Langston Hughes Poetry Offer Insight To African AmericanPresentation Transcript
Langston hughes poetry offer insight to africanamerican struggle.
Langston Hughes Family Born in Joplin, Missouri, James Langston Hughes was a member of an abolitionist family. Grandmother – Mary Langston – an American citizen of French, Cherokee, and African descent, was 19 yrs old when men tried to kidnap her and sell her as a slave. Her first husband was Lewis Leary, killed in 1859 at Harper’s Ferry, W.V. during John Brown’s raid on the federal arsenal. Grandfather – Charles Langston, son of a White plantation owner Mother – Carrie Hughes, school teacher who also wrote poetry. After she became married was unable to teach due to the customs back then. Father – James (Jim) Hughes, law clerk and taught school but was forbidden to take the ‘Bar’ because he was black. Jim was a difficult man, who was driven by ambition to make money and achieve respect. He expressed contempt for black Americans who continued to submit to segregation and live in poverty.
Langston Hughes Langston Hughes born February 1, 1902 in Joplin Missouri to Carolina (Carrie) Mercer Langston. Langston was raised by his grandmother until he was thirteen years old, Mary Langston. While living with her he endured racism from his teachers and the boys in his neighborhood. Although he endured racism during his young years, it didn’t stop him from learning. While in cleveland, he stopped for something to eat and a white man refuse to eat at the same table with him, and a fountain clerk in St. Louis refused to sell him a fountain drink.
Langston Hughes He turned away quietly. But decided at that time instead of running away from the ‘color line’ and hating himself for being black, like his father, he would write about the real-life experiences of black people. One of his first poem was a free verse poem called “ The Negro Speaks of Rivers”, he wrote en route to Mexico. While on the train he saw muddy, rolling water and was inspired to write this poem.
"The Negro Speaks of Rivers” I've known rivers: I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins. My soul has grown deep like the rivers. I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young. I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep. I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it. I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went down to New Orleans, and I've seen its muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset. I've known rivers: Ancient, dusky rivers. My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
The Mississippi, like the Euphrates, the Congo,and Nile rivers, symbolized the life blood of black people who had built civilizations upon river banks. "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" is perhaps the most profound of these poems of heritage and strength. Composed when Hughes was a mere 17 years old, and dedicated to W. E. B. DuBois, it is a sonorous evocation of transcendent essences so ancient as to appear timeless, predating human existence, longer than human memory. They are the earthly analogues of eternity: deep, continuous, mysteriousAsthe rivers deepen with time, so does the black man's soul; as their waters ceaselessly flow, so will the black soul endure. The black man has seen the rise and fall of civilizations from the earliest times, seen the beauty and death-changes of the world over the thousands of years, and will survive even this America.
“Dreams Deferred” What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore-- and then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over-- like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode?
Weary Blues Droning a drowsy syncopated tune, Rocking back and forth to a mellow croon, I heard a Negro play. Down on Lenox Avenue the other night By the pale dull pallor of an old gas light He did a lazy sway .... He did a lazy sway .... To the tune o' those Weary Blues. With his ebony hands on each ivory key He made that poor piano moan with melody. O Blues! Swaying to and fro on his rickety stool He played that sad raggy tune like a musical fool. Sweet Blues! Coming from a black man's soul. O Blues! In a deep song voice with a melancholy toneI heard that Negro sing, that old piano moan-- "Ain't got nobody in all this world, Ain't got nobody but ma self. I's gwine to quit ma frownin' And put ma troubles on the shelf."
Weary Blues Cont’d Thump, thump, thump, went his foot on the floor. He played a few chords then he sang some more-- "I got the Weary Blues And I can't be satisfied. Got the Weary Blues And can't be satisfied-- I ain't happy no mo' And I wish that I had died." And far into the night he crooned that tune. The stars went out and so did the moon. The singer stopped playing and went to bed While the Weary Blues echoed through his head. He slept like a rock or a man that's dead.
Langston Hughes He wrote novels, short stories and plays, as well as poetry, and is also known for his engagement with the world of jazz and the influence it had on his writing, as in "Montage of a Dream Deferred." His life and work were enormously important in shaping the artistic contributions of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. Unlike other notable black poets of the period—Claude McKay, Jean Toomer, and Countee Cullen—Hughes refused to differentiate between his personal experience and the common experience of black America. He wanted to tell the stories of his people in ways that reflected their actual culture, including both their suffering and their love of music, laughter, and language itself.
Langston Hughes Langston Hughes was, in his later years, deemed the "Poet Laureate of the Negro Race,“ a title he encouraged. Hughes meant to represent the race in his writing and he was, perhaps, the most original of all African American poets. On May 22, 1967 Langston Hughes died after having had abdominal surgery. Hughes' funeral, like his poetry, was all blues and jazz: the jazz pianist Randy Weston was called and asked to play for Hughes's funeral. Very little was said by way of eulogy, but the jazz and the blues were hot, and the final tribute to this writer so influenced by African American musical forms was fitting.