Langston Hughes


Langston Hughes, the historical poet of the Harlem Renaissance expresses his outlook of life through his poetry. The themes of his poetry range from sexuality to inner city power struggles. He uses his love of music to connect with the reader. The blues based sounds,popular at the time,are evident in his work. This is especially true in the poems Trumpet Player, Dream Boogie, and Listen Here Blues.

In Trumpet Player, Hughes describes the physical aspects of the trumpet player. He starts letting you picture the bags under his eyes, comparing them to “moons of weariness” then moves to his hair “tamed down/ Patent leathered now/ until it gleams.” He then uses his way with words to allow the reader’s mind to escape and hear the trumpet players music.As the reader reads more and more, they feel the music pouring through the crowd. The music is made visible as he describes the rhythm coming through the trumpet. He compares it to ecstasy distilled from old desire, describing the feel good sounds of the blues.

In the poem Dream Boogie, Langston opens the first stanza with a beat that makes the reader tap their feet while reading. While reading “The boogie-woogie rumble/of a dream deferred” the rhythm continues throughout as he begins to tell of a happy beat. Line after line, reading this out loud you can feel the tone of excitement from in my interpretation, a child getting excited telling their parent about the Harlem Renaissance. The child tells the parent in the poem to”listen to it closely”which can be interpreted as the child telling the parent to look at the changes being brought forward in that era of the Renaissance which he is happy about as he sings “ oop-pop-a-da!/Skee!/Daddle-de-de-do!/Be-bop!”

Listen Here Blues begins with Hughes addressing young girls, advising them to listen to him as he warns them of protecting their innocence. He warns living in the lifestyle of drinking and partying will lead to unhappiness and the loss of their purity. In the second stanza his continued reference of alcohol reiterates the importance of maintaining one’s innocence. He discusses how his own innocence is lost. He tells how he used to be a good child until alcohol consumed his life. Speaking in a depressed tone, often used in blues music, he uses the example of his hanging around “licker-headed fools” made him “everybody’s fool..” In the last stanza, Hughes attempts to warn good girls yet again to listen to him saying “ Don’t you fool wid no men ‘cause/ They’ll bring you misery” This form of misery, along with pain and struggle are common themes found in blues.

The theme of music is repeated throughout the many poems written by Langston Hughes. Its evident that he doesn’t limit his form of expression to poetry. He proves that music can be just as effective in telling stories and expressing emotions. Whether its referencing innocence or discussing cultural views music allows the reader to witness the authors point of view. Hughes is an intelligent poet. He uses real life experience to relate to the reader. Lngston Hughes is the peoples’ poet.

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