Poetry by Langston HughesHard Daddy, Midwinter Blues, Little Old Letter
Langston Hughes electrifies readers and launched a renaissance in black writing in America. The poems Hughes wrote celebrated the experience of black men and women, the poor, and the lovesick. Helping the African-American male gain praise in the poetic and musical world Hughes conveyed an experience that turned poetic lines into the phrases of lyrical blues. Leading the new century with greatness it can clearly be said that Langston Hughes was one of the great connoisseurs of American verse.
To first understand Langston Hughes blues you must first know what blues is and what the common meter is for blues. Blues is basically a line pertaining to a time or event followed by another line that has something to do with the first line. A repetition of the first two lines is then done to create emphasis. A last line or two that has a rhyme scheme that is similar to the first four lines within the stanza.
The meter usually contained within blues lyrics is iambic trochee. Iambic trochee is marked by an unstressed point followed by a stressed point proceeded by two unstressed points and ensuing that would be another stressed point. In the poem Hard Daddy it is clearly seen how Hughes used iambic trochee to perform his blues. I went to ma daddy, Says Daddy I have got the blues. If noticed in the first two lines of Hard Daddy the word went is a stress point while I is the unstressed point. To ma are two other unstressed points while Daddy is a stressed point. The first stanza is a common iambic trochee.
After knowing what blues is and how it is to be read the poems by Hughes can be broken down. In poem one, Hard Daddy, it is quite literal. The tone is sad, the speaker is upset about her man. The speakers father is not the loving kind. He turns his shoulder on the occasion of his daughter needing help. Angered, the speaker wishes she had wing to/ Fly like the eagle flies. / Id fly on ma man an/ Id scratch out both his eyes. Like the blues, this poem is quite literal. Hughes used the basic format of blues to convey a moment in time.
Poem two, Midwinter Blues, is about a woman left by a man. The quote, Left when the coal was low, can be interpreted as the speakers man left while times were hard and money was low. The speaker talks of love and how she will no longer love another. The tone is quite sad and depressing. It can clearly be seen that a great love was felt by the speaker for her man and now there is only great pain. As in the first poem, the diction within this poem is relevant to the time. Its common slang and shortening of words used by African-American people during the time in which these poems were written.
Poem three, Little Old Letter, does not follow the basic format of blues when looking at the lines. When looking closer it can be seen that it does follow the common iambic trochee that the lyrical blues format covers. This proves that Hughes knew what he was doing. Hughes knew about meter, knew about rhyme scheme and knew that the blues did not need to follow the line format that is most widespread in blues lyrics.
Within Little Old Letter the speaker talks of a letter. The reader is not acknowledged what is within the letter, but because of the tone the reader feels the letter is bad. But it made me wish/ I was in my grave and gone, this quote solidifies how bad the letter makes the speaker feel. The tone also has a feel of loneliness, I never felt so lonesome/Since I was born black. I turned it over, /Not a word writ on the back. This quote also shows the diction within this poem that displays the slang of the time, as seen in the first and second poems. This poem concludes with an acknowledgment that the letter has killed what was inside the speaker. With this it is seen that an ending dealing with pain or sorrow has concluded the lyric. This is also apparent in both past poems recently presented; it is a conclusion that is most common in blues lyrics.
Hughes knew blues was a quite literal form of poetry. It can clearly be seen through Hughes different forms of blues that he knew about meter and rhyme scheme. Due to the blues wrote by Hughes it is evident that he also knew what blues was about and how it was to be written. Hughes did not only follow the format, but it can certainly be seen that Hughes put his heart and soul into these poems that were especially literal in depicting situations that are most personal to people such as in Midwinter Blues and Little Old Letter. By doing this Hughes gives a perfect examples of lyrical verse. Hughes perfected the craft by not following the format but still making blues lyrics that followed the common pattern, this made him a master of the craft.