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Comparison and Contrast of Two Poems Written by Langston Hughes - Research Paper Example

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This paper presents the comparison and contrast of two poems written by Langston Hughes. He establishes in his writings that his race is a central theme of his identity and does not believe that anyone who is black can exist in a world of truth without expressing their race in their art…
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Comparison and Contrast of Two Poems Written by Langston Hughes
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Download file to see previous pages Langston Hughes wrote meaningful poetry that speaks of the deep shadows that haunt American history. In a comparison of two poems by Langston Hughes race experiences in the South and in the United States are explored for themes of connection and disenfranchisement in the American experience. In “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” Hughes creates a discussion about origin and roots, placing himself in context with the flow of time and the nature of life. He discusses the great wonders that he and his ancestors raised, the concept of the river showing how time keeps flowing and that it connects all things to all people. The rivers that Hughes refers to in his poem are metaphors for a variety of different concepts. These include rivers of emotion, rivers of time, and possibly even rivers of human blood that is shed through oppressive belief systems and social constructions. It is the essence of connection that he chooses to focus this poem on as it relates how the rivers still exist just as he exists in a flow of generations through time. The rivers that are “ancient as the world and older than the flow/of human blood in human veins” can be a metaphor for the natural order of the world and how that is reflected in the actions of human beings. Human beings do terrible things to one another just as nature is a place of cruelty and death. Shuman writes about this second and third line that “It also connects all the people of the human race with the elemental sweep of natural forces”...
His work speaks of a natural order in which there is division and where oppression and dominance are a constant struggle. In a paper that he wrote about the idea of race and identity, he made it clear that the concept of race was tied to history, oppression, poverty, and the individual identity in a way that could not be separated from art. For Hughes, the disregard of the race was a desire to be white and to act as if the world was defined by white values. He writes “Whereas the better-class Negro would tell the artist what to do, the people at least let him alone when he does appear. And they are not ashamed of him--if they know he exists at all. And they accept what beauty is their own without question” (Hughes). What Hughes seems to mean is that in creating something that reflects a life that is outside of what he calls the ‘common people’, the artist denies what is essential to his own identity. Cobb writes that “For black writers, the imaginative expression of the African theme has had several dimensions. Among them have been the rejection of European cultural values and lament for a land that slavery has robbed blacks of” (44). In bitterness Hughes has written a poem that expresses his desire to be recognized for his culture as it is both connected and defined distinctly the white world. The poems that Hughes writes are steeped in the concept of his identity as it relates to the history of being black in the United States. He wrote during the first part of the 20th century when there was still strong belief systems in the idea of sub-human species and inferiority that divided the races into not just physical differences but species categories It would have been very difficult to see beyond his ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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