November 16, 2014
Langston Hughes was an American poet, social activist, and novelist who also was the leader of the Harlem Renaissance. He was well-known for his poetry in the early 20th century, in which most of his work reflected the oppression experienced by blacks in the south. Such as poems “crossed” and “song from a dark girl”, in which the two poems are similar in tone, language, and symbolism. The tone in both poems are of distress and confusion which derived from the discrimination towards blacks in the early 1900’s. Both poems expresses a great amount of sorrow due unjust racial discrimination imposed on blacks at the time. Lines such as “they hung my black lover” and “I wonder where I’m gone die, being neither white or black” exemplifies the distressfulness in the tone of both poems. In the poem “a song for a black girl” a African American girl expresses her sorrow over her dead black lover, who was hung, which we can assume was done by whites; because of the racial discrimination and segregation between blacks and whites in the south. Similar to the distress the author of the poem “cross” is experiencing, in which the writer is “mixed” with a white father and black mother. The author is angry and confused about his racial identity because of the heavy racial basis and segregation in the south, placing him in a purgatory area, not knowing if he’ll die as a white man or black man. According to Billing, “the poem Song for a dark girl is a description of the distressful emotions felt by an African American girl during a time of brutal treatment towards her black lover, and blacks as a whole, to express how wrong their treatment was” (1). Africans Americans, primarily in the south, experienced an extreme amount of prejudice and discrimination from whites because of their pigmentation in the early 1900’s. Similar to the prejudice the author of the poem “cross” experienced. The description of the poem “cross” is the narrator expressing his frustrations of being both black and white, but never fully belonging to either race. He’s not accepted by blacks because he’s half white’ and white’s reject him because he’s half black. Because of the cultural and racial segregation between blacks and whites, he is deprived of the chance to immerse in either race. Both poems symbolizes the life and unjust treatment of African Americans during the early 20th century. Through analysis of the title of both poems, it’s clear that they are ambiguous in meaning, in which they can be interpret many different ways. For example, the author expressed in the title that the song is for “a dark girl”, which can be taken in literal sense, a girl with dark skin who is an African American, Billing (2). Also “dark girl” could be taken metaphorically, where as “dark” means a lack of light; in which light is defined as something that stimulates sight and make things visible (Billing 2). Therefore “dark” could mean lack of knowledge, where someone is in the dark about something, and in this case a “dark girl” can be reference to a girl being ignorant about the ignominious relationship she was pursuing with her lover, according to Billing (4). Similar to “song for a dark”, the title “cross” is ambiguous in meaning as well. The author of the poem is mulatto or mixed, therefore he is crossed-breed; and is where the title “cross” can be referenced from. Also the author is at a cross-road between identifying himself as a black man or a white man, which is he unsure of which world he fit in. Throughout the poem he makes a cross-over in emotions, at first the author expresses his angry and resentment towards his parents, then later lets go of his angry and forgives them both. That can also be an interpretation of the title “cross”. And lastly, due to the social stratifications, the narrator was to carry a burden or a “cross to bear” for the rest of his life. Similar to the cross Jesus beard, before his...
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