Harlem Renaissance Poetry Essay

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Poetry of the Harlem Renaissance Johann H. Glocke Poetry of the Harlem Renaissance The 1920s in America saw a movement of black labor from the Southern states to the Northern states in response to a labor shortage created by the demands of fighting World War I. The movement, however, brought with it more than just physical labor and bodies, it also delivered a culture to the North that was captured in what became known as the Harlem Renaissance. The Harlem Renaissance represented themes of individualism and escaping bonds, both literal and figurative, that was captured by devoted poets such as Langston Hughes and Claude McKay. Both of these prominent figures provided insight to the struggles of what Alain Locke would come to refer to…show more content…
Hughes not only submitted some of the most appreciated works of poetry and prose on the subject of the experiences of his people, but he was also acknowledged as one of the first black authors to fully support himself with his works through fellowships and literary awards that he had earned. Hughes was also important in the movement due to his promotion of black theatre, and his producing of anthologies of the works of Black American writers (Bloom, 1995, pp. 73–74). In Hughes’ poem “Life is Fine” we can see evidence of the “double-consciousness”, and his struggles with remaining an individual true to his race in the lines “I took the elevator Sixteen floors above the ground. I thought about my baby And thought I would jump down” (Hughes, 1949). Typically a high floor in a building would represent some kind of importance, and Hughes is lamenting the fact that he has climbed so high. His turmoil about his position is also shown in his recognition that he has not truly escaped the bonds that society puts on his people in the lines “Though you may hear me holler, And you may see me cry— I'll be dogged, sweet baby, If you gonna see me die. Life is fine! Fine as wine! Life is fine!” (Hughes, 1949). After reaching a high position in the elevator, Hughes is now talking of hollering and crying, and refusing to kill himself. He ends the poem with an ironic statement that “life is fine”, which he obviously did not feel was a truth for Black
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