The Comparison of Langston and Angelou
The writing styles of Maya Angelou and Langston Hughes are very similar, evident in Angelou’s poem, “Africa” and Hughes’s poem, “Negro”. Even from the titles, you can see that these poems will be about African Americans, unsurprising considering the authors. Both are activists of letting the world know of the abuse that African Americans have suffered. Many aspects of their works are very similar, including the repetitional usage of words, stanzas, or phrases. They both speak out about slavery, they both use a broadened form of their topics and they both have interesting uses of the past and present tenses, making you relate to the poem on a very personal level, while at the same time, forcing you to see that there is a much greater thing happening right before your eyes. While containing less differences than similarities, it is very fun to notice that while Langston’s poem is very self reflective and personal, Angelou’s is grand; speaking outright of an entire continent instead of one person. The difference then, turns out not to be a difference at all, just another similarity in disguise. Both authors are heading in the same direction, for the same conclusion, yet in different ways.
First, I want to analyze the historical context of the poems. Hughes was a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance and Maya Angelou did not acquire fame and recognition until 1969, with the publishing of her first autobiography, I Know Why Caged Birds Sing. Even though both authors’ works were decades apart, they both speak of history that was way before their time. Most of “Africa” takes place in the past, evident in the first line of the poem, “Thus she had lain”(1). With the verb tense indicating the past tense. Hughes’ poem differs in that the poem is told from the first person point of view but is not referring to just Hughes himself. The second stanza provides the first evidence of this, “I’ve been a slave/ Caesar to me to...
Cited: Angelou, Maya. “Africa”. Literature; Reading, Reacting, Writing. Ed. Laurie Krisner and Stephen Mandell. Boston: Thompson Heine, 2001. 995-996. Print
Hughes, Langston. “Negro”. Literature; Reading, Reacting, Writing. Ed. Laurie Krisner and Stephen Mandell. Boston: Thompson Heine, 2001. 746-747.
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