The poetry of Langston Hughes : the early years



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In his youth, Langston Hughes wrote poetry imitating popular Negro verse forms, but as he matured and found literary and social conventions too confining, he tried to develop a style uniquely suitable for the expression of those previously suppressed qualities of Negro culture. In his last works, he achieved freedom of poetic and social expression by combining the improvisational aspects of jazz music with the colorful imagery of ghetto speech. The first twenty-five years of his career best demonstate this search through experimental poetry for a stylistic syntheses and also illustrate his continuous struggle for personal freedom from critical opposition. His poetry achieves a true expression of the Negro experience in America by its emphasis upon ghetto life and its authentic representation in artistic terms while it deplores the absence of real freedom in political terms. The full measure of his artistic achievement is found in his reflection of the authenticities of African and American culture mixed in the aesthetic life of the Negro ghetto.