Cultural and Ethnic Studies: Harlem Renaissance Poets
Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen are examples of Harlem Renaissance’s poets that are very reputable. Among the poems of these poets that are highly recognized are Cullen’s “From the Dark Tower” and Hughes’ “As I Grew Older”. In these poems, the troubles that African Americans encountered in the community from about 1920s are demonstrated (Dworkin, 2011). Langston and Countee conveyed these ideas in two different ways. However, the basic messages were highly comparable. These poems indicate contentious perspectives regarding the problems that African Americans experienced while trying to achieve their dreams during Harlem Renaissance.
In the poem, “From the Dark Tower”, people are depicted as they struggle because according to Cullen, “we were not made eternally to weep” (Cullen, 2003, stanza 8). The aforementioned stanza indicates double-consciousness that establishes the fact that speaker is part of the group of African Americans while creating confidence that involves the reader and the speaker by indicating the beastly unfairness pain that is being faced by the speaker and that all are not helped in this struggle. In the poem “As I Grew Older” the speaker uses the pronoun “I” in a stanza like “I have almost forgotten my dreams” (Hughes, 2013, stanza 2). The speaker also indicates double-consciousness when he demonstrates that he belongs to a group of African Americans that is facing challenges (Shaduri, 2010). Nevertheless, contrary to “From the Dark Tower”, it indicates the troubles that individuals are facing to the readers and that these troubles are different from those the entire race faces.
Both poems are intuitive and captivating because they show the shared dissimilarities as well as how dissimilar and symbolic objects are applied in portraying similar information. Apart from showing the variation of viewing life from different perspectives whose basis is race, ‘From the Dark Tower” poem shows respect for age. As people go higher the tower, they view region from different viewpoints. The same also happens in the poem “As I Grew Older”, where people comprehend things about human existence in brighter light as they age. Both poems are also different because “From the Dark Tower” may be considered as the vital concepts’ advancing point that a poem is used to elaborate while “As I Grew Older” illustrates the perceptions of the struggles of the African Americans over the years.
The African Americans’ livelihood perspective started the poem, “From the Dark Tower” as indicated by “We shall not always plant while others reap” (Cullen, 2003, stanza 1). This started the slavery theme. An idea of how the African American years account is also indicated. Slaves came to the United States from Africa in order to pick cotton in Whites’ plantations. Even when they worked hard, all gains of the slaves were reaped by their lords. “As I Grew Older” carried the theory of progression because it starts with the affirmation that “I have almost forgotten my dream. But it was there then, In front of me, Bright like a sun— my dream. And then the wall rose, Rose slowly, slowly” (Hughes, 2013, stanza 2-8). A theory of how slaves began picking cotton without gains and therefore losing aspiration is followed by the poem, “As I Grew Older”. It was ultimately clear to the slaves that the lords of the white race hindered them from living their dream. As such, the slaves survived behind prejudice and abhorrence wall.
It is also possible for readers to grasp light and dark imagery in these poems. For instance, in the poem, “From the Dark Tower”, the speaker says, “And there are buds that cannot bloom at all In light, but crumple, piteous, and fall; So in the dark we hide the heart that bleeds” (Cullen, 2003, stanza 11-13). Readers can link this with “As I Grew Older” affirmation, “To smash this night, to break this shadow into a thousand lights of sun” (Hughes, 2013, stanza 25-27). These stanzas of both poems use light in denoting blissful dreams while darkness is used to denote lifeless shade that is above successfulness’ dream. The distress and hurting that is felt is concealed by this imagery. It also compels the readers to think about black men while reminding the speaker about how far they are from realizing their dreams.
The poems of both Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen have special equivalence because of the techniques employed by every speaker in order to express the ideas of maltreatment and cruelty that were encountered by the African Americans. Although the main ideas of these poems are not clearly intricate, they have a strong symbolic implication that is behind the used imagery and writing which coerces readers to keenly evaluate these poems directly in order to create a great essay (Shaduri, 2010). The recognized Harlem Renaissance themes are expressed in the poem that follows.
Obscure, chilly, night.
It is packed with fright.
I long to meet my kids and wife;
Go back to my earlier joyful life.
I fell greatly downcast.
We currently suffer at the west.
Our torture and pain we cannot describe.
I desire to return home,
And stop my sensation of being alone.
Cullen, C. (2003). From the Dark Tower. Retrieved February 25, 2014, from http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/from-the-dark-tower/
Dworkin, I. (2011). The Harlem Renaissance Revisited: Politics, Arts, and Letters (review). MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the US, 36(1), 222-224.
Hughes, L. (2013). As I Grew Older. Retrieved February 25, 2014, from http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/as-i-grew-older/
Shaduri, G. (2010). “Double Consciousness” and the Poetry of Langston Hughes On the example of The Weary Blues (1923). IBSU Scientific Journal, 4(1), 89-98.