Langston Hughes Poetry Essay

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Langston Hughes lived between the years 1902-1967 and was a prominent figure of the Harlem Renaissance and among the early innovators of jazz poetry. The essay will analyze and discuss three of Hughes poems and seek to identify if the poems focused on either the uniqueness of African Americans and their life experiences or the common bonds of humanity between African Americans and other members of other races. The poems discussed will be; ‘Night Funeral in Harlem,’ ‘Let America Be America Again’ and ‘I Too.

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'(Academy of American Poets)

Night Funeral in Harlem

The poem is about the burial of a young boy attended by only his friends, his girlfriend, and an old preacher man. The narrator of the poem is an observer of the funeral who ponders on some things such as where did they get the two fine cars and a layered satin coffin to bury the young boy as he notes the boy to be poor. Finally, the narrator concludes that at the end of life, only a few people mattered in the life of the boy as shown in, ‘That boy that they was mournin’ Was so dear, so dear To them folks that brought the flowers, To that girl who paid the preacher man.’ The mood in the poem is sad as it revolves around the loss of young life and a life of crime. The setting is probably in the 1930s where there was the incident of a young boy killed by the police because he was supposedly caught stealing. The poem’s focus is on the experiences of the African American in Harlem at a time where poverty levels had increased so much, and the black community was favoring communism.

Let America Be America Again

The poem is about the different people that went to America in the hope for better lives, but they ended up not acquiring what they had hoped. Therefore, making the mood of the poem to be somber, ‘For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore, And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea, And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came To build a “”homeland of the free.””‘ They never got that freedom as depicted in paragraph eight. The author uses different characters within the poem like an African American, the poor white, the Red Indian and immigrants from Europe. The evidence is in the sentences, “”I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart, I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars, And torn from Black Africa’s strand. I am the red man driven from the land, and I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek.””

The narrator seems to be the collective voice of all these identified people as they all seek the same thing, for America to be a great strong land of love where kings nor tyrants scheme to use their power over people identified in stanza two. The possible setting of the poem would be in the early 19th century shown by the end of slavery, ‘I am the negro bearing slavery’s scars’ and immigration of people from Europe, ‘For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore, And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea (Academy of American Poets). The poem clearly emphasizes the common bond of all races in lack of liberty yet they are in the free country.

I Too

The poem is about the transformation of the African American from being despised to being recognized and respected, and the assertion that an African American is an American thus deserves the same respect given to all other people regarded to be Americans. The author is an African American who accepts the fact that they call America their home, ‘I, too, sing America.’ The setting of the poem is during the age of slavery as identified in the use of present tense by the narrator when describing their current status; ‘They send me to eat in the kitchen When company comes, But I laugh And eat well, And grow strong.’ The rhythm of the poem is normal paced not fast nor slow while the mood is optimistic as depicted in the second paragraph, ‘Tomorrow, I’ll be at the table When company comes. Nobody’ll dare Say to me, “”Eat in the kitchen,”” Then.’ and in the third paragraph, ‘Besides, They’ll see how beautiful I am And be ashamed- I, too, am America'(Academy of American Poets). The poem focuses on the experiences of African Americans and their hidden beauty that once revealed those that despised them would be ashamed.


The three poems by Langston Hughes portrays the several experiences faced by African Americans and every individual who identified themselves as Americans. He shows the injustices suffered by the Red Indians who got evicted from their lands, the people from Africa brought to America as slaves and the immigrants from Ireland, Poland, and England who sought to escape tyrannies and find economic liberty, abut instead they got into poverty. He also clearly identifies that it is possible for America to be viewed as it first was, a country with freedom.”

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Langston Hughes Poetry Essay. (2021, May 24). Retrieved from