English 1002 M
Langston Hughes Poem
Langston Hughes “ Will V-Day Be Me-Day Too? ( A Negro Fighting Man’s Letter to America)” is a is a poem written around the 1940’s in the presence of world war 2 and black oppression. The poem begins wit the reference “ Over There, World War II” which sets the time the poem was written. First the structure of the poem is very repetitive and neat. The poem is broken up into 8 unique stanzas along with each stanza containing 8 lines except for the first and last. The first and last stanza each have 9 which I believe is intentionally done by Hughes because they are the opening and closing to the poem and contain some similarities. Both stanzas are setting up not only setting up the tone and style that is to fallow but also setting up the story of the poem. The opening stanza, just like the closing one, contain the main title of the piece “Will V-Day Be Me-Day Too?”. It is important to note how while in the opening stanza Hughes is asking a question just like the closing stanza, the opening stanza contains no answer to the question simply ending the stanza there. However, in the last stanza the question is followed by request. This shows somewhat of a progression through the poem and some hope in Hughes eyes. The interior stanzas, those other than the first and last, each contain 8 lines. I consider this to have relevance to the predicted time the poem was written. Many believe the poem was written in 1948, the same year that president Dwight D Eisenhower desegregated the military, which is a critical theme in Hughes poem. I tie the use of eight lines in Hughes poem to that year it was written. The eight ties back to the 8 in 1948 because of its historical relevance and application to Hughes themes in the poem. This theme of desegregation is found in multiple places in the poem such as when Hughes says, “I face death the same as you do… Everywhere”. This shows that blacks and whites were fighting side by side in the war. He later proposes a question to this when he says, “ When we see Victory’s glow, Will you still let old Jim Crow Hold me back?” which plays on the fact of different races fighting side by side. In this quote Hughes is pondering the idea that although both men of white and black color are fighting side by side in battle as equals, when they return will blacks still face the oppression and segregation employed by the Jim Crow Laws. The stanzas are also similar in other facets. In the poem, Hughes uses a common rhyme scheme particularly in the last line. Each stanza tends to begin with a rhyme in the first two to three lines than followed with another rhyme in the middle of the stanza. The unique part of Hughes rhyme scheme is that a line typically located within the middle of the stanza rhymes with the last line in the stanza. This style of rhyme almost brings a sense of closure and unity to each stanza that is a perceived theme in the entire poem and directly relates to the progressed closure from the end of the first stanza to the last stanza stated previously. Lastly, each stanza is very similar in that Hughes often asks a question that is open-ended and with no answer. In addition to the structure of the poem Hughes also implements a unique style. Langston Hughes was a Harlem Renaissance writer who is attributed with creating Jazz Poetry in which the poem is spoken or performed to jazz like arrangements of music. This poem follows this type of style because of its fluidness and rhythm. Hughes tends to keep all of his lines short consisting of 3-6 words which makes the poem an easier read for a writer to perform live and to the flow of music. The poem also contains questions in each stanza, which yields useful when performing lyrically. The performer can pause after each question, selecting the tempo and which he or she wants to go in relation to the feel and music. The questions also impact the audience of the poem. The use of questions allows for...
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