Use of Prosody in the Selected Poems of Gwendolyn Brooks and Langston Hughes

Topics: Poetry, African American, Gwendolyn Brooks Pages: 5 (1910 words) Published: August 13, 2007
Poetry has a role in society, not only to serve as part of the aesthetics or of the arts. It also gives us a view of what the society is in the context of when it was written and what the author is trying to express through words. The words as a tool in poetry may seem ordinary when used in ordinary circumstance. Yet, these words can hold more emotion and thought, however brief it was presented. What makes a good poetry? It is not only in the idea or thought of what the author is trying to express. What makes a good poetry beautiful is in how the writer makes use of the words, lines, and spaces and indents. The rhythm of the poem can make a significant impact in the expression of the idea. Even the structure of words can make a difference in interpreting what the poem wants to impart to its readers. The usage of commas, periods, and the spaces, can hold deeper meaning than when words are used. What makes a good writer of poetry? It is through the intimate knowledge by the writer on the subject he/she wants to tell us. Even when the subject is a taboo or uninteresting in reality, the writer can make its readers suspend their objections and judgments, opening a room to rethink and explore on the subject. Using two poet's works as comparison, we can see how prosody can be represented in the text. Using selected poems by these two writers, Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks, also helps us in determining how significant prosody in the completeness of the poems. Born in 1902, Langston Hughes was raised mainly by his maternal grandmother, who was also a great influence in his life. Though he has also lived with each of his parents for irregular periods, he has also felt desolation and parental neglect which led him to turn to the comfort of the beauty of literature.

He has traveled abroad, working at variety of jobs. He went back to the United States in 1924, after working in Africa and living in Paris for several months. By the time he returned, he was already well known as a gifted poet in African literary circles. He has written a lot of books and poetry on his time and is known as one of the major writers in the literary movement called the Harlem Movement. He involved himself in radical politics, traveling abroad as a correspondent. And although he has been awarded in Senegal as a historic artist at the First World Festival of Negro Arts in 1966, back at home, he was rejected by the younger generation of black writers. And in that same year, he died. Langston Hughes' "The Weary Blues" speaks of a weary man hearing blues being sung while walking along an avenue: "I heard that Negro sing, that old piano moan—

"Ain't got nobody in all this world,
Ain't got nobody but ma self." (Hughes L8-20)
Blues is the musical form that was used in this poem but it also signifies the emotional state of the speaker in the poem. We can see that the term "the blues" relates not only in the state where the speaker was in but we cab find that the lyrics of the in the musical form called "the blues" relates to what the speaker was feeling right there and then. Since the speaker is walking down Lennox Avenue, it is implied already that the speaker is black since this area is populated and is a home for African Americans in this era. Knowing the context of this poem can help us in understanding more about this poem. What contributed to the weariness expressed not only by the musician but also with the speaker are the economic and social conditions of their era. This was before the time of the American Civil Rights Movement, where racial discrimination is very rampant, and blacks are the receiving end of all the pain and humiliation, with less opportunities and sometimes none at all. The weariness that this poem is trying to express is brought out by the social situation that is encountered generally by the blacks: "Got the Weary Blues

And can't be satisfied—
I ain't happy no mo'
And I wish that I...

References: Cape, Steve. A Conversation with Gwendolyn Brooks. February 1979. The Artful Dodge. 11
August 2007.
Dr. Prinsky, Norman. College Composition II. Course Home Page. Summer Session. English
and Humanities. Augusta State University. 11 August 2007.
Mootry, Maria and Smith, Gary. Ed. "Gwendolyn the Terrible: Propositions on Eleven Poems."
A Life Distilled: Gwendolyn Brooks, Her Poetry and Fiction. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Poetry Criticism: Poetry and Politics. 26 October 2000.
11 August 2007.
Smith, Gary. "Brooks 's 'We Real Cool. '" Explicator 43.2 (Winter 1985): 49-50.
Tracy, Steven C. Langston Hughes and the Blues. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988.
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