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“Let America be America again” is a poem by Langston Hughes which depicts all the distinct cultures and races in America and how it normally ends with the rich and powerful overpowering other races. The poem is a social commentary of the presence of blacks and minority races in America. It is connected to the historical enslavery and mistreatment of the minorities by the whites. It is articulated on the distinctions between the mythology of the American experience and dream and the true reality of the American experience. Langston references the experience of the ethnic minorities when there was more hope and real potential for equity. Hughes was one of the greatest contributors to Harlem Renaissance. He lived in an era where segregation was a reality before Martin Luther king initiated the civil rights movement. The idea behind an equal America for all races is just a fantasized delusion which was never brought about by the highest social class rather it was confounded in the spirits of the oppressed.” Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream/in the old world while still a serf of kings, /Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true, /That even yet its mighty daring sings (Hughes 9). In his statement he tries to imply that to this date it’s still a dream something that has not yet become a reality to the subaltern class. Throughout the poem, Hughes shows optimism that the people of America will rise against injustices and racism and remake America a great again. After a careful analyzation of the poem I now tend to believe that Langston Hughes poem “let America be America again” clearly demonstrates that for America to retain its glory for what it was it has to accept all the different people that live in it with resolutions of social justices and equity. This theme is communicated and expressed through the poet's use of literary devices such as personification, abstract languages, imagery and repetition.
In order to fully analyze Langston Hughes poem one must first identify clearly the format of the poem. Realization of the format assists in removing gender, face and voice for the speaker concerning their experiences during the enslavery and discrimination period. In the poem “let America be America Again” the poet Langston Hughes presented his notions and gave examples of his use of abstract language. Abstract language assists the poem to designate not only a literal meaning but also bring out a deeper meaning expressed by each reader since the word could have many different meanings. Langston used abstract language in many ways that not most poet would use. He uses “Negros” to refer how the other races used to call them. The African American perceived this an insult from their opinion since it indicated they were of no use to the American society and it's dream. “faith” and “pain” is a use of an abstract language which he used to indicate how they were feeling.” Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain”. Faith represented that they still had hopes of a better America, but they did not know what cost. Pain represented how the whites treated them. Racism, slavery and segregation were evident in that their rights were never respected (Arnold, and David 104). The use of abstract language in the word “leeches” is evident for a much deeper meaning where he uses animals to express his ideas. “from those who live like leeches on the people’s lives.” “Leeches” was used to demonstrate how the whites and politicians were sucking every good culture and keeping it to themselves. According to Shull and Jodie Langston inquired why they were no neutral grounds, and equal rights for the minority as well as the majority and all the races took part in building America (76). Hughes use of some abstract concepts in the poem makes it interesting. He uses the word “Liberty “which he argues has lost its original meaning and entirely signifies “false patriotic wreath”. The white people were driving out the American Indians from the lands that they rightfully owned. “let it be the pioneer on the plain” and “Let America be America again” are examples of connotations. America was considered a pioneer due to its government which many believed that catered for the rights of its citizens but the idea was initially unoriginal and was a deceit. As a reader our beliefs of global freedom tends to become challenged “there has never been equality for me/ or freedom in this homeland of the free (Hughes 4)”. The statement describes the antisocialism which reflected on those who were denied equal opportunities. With profound meaning from the poem Hughes consequently uses personification in his poetry to express vividly his idealism of making America great again.
By acknowledging the speakers use of personalization in his poem it shows the undesirable binaries based on the analytical model. We are able to see the unjust that were bestowed onto the minorities and certainly it invokes a feeling of sadness. He states of how he thinks the land and people should be. Hughes gives the poem a more profound and unique touch of how he uses personification in verse. Not only does he want the reader to see the literal sense but also the message in depth. In the poem, he is seen to animate America. He says “Let America be America Again”. He is viewed in his statement like he is speaking to the people that they should leave him be and let him be. Illustrations here can be seen that he is referring to the white people to avoid their social injustices and let the minorities be and have their freedom (Arnold, and David 61) In the poem its quite evident that he animates other things such as liberty.” O, let my land be a land where liberty is crowned with no false patriotic wealth” in this line of the poem he is assigning liberty the characteristics of a human, that can be patriotic and crowned. Liberty is not animate hence can it neither be patriotic nor crowned, but he tries to bring out a much deeper meaning for the reader to feel. Personification is also evident in the poem whereby he states “be the pioneer on the plain” and the dream with “its mighty daring sings”. The reason behind the poet use of this literacy element was to animate the America and the dream making it feel alive and show the reader as if it was dying.
