Poets of Harlem Renaissance
One poet once wrote that he lives in Harlem, New York, and He is unmarried and likes ‘Tristan,' goat’s milk, short novels, simple folk and bullfight. The name of that person was Langston Hughes, a writer of elegant and simple images; an observer of details and artist, who approached his work with warmth and well-mannered humor. More than anything else, he greeted the beauty of life; he loved his environment and his black American community, to which he belonged. In a career cut short by his death from cancer in 1967 he whore poetry, short stories, novels, plays and tried to document and memorize the black American life.
He was a key figure of the Harlem Renaissance, the 1920s-era of black arts and culture of New-York. People also called him the poet laureate of Harlem. The writer, who was one of the best people, who captured moods and passions of the culture that days.
The poem by this author I would like to mention in my essay is “Life is Fine." This poem is my favorite, because I really like the optimism of the speaker. He encourages us to see the positive sides of life. When he goes to the river and sits down to think he can’t concentrate, so he jumps into the water and sinks. After his surface, he cries out twice that if the water hadn’t been so chill he would have died: “But it was Cold in that water! It was cold!”.
The speaker takes the elevator to the sixteenth floor of his house, where he tries to think about his girl and considers jumping. But he decides not to, because it’s very high to leap off and die: “But it was High up there! It was high!”. He considers that he was born to live, not to die for love. He says to his lover that he wouldn’t forgive himself if she were to see him die. He concludes his actions with the phrase “Life if fine! Fine as wine! Life is fine!” This poem is not one of Hughes’s most known works, but it has many similarities to his other poems. Poem tells the story of a man with an elated spirit and the ability to stay optimistic facing the personal despair. It seems to me like a blues song.
When the speaker describes to commit suicide by drowning himself, he keeps returning to the surface. The icy water keeps his mind and body awakened, preventing him from his desire to die. In the next stanza, the speaker thinks that his inner disorder is caused by the romantic relationship gone gloomy. He takes the elevator up to sixteen floor and thinks how he is sad about his girlfriend. He considers to jump down, but realizes that it’s very high.
He uses the height of the building like the water’s temperature – as the reason not to commit suicide.
The tone of poem switches during the last lines. The speaker comes to thoughts that all his suicide attempts failed, and he might as well stay alive. He says that he could die for love, but he prefers to be born to live. By facing his death, the speaker has rediscovered his sense of purpose. He came to conclusion that he might never find complete peace, and he might stay useless and cry, but he won’t show his death to “baby”.
Hughes understands vulnerable and weak people who often considers giving up on life, but he thinks that they can never quite follow through – they still have something to live for. And by coming so close to his death, the speaker finds out a desire to live.
The other poet I would like to mention in my essay is Claude McKay. He was a poet and writer from Jamaica, who made his huge deposit into Harlem Renaissance He wrote three novels: Home to Harlem, Banjo, and Banana Bottom. He wrote a collection of short stories and several autobiographical books. His book of poetry, Harlem Shadows was one of the first books, which were published during the Harlem Renaissance. Claude McKay was born in Nairne Castle near James Hill, Clarendon, Jamaica, in 1889. Died at the age of 59 from a heart attack.
The poem that I’d like to analyze is “If we must Die” by this author. This poem is a very powerful pattern. The feeling that goes throughout the poem as a red line is the conflict between whites and blacks. Since the poems is dated by 1919. It correlates with the race riots that appeared at that time in several cities of the United States. These race riots were obviously white people who were attacking their black neighbors.
A lot of black people were murdered and lynched from city to city. This fact may be an example of support of the race riot theory like as “mad and hungry dogs” from the poem. This phrase is proved by history, which verifies that dogs were used to murder, attack and subdue blacks. It seems to me that the speaker asks to be killed in a kinder way, rather than being tormented and lynched terribly.
Using the phrase “If we must die” several times the speaker wants to show us that he is ready to die, but not in such terrible way. McKay understands that this battle for justice and freedom is very difficult, but he insists blacks to partake in the battle. He encourages and inspirits them to continue this search for equality. He asks blacks to let them show themselves brave.
Furthermore, he continues his inspirational task by the words “Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack." The poem, show us the author’s protest to all blacks. This poem declares that blacks shouldn’t settle with the mistreatments and cruelty caused by whites. The author tries to encourage all blacks to fight back. The title of this poem calls for action, which meaning is “if we die, we will do this with pride”.
“Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack, Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back”.
The poem you were asking me to write called “There is no Frustration”:
The sun is bright
And I’m not frustrated
The girl I ever need
Lies near on my jacket.
THE BIOGRAPHY OF LANGSTON HUGHES. (n.d.). Poemhunter.com. Retrieved June 8, 2014, from http://www.poemhunter.com/langston-hughes/biography/
Hughes, L. (n.d.). POEM: LIFE IS FINE BY LANGSTON HUGHES. Poemhunter.com. Retrieved June 8, 2014, from http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/life-is-fine
THE BIOGRAPHY OF CLAUDE MCKAY. (n.d.). Poemhunter.com. Retrieved June 9, 2014, from http://www.poemhunter.com/claude-mckay/biography/
McKay, C. (n.d.). POEM: IF WE MUST DIE BY CLAUDE MCKAY. Poemhunter.com. Retrieved June 9, 2014, from http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/if-we-must-die/
Claude McKay: Poems. (n.d.). Wikipedia. Retrieved September 10, 2014, from http://www.gradesaver.com/claude-mckay-poems/wikipedia/awards/