Poetry of Langston Hughes

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Read this line from "Harlem."

Or does it explode?

Read this line from "The Weary Blues."

Thump, thump, thump, went his foot on the floor.

What sense do both of these lines rely on?

the sense of hearing

Read the excerpt from "The Weary Blues."

Ain’t got nobody in all this world,
Ain’t got nobody but ma self.
I’s gwine to quit ma frownin’
And put ma troubles on the shelf.

What is the effect of repeating the phrase "ain’t got nobody" in the poem?

It emphasizes the theme of sorrow and melancholy in the poem.

What is one difference in the themes of "Harlem" and "The Weary Blues"?

"Harlem" conveys resentment, while "The Weary Blues" shows expression.

Which lines from "The Weary Blues" suggest that the speaker is impressed by the musician?

With his ebony hands on each ivory key He made that poor piano moan with melody.

Read the excerpt from "The Weary Blues."

He made that poor piano moan with melody.
O Blues!
Swaying to and fro on his rickety stool
He played that sad raggy tune like a musical fool.
Sweet Blues!
Coming from a black man’s soul.
O Blues!

The phrases "O Blues!" and "Sweet Blues!" are examples of


Read the descriptions of rhyme schemes below.

Free verse: poetry that uses irregular meter and/or rhyme scheme
Iambic pentameter: a poetic rhyme scheme in which each rhyming line has ten syllables
Blank verse: poetry that uses unrhymed iambic pentameter
Acrostic: A poem in which the first letter of each line spells out a word when read vertically.

Based on the descriptions, what rhyme scheme does the poem "Harlem" use?

free verse

What effect does Hughes achieve by repeating the phrase "does it" in "Harlem"?

Short words and hard consonants create a sense of angry uncertainty.

Read the excerpt from "Harlem."

Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over-
like a syrupy sweet?

Read the excerpt from "The Weary Blues."

Droning a drowsy syncopated tune
Rocking back and forth to a mellow croon

In both poems, Hughes uses the imagery to

establish tone.

The speaker’s role in "Harlem" is to

criticize oppression.

Read the poem "If We Must Die" by Claude McKay.

If we must die—let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursed lot.
If we must die—oh, let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!

Oh, Kinsmen! We must meet the common foe;
Though far outnumbered, let us still be brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one death-blow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but—fighting back!

Which best describes the speaker in this poem?

a motivator who encourages readers to fight oppression

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