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Poetry Analysis


The poem provided is about atwenty two year old student who is the only colored student in herclass as she talks of how she talks of how she walks across thestreets and finally come too where she sits down and writes the page.The persona talks of what she hears as she writes the poem. He talksof the things that he likesto eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.&nbspHe likes to work, read,learn, and understand life.&nbsp&nbspHe also likes a pipe for aChristmas present,or records.

The poem employs the use ofpoetic devices as well as literary elements to effectively convey themeaning of the poem. For instance in the first stanza of the poem,there is use of direct speech which clearly shows the exact wordsthat the instructor said. The instructor’s words depict a directiveby the writer’s instructor for the persona to write a page thatwould come out of her that night and then it would be true. It is notclear what would be true. The instructor said:

&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspGohome and write

&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspapage tonight.

&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspAndlet that page come out of you—

&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbsp&nbspThen,it will be true.

Justwithin the second stanza, the persona introduces the use of arhetoric question, “I wonder if it’s that simple?” This is aquestion that can cannot be answered based on the writer’s intentof knowing the simplicity of the page that the instructor wants herto write.

Inthe second stanza, the writer uses parenthesis as a literary devicein this poem. (I hear New York too) has been written in theparenthesis to give additional information that the persona alsohears New York just apart from the other places he hears.

Anothernotable aspect in the punctuation of the poem is the use of commas.For instance, the line “Iam twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem.&nbsp“commashave been used right after the words twenty two and colored toemphasize on the age of the persona and the color of his skin mostlikely to be black compared to the other people who are white. Thesame applies to other parts of the poem where the commas have beenused.

Part 2: Scansion and analysis

The poem’s meter is notapplicable here as it is written in free verse.

Thegeneral rhyme of the poem is regular due to the use of rhyming words.

Thepunctuation of the poem is relevant as per the meaning of the poem.Asper the capitalization, we notice that the first letter of eachstatement in every stanza is capitalized. This is done in order tobring the relevance of the statements and to distinguish them fromeach other in terms of the meaning that is passed. The writer hasused specific punctuation marks at specified points within the poemto enhance understanding of the stanzas in relation to the generaltheme of the poem.

The persona at his age stilldoesn’t know what is true for both him and the persona yet thepersona’s instructions are that he should write a page that is frominside him. From what the persona hears in Harlem, that is thesituation in Harlem, he tends to know what the instructor implies andexpects from him. Therefore he writes a page that impacts on thepersona and him as well.

Fromthe poem, it is clear that the instructor is white and the student isblack. The nature of their races makes the student to assure theinstructor that he can learn from him as well despite the differencein their races and despite how the instructor sometimes may not wantto be part of the writer due to their age difference they can stillbe free and learn from each other. The basis of this is to eliminatethe racial discrimination aspect that was there at that time.

In terms of what I discovered tobe the overall meaning of the poem, I think that the poem tries toimplicate the persona’s racism. The theme of the poem is that ofcriticism as the persona’s writing isalready conspicuous in the group of Negro intellectuals who aredignifying Harlem with a genuine art life and most of his writingdepicts the criticism by many black intellectuals for portraying whatthey thought to be an unattractive view of black life.&nbspAsection of the poem says: Iguess being colored doesn’t make me&nbspnot&nbsplikethe same things other folks like who are other races.&nbspSo will mypage be colored that I write?&nbsp&nbsp&nbspBeing me, it will notbe white. But it will be a part of you, instructor. Through this, thepersona assures the writer to whom the page is intended to that in asmuch as whatever he is going to write will not be colored, it will bewhat the instructor wants, a part of the instructor who is probablywhite.


LangstonHughes, “Theme for English B” from&nbspCollectedPoems.&nbspCopyright© 1994 by The

Estateof Langston Hughes. Reprinted with the permission of Harold OberAssociates Incorporated.