Langston uses an amazing literary style whereby in the changing flow of the poem he tries to create a mental picture to the reader addressing them of how individuals from their race were secluded form equal opportunities and social justices. He assisted the reader in visualising how the minority and other poor people felt and what they went through. In the poem when he says “I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars”. In his statement, the reader pictures someone who was working under extreme hardships. The slaves didn’t even manage to afford a smile on their faces since they were going through pain and torture. In his imagery perception, he chooses the mental picture for the reader to show slaves who were working hard and getting whipped hence the scars on their back. The use of imagery can be depicted where he states “Black Africa’s strand”, “Ireland’s dark shore,” and “England’s grassy lea”. The mental picture Hughes tried to create for the reader was how people from different backgrounds and continents were willing to come together to build the nation. “Homeland of the free” creates a powerful mental image for the reader where Africans were forcefully torn away from their motherland. Gale and Cengage findings were that the slaveholders convinced their slaves forcefully into working for them in building a country living under the pretence of equality and freedom (106). Langston uses the element of imagery where he states that “I am the young man, full of strength and hope.” He explains in his statement that with the social injustices they still underwent he still had hopes of America he read about where everyone was equal. With such mental imageries, they drove him to write the truth and what people thought of America. With an open mind mental imagery that Langston created to us as his readers, we tend to believe that this poem is accurate since it was written by an individual who experienced the situations firsthand. Hughes structured the poem in such a manner he could emphasize his points clearly to his readers whereby each line by line correlated with other literary devices.
The use of structure in the poem to bring about the use of repetition was a piece of work which was eye-catching in the poem. The structure can be considered as the orientation of a piece of work in such a manner that the reader can comprehend some emphasis on specific ideas. “It was never America to me:” This is Hughes speaking about himself and how he experienced firsthand the lack of freedom and equality.by use of an organised structure of the poem he drills into the minds of his readers using repetition. Among the literary elements he uses is “Let America be America Again” he emphasizes on this statement to show his readers that the country is not quite what it used to be rather it was a home for slaves and inequality for “foreign people “and hence they needed a change. In various verses in the poem, Hughes commences with the word “I am”. In these stanzas, he assumes a role of certain people in the country. In assuming the role of a certain group, he uses it to show how the minorities are being abused in their own countries. He states that he thought his people would find America as the dream they were looking for as a country, but all his people Negros, poor Whiteman, and native Americans were segregated and abused.
“let America be America Again” is not a complex poem in comparison but its ideas are quite complex. Social injustices led to the creation of civil rights movement which was headed by Martin Luther King. With what Langston Hughes described as the greatness of America is when it can become true to its self again which required the process of redemption. The poem rose from obscurity in 1992 when a supreme court judge Marshall read it out at an American bar association meeting. And later on, it became John Kerry’s candidature theme. The essence of the poem wasn’t concerning the African Americans only rather the underclass people in general. Primarily my perspective would be the nation should be open to listening and responding to the oppressed and underrepresented groups. The organizer should consider making it a priority in hearing out and creating spaces for the voice of the most oppressed social strata since it's their right and freedom. As long as the protesters can be seen to act in good faith clearly, they should not be silenced. The poem by Langston Hughes motivates us to give rise to new global visions of social justices, equality for all and freedom. With America's inspiring history it is crystal clear to us that progress is not linear and is never permanent. With the encouraging history, it reminisces us that we must acquire strength and find within ourselves the perseverance and courage to fight for our liberal justices and ideals. Social inequity, crimes and injustices have become perception and truth of America, and us Americans have to redeem the old American pledge of making the country great again. By recreating America, we create the American dream that will give all citizens a life they were promised. The ending of the poem showed that Langston was quite optimistic for new dawn where America would be reborn whereby hard work and ambition were their drives to success. If inequality is a significant fuel to the fault lines of division as a nation, then our shared pursuit of dignity must help in bridging the gaps.
Gale, Cengage L. A Study Guide for Langston Hughes's ""let America Be America Again"". Farmington Hills: Gale, Cengage Learning, 2016. Internet resource.
Hughes, Langston, Antonio Frasconi, Antonio Frasconi, and Antonio Frasconi. Let America Be America Again. New York, N.Y: George Braziller, 2004. Print
Hughes, Langston, Arnold Rampersad, and David E. Roessel. Selected Letters of Langston Hughes., 2015. Print
Langston Hughes: Let America Be America Again: An International Symposium on the Art, Life & Legacy of Langston Hughes; Febrary 7-10, 2002. Lawrence, Kan: University of Kansas, 2001. Print.
Shull, Jodie A. Langston Hughes: "life Makes Poems". Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers, 2006. Print.
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