The Harlem Renaissance took place in 1920s to the mid 1930s, it happened in New York City and it was a cultural bloom. The literary and artistic movement spurred a new black cultural identity. The reason why it occurred was because after the civil war the former slaves all went and lived in the same area, and that was the area where people started creating their own art and literary to define who they were. During the Harlem Renaissance the black people had almost no rights in politics and in society with white people. Even though no deference were shown to the black people, heroes and inspirations flourished and all of them were extremely passionate with what they did. One of the most important figures of literary during the Harlem Renaissance was Langston Hughes,(Swisher 1) he was a poet and a story writer. Amongst many works, the two poem Langston Hughes wrote called “Democracy” and “My people” received a lot of love and respect from people.
James Mercer Langston Hughes (February 1, 1902- May 22, 1967) was an American poet and a storywriter. He was born in Joplin, Missouri. He started writing poetry when he started living with his mother around the age of 10 in Ohio. (Langston Hughes 1) His first poetry was “The negro speaks of rivers” which was published in The Crisis magazine. After dropping out of Columbia in 1922 he traveled around Europe and published more poems. When he came back to America, he met Vachel Lindsay a famous poet that helped promote Hughe’s poetry, which made him more known. Few years after that he not only wrote books and poems, but even plays and lyrics for a Broadway musical, he became the first poet to make a living by writing. (Langston Hughes 2) Hughes died from prostate cancer, but not all of him died, he became an inspiration to others and still remains a historical figure of the Harlem Renaissance.
“Democracy” (1949) is a poem about Langston Hughes’s point of view of politics. He had the same views as an average black person living in Harlem. In this poem Hughes stresses the point of freedom as one of the most essential factor a person needs. The main conflict in this poem is that no freedom will come to them. Hughes wrote “Democracy will not come, Today, this year nor ever” This shows how black people were treated in order for them to feel this hopeless about their freedom. Hughes also displayed how desperate he was with his freedom, he said “I have as much right as the other fellow has to stand On my two feet and own the land.” He compares himself to other white people that are free. When he says this he is not representing himself only, but every single African American.
The tone of this poem is hopeless. The poem is clear in it’s meaning and straightforward with the ideas, which allows people to picture how it is without freedom. Hughes uses a metaphor that helps the poem’s tone to stand out more. He uses two metaphor, the first one is “I cannot live on tomorrow’s bread.” When he says this, he means he cannot live unsure and needs the basic factor that all human beings have, food is the most basic necessity us human beings need in order to survive, one will not be able to survive when they rely on food that will be given to them tomorrow. When he says “Freedom is a strong seed” he emphasizes that one can only be free when everyone around them is not racist and supportive, and the idea that it will only flourish when the seed is strong enough for the outcome. The tone of seriousness and a few metaphors in addition constructs the poem perfectly.
There are two distinct themes in this poem, which is freedom and racism. The clarity of this poem makes it obvious for readers to know his point. He compares himself with others to highlight the fact that he wants equal treatment in his own country, and even uses metaphors to show what freedom means to him. On the other hand, the theme of racism is behind the poem, having knowledge about his biography; readers can...
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