the kind of the environment he leaves in and expressing hope on a better tomorrow that is free from inequality he gives the black people a reason to believe and fight towards achieving those dreams and hopes.
In many of Hughes poems the speakers start in situations of hopelessness and despondency such as a biracial man struggling with his identity, a character facing discrimination and so on. He then tends to create a narrative which culminates into the speaker attaining a self-actualization state. The speakers are able to realize their inner inherent strength despite of the difficulty of their surroundings that propels them in persevering against the odds. (Walker et al 2002)
Stating Importance of Aspiration:
He in most cases writes in his poems on aspiration as dreams. He tends to explore black peoples redeem dreams, lost dreams, dreams regained and hidden dreams. He believed that the treatment of the blacks as second class citizens in America during the slavery and oppression times led to the black people hiding their dreams out of the psychological barrier created by the inferiority complex. As in many of his characters the attainability chances of their dreams is almost none however he states how important it is in keeping the dreams alive in order for the characters sustainability of the will to live.
How Black People Expressed Themselves through Jazz and Blues
There was an interpretation of the feelings of hopelessness and oppression confronted in the day to day lives of the black people that were incorporated into jazz and blues songs by black artists. The black artists created a link pattern in their jazz and blues music between the past and the present through the invocation of musical traditions, this aided in their connection to the painful past. Their feelings were also expressed through the distinctively expressive tones of the two genres of music that depicted tales on discrimination, sorrow and loneliness.
Free Verse Writers
An African-American writer that made the use of lyrical poems which at times employed the use of vernacular. He wrote on a variety of themes that included, racial upliftment, the plight that was suffered by the African-Americans and even romance. The most remarkable themes in his poetry works are considered to be equality and slavery. The fight for justice and equality is depicted in many of his poems such as in “The Haunted Oak” where the oak is created to speak about the injustice made when an innocent black man is charged and hanged on the oaks