Poets And Poetry

Poetry Analysis Daybreak in Alabama by Langston Hughes



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Reading "Daybreak in Alabama," the average American reader may get a complete sense of the phenomena of the literary legacy of Langston Hughes.  The poem by Langston Hughes stands out as an expression of a world of what could be more than it serves as a literary depiction of what actually and literally occurs at daybreak in any part of Alabama.  Even a lover of poetry, in particular a lover of Black poetry written by the likes of Dunbar, McKay and Toomer, can appreciate the Black literature icon of Langston Hughes writing out a poem like "Daybreak in Alabama."

"Daybreak in Alabama" is written in a classic style of the late Langston Hughes.  He incorporated the realities of what is contained in both daybreaks and Alabama; dew, red clay, dawn, and even "swamp mist" rising from the ground.  Hughes used his own dialectic style to enhance the flavor of his poem with a down home feel that also appears in Hughes' quintessential literary character Jess B. Semple (Jess B. Simple).  The dialectic style was also utilized by Black poets like Claude McKay and Paul Laurence Dunbar.  Hughes infused such a style with elements of social commentary on racial harmony and collective existence. 

Hughes filled the poem with the very confusion of the racial challenges of his own times.  Published in 1940, the poem reveals the agonizing age of Jim Crow, the Great Depression and American dreams.  The Black poet within Langston Hughes does not seem to speak out in "daybreak in Alabama" as much as the humanitarian and artist within Langston Hughes.  Langston Hughes the humanitarian speaks of the possible day when even an Alabama daybreak would be filled with a rainbow of collective cooperation.  His humanitarian views pour out in references to red clay hands, brown arms, colored faces and white black people. 

The artist within Langston Hughes comes alive in the picture that Hughes painted for the reader.  He penned a work of art that appears to emerge like brushstrokes of genius on the blank slate of open minds to a new generation of American readers.  The Black poet Langston Hughes demonstrated the literary skills to craft a poem that meshed both the humanitarian and the artist with his own style, voice and tone.  Hughes' literary works show that he could not only fill his poems and stories with the racial tensions of his own upbringing, but also add in some aspects of euphoric aspirations for both Alabama and America.

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