Of the major black authors who foremost made their visual aspect during the exciting period of the 1920s normally referred to as “the Harlem Renaissance. ” Langston Hughes was the most fecund and the most successful. As the Harlem Renaissance gave manner to the Depression. Hughes determined to prolong his calling as a poet by conveying his poesy to the people. At the suggestion of Mary McLeod Bethune. he launched his calling as a public talker by shiping on an extended talk circuit of the South.
As he wrote in his autobiography: “Propelled by the slipstream of the “Harlem Renaissance” of the early mid-twentiess. I had been floating along cheerily on the delicious wagess of my verse forms which seemed to delight the illusion of kind-hearted New York ladies with money to assist immature authors. . . . There was one other dilemma–how to do a life from the sort of composing I wanted to make. . . . I wanted to compose earnestly and every bit good as I knew how about the Negro people. and do that sort of composing gain me a livin” ( Hughes. 1964:31 ) .
Alain Locke. the taking advocate of “The New Negro. ” announced that the black multitudes had found their voice: “A true people’s poet has their balladry in his venas ; and to me many of these verse forms seem based on beat every bit seasoned as folk songs and on tempers every bit deep-rooted as folk-ballads. Dunbar is supposed to hold expressed the peasant bosom of the people. But Dunbar was the showman of the Negro multitudes ; here is their spokesman ( Killens ed.
1960:41 ) . Though much of the poesy Hughes was to compose in the mid-thirtiess and afterward was to differ markedly in footings of societal content from the poesy he was bring forthing in the mid-twentiess. a careful scrutiny of his early work will uncover. in originative signifier. the basic subjects which were to preoccupy him throughout his calling. Hughes’s development as a poet can non be seen apart from the fortunes of his life which thrust him into the function of poet.
Indeed. it was Hughes’s consciousness of what he personally regarded as a instead alone childhood which determined him in his thrust to express. through poesy. the feelings of the black multitudes and their inquiries of individuality. In “The Weary Blues” . Hughes presented the job of double consciousness rather smartly by puting two parenthetical statements of individuality as the gap and shutting verse forms. and titling them “Proem” and “Epilogue. ” Their gap lines suggest the mutual oppositions of consciousness between which the poet located his ain character: “I Am a Negro” and “I. Too. Sing America.
” Within each of these verse forms. Hughes suggests the interrelation of the two individualities: the line “I am a Negro” is echoed as “I am the darker brother” in the shutting verse form. Between the American and the Negro. a 3rd individuality is suggested: that of the poet or “singer. ” It is this latter character which Hughes had assumed for himself in his effort to decide the quandary of divided consciousness. Therefore. within the confines of these two verse forms go arounding around individuality. Hughes is showing his poesy as a sort of redemption.
If one looks more closely at Hughes’s organisation of verse forms in the book. one finds that his true gap and shutting verse forms are concerned non with individuality but with forms of cyclical clip. “The Aweary Blues” ( the first verse form ) is about a black piano adult male who plays deep into the dark until at last he falls into slumber “like a stone or a adult male that’s dead. ” The last verse form. on the other manus. suggests a metempsychosis. an waking up. after the long dark of weary blues: “We have tomorrow/ Bright before us/Like a flame” ( Hughes 1926:109 ) .
Hughes viewed the poet’s function as one of duty: the poet must endeavor to keep his objectiveness and artistic distance. while at the same clip talking with passion through the medium he has selected for himself. In a address given before the American Society of African Culture in 1960. Hughes urged his fellow black authors to cultivate objectiveness in covering with inkiness: “Advice to Negro authors: Step outside yourself. so look back – and you will see how human. yet how beautiful and black you are.
How really black – even when you’re integrated” ( Killens ed. 1960:44 ) . In another portion of the address. Hughes stressed art over race: “In the great sense of the word. anytime. any topographic point. good art transcends land. race. or nationality. and colour drops off. If you are a good author. in the terminal neither inkiness nor whiteness makes a difference to readers” ( Killens ed. 1960:47 ) .
This doctrine of artistic distance was built-in to Hughes’s statement in the much earlier essay “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain. ” which became a beat uping call to immature black authors of the mid-twentiess concerned with accommodating artistic freedom with racial look: “It is the responsibility of the younger Negro creative person if he accepts any responsibilities at all from foreigners. to alter through the force of his art that old whispering ‘I want to be white’ hidden in the aspirations of his people. to ‘Why should I desire to be white? I am a Negro – and beautiful!
’” In this greatly thought-out pronunciamento. Hughes attempted to incorporate the two aspects of dual consciousness ( the American and the Negro ) into a individual vision-that of the poet. His poesy had reflected this thought from the beginning. when he published “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” at the age of 19. Arna Bontemps. in a retrospective glimpse at the Harlem Renaissance from the distance of about 50 old ages. was mentioning to “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” when he commented: “And about the first vocalization of the revival struck a note that disturbed poetic tradition.
” ( Addison ed. 1988:83 ) . In Hughes’s poesy. the cardinal component of importance is the avowal of inkiness. Everything that distinguished Hughes’s poesy from the white poets of the mid-twentiess revolved around this of import avowal. Musical parlances. wind beat. Hughes’s particular trade name of “black-white” sarcasm. and dialect were all dependant on the precedence of black selfhood: “I am a Negro/Black as the dark is black/Black like the deepnesss of my Africa” ( Hughes 1926:108 ) . Hughes wrote in his autobiography: “My best verse forms were all written when I felt the worst.
When I was happy. I didn’t write anything” ( Hughes 1991:54 ) . When he foremost began composing poesy. he felt his wordss were excessively personal to uncover to others: “Poems came to me now spontaneously. from somewhere indoors. . . . I put the verse forms down rapidly on anything I had a manus when they came into my caput. and subsequently I copied them into a notebook. But I began to be afraid to demo my verse forms to anybody. because they had become really serious and really much a portion of me. And I was afraid other people might non wish them or understand them” ( Hughes: 34 ) .
These two statements sing his poesy suggest deep implicit in emotional tensenesss as being the beginning of his creativeness. And yet the personal component in Hughes’s poesy is about wholly submerged beneath the character of the “Negro Poet Laureate. ” If. as Hughes suggested. personal sadness was the basis of his best work. it so follows that. in order to keep the straightforwardness of intent and devotedness to his art. he would be required to give some grade of emotional stableness.
The character of the poet was the function Hughes adopted in his really foremost published verse form. as the Negro in “The Negro Speaks of Rivers. ” It was a character to which he would stay faithful throughout his drawn-out calling. The nexus between his personal experiences and his poesy has been ever apparent.
Mentions Addison Gayle. Jr. . erectile dysfunction. ( 1988 ) . “Negro Poets. Then and Now. ” in Black Expression: Essaies by and About Black Americans in the Creative Humanistic disciplines. New York: Weybright & A ; Talley
Langston Hughes ( 1964 ) . I Wonder As I Wander. New York: Hill & A ; Wang Langston Hughes ( 1926 ) . The Aweary Blues. New York: Alfred A. Knopf Publishing. reprinted. 1982 Langston Hughes ( 1991 ) . The Big Sea: An Autobiography. 1940. New York: Hill & A ; Wang Killens. John O. . erectile dysfunction. ( 1960 ) . “Writers: Black and White” . The American Negro Writer and His Rootss: Selected Documents from the First Conference of Negro Writers. March. New York: American Society of African Culture