Read The Dream Keeper and Other Poems by Langston Hughes Free Online
Book Title: The Dream Keeper and Other Poems|
The author of the book: Langston Hughes
Edition: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Date of issue: December 3rd 1996
ISBN 13: 9780679883470
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 866 KB
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Reader ratings: 5.4
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I finally managed to read some Langston Hughes. [insert my longest yeah boy ever here] Ever since I set the goal to seek out more diverse literature, Hughes has been on my radar. If you look up African-America poetry, he's the one to come up.
I thought it would be interesting to hear his thoughts, especially on race relations in the US, because he's from the older generation, being born in 1902, he was already in his 50s when shit hit the fan (which makes him 22 years older than James Baldwin, whom I usually consider the gramps). ;) How still,
How strangely still
The water is today,
It is not good
To be so still that way. Langston was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form called jazz poetry. Hughes is best known as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance in New York City. Like many African Americans, Hughes has complex ancestry. Both of Hughes' paternal great-grandmothers were enslaved African Americans and both of his paternal great-grandfathers were white slave owners in Kentucky. [I mean, just imagine growing up with that in mind.]
Some academics and biographers believe that Hughes was homosexual and included homosexual codes in many of his poems, as did Walt Whitman, whom Hughes said influenced his poetry. Hughes's story "Blessed Assurance" deals with a father's anger over his son's effeminacy and "queerness".
His poetry and fiction portrayed the lives of the working-class blacks in America, lives he portrayed as full of struggle, joy, laughter, and music. Permeating his work is pride in the African-American identity and its diverse culture. "My seeking has been to explain and illuminate the Negro condition in America and obliquely that of all human kind," Hughes is quoted as saying.
Hughes stressed a racial consciousness and cultural nationalism devoid of self-hate. His thought united people of African descent and Africa across the globe to encourage pride in their diverse black folk culture and black aesthetic.
From the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s, Hughes' popularity among the younger generation of black writers varied even as his reputation increased worldwide. With the gradual advancement toward racial integration, many black writers considered his writings of black pride and its corresponding subject matter out of date. They considered him a racial chauvinist.
Hughes wanted young black writers to be objective about their race, but not to scorn it or flee it. He understood the main points of the Black Power movement of the 1960s, but believed that some of the younger black writers who supported it were too angry in their work.
The Dream Keeper and Other Poems is a classic collection of poetry from 1932. It is targeted at younger readers which is why it displays a simplistic language, and why it's, in general, quite straight forward with its message.
Even though I enjoyed most of the poems, I felt quite disappointed by the collection as a whole. Going into this book, I thought that Langston's focus would be on social criticism and race relations.Sadly, that wasn't the case. Most poems read like mini-fairy tales or nursery rhymes, which I simply wasn't prepared for. My favorite poems were definitely the one in which Langston mused about the black experience – the struggles and joys of being black in the US. I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—
I, too, am America. Giving a voice to the hopes of black people of his day and age, I noticed another similarity between him and other black writers of his time: Hughes wrote 'the wall rose, rose slowly, slowly, between me and my dream'. Baldwin wrote about 'all the fears with which I had grown up, and which were now a part of me, rose up ike a wall between the world and me'. Wright mused about 'the sooty details of the scene rose, thrusting themselves between the world and me...'
It's fascinating how seperate from each other, they all chose this similar way of phrasing. It becomes very apparent how all of these writers felt pretty alienated from their society, how they felt like they were delibaretly being excluded, and how they were forced to process their articifical 'inferiority'.
My favorite poems is one of the last ones, which was actually not included in the original collection The Dream Keeper. It's a poem that actually made me cry because it is so gut-wrenching and raw: Where is the Jim Crow section
On this merry-go-round,
Mister, cause I want to ride?
Down South where I come from
White and colored
Can't sit side by side.
Down South on the train
There's a Jim Crow car.
On the bus we're put in the back—
But there ain't no back
To a merry-go-round!
Where's the horse
For a kid that's black? There's power and magic in Langston's work. He is definitely worthy of all the love and praise he gets.
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Read information about the authorLangston Hughes was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, short story writer, and columnist. He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form jazz poetry. Hughes is best known for his work during the Harlem Renaissance. He famously wrote about the period that "Harlem was in vogue."
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