The pioneering American poet, Langston Hughes

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The pioneering American poet, Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes is a renowned African American poet who wrote numerous poems mostly depicting the struggle that African American went through as well as glorifying their heritage.  His poem got great prominence and he is considered one the greatest poets in America and the world beyond. He is also considered to have provided American poetry a strong foundation. His work, just like the works of many other great poets in history received applause and criticism. The poem still receive the applause and criticism the way they did when they were still fresh, certainly an indication of the timeless nature of his work. He is considered a key figure in the literal work in the 1920s, a period which is popularly referred to as the “Harlem Renaissance.” The name came about because of the large number of African American writers in the literary world. Hughes was conspicuous in this group of Black intellectuals, very passionate, subjective, with great keenness and sensitivity towards beauty. His musical sense was indefatigable.  A review of Langston Hughes poems reveals a great poet whose writings were greatly influenced by the life and the prevailing social, political and economic condition as well as the developments in the literal word, “Harlem Renaissance.”

An understanding of the life of Langston Hughes can immensely contribute to the understanding of his works and of his wok, and contribution to the literally world. Hughes was born in 1902 in Joplin Missouri. He was born in a family that had a long history of fighting for the rights of the Blacks. He was a great-great grandson of Charles Henry Langston, the brother to John Mercer Langston who is remembered for being the first African American to be elected in 1855 into a public office (Leach  3). He was a member of a great abolitionist family. Hughes poems were mostly dedicated to his maternal grandmother Mary Langston, who lost her husband, a member if the John Brown Band, at Harpers Ferry. He second husband, the grandfather to Hughes was also a militant abolitionist. Hughes desolation resulting from parental neglect drove him to books which are likely to have inspired him to write (Leach 1). He began writing poems while in the eighth grade at Central School in Cleveland, Ohio. His first published poem became his greatest poem “The Negro Speak of Rives.” It was published in several magazines and other publications (Leach 15).

After leaving Columbia, Hughes spent the following the years working in a range of menial jobs. He travelled and labored on a freighter at the cost of West African, then spent several months in France before returning the U.S. in 1924 (Leach, 21).  Through his early life, Hughes poetry was influence by several writers and personalities. The strongest early influences came from Carl Sandburg and Walt Whitman and black poets such Claude McKay, and Paul Laurence Dunbar. McKay was a radical abolitionist who wrote amazing lyrical poems while Dunbar was accomplished at both standard verse and dialect. Hughes, however, state that Sandburg was his “guiding star,” for being influential in leading him towards adopting free verse alongside a radical and democratic modesty presentation of poetry.

His love the African American music is yet another aspect that influenced his literal career. The love for the music encourage him to develop a fusion between blues and Jazz , which were popular in the Harlem, with conventional verse  in his early books, The Weary Blues and Fine Clothes to the Jew  written in 1926 and 1927 respectively (Wulff, 4). The focus on lower-class, black life in these books, especially the latter, stirred harsh criticism from the black press.  It is this books that made him a force to reckon in Harlem Renaissance. Hughes supported the need for artistic independence and race pride. This was cleared argued in his essay, “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain” in 1926 which was perceived as a manifesto for the Harlem Renaissance movement.

In 1929 he graduated at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania while in the middle of one of the most defining relationship in his life with his patron or Godmother Mrs. Charlotte Mason, who supported him for two years starting in 1927 and supervised the writing of his first novel (Rampersad, 156). The novel, Not Without a Laughter published in 1930 present a story of a black, sensitive Midwestern boy and the struggles he encountered in life. Hughes relationship with his Godmother ended before the novel was published leading him to enormous personal disillusionment and unhappiness.  This was the beginning of Hughes turn to far left politics. He subsequently spent a year in the Soviet Union from where he wrote his most radical verse, latter while in California wrote a collection of short stories compiled in the book The Ways of the White Folks in 1934 (Rampersad, 289). The stories were filled with pessimistic ideas about racial relations and sardonic realism.

His travels between Europe and American frequently influenced his writing and at the onset and during the Second World War, he shifted to the center politically. He writing afterwards despite strongly attacking racial segregation had no leftist sympathies. Thus is the stance he maintained after the Second World War and during the civil rights movements period the followed the war.

Hughes activities in the Harlem were influence by his life experiences. For instance, he find his passion to write after lon.............


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