The Modernist Period in American Literature occupied the years shorty after the beginning of the twentieth century through 1965. The period was marked by unexpected breaks with traditional ways of viewing and interacting with the world. In the 1920’s, the Harlem Renaissance spread across the urban areas in the Northeast and Mideast. The African American cultural movement influenced many black writers, one of them being Langston Hughes. Hughes contributed a tremendous influence on black culture throughout the United States during the Harlem Renaissance . He is usually considered to be one the most prolific and most recognized black poets of the Harlem Renaissance. He broke barriers that very few black writers had done before during this period. Hughes was presented with a great opportunity with the rise of black art and by his creative style of poetry, which used black culture as its basis and still appealed to all ethnic groups.
Harlem became a symbol of pride and achievement, and also a place of opportunity and fantasy. Jazz, cabarets, and Prohibition-era speakeasies brought numerous whites to Harlem. During the Harlem Renaissance, numerous poems and publications sought to capture real and imagined life in Harlem. Artists and writers also turned to themes related to folk culture, religion, and the South in their works. Langston Hughes used with strong emotion to the things that influenced his life. He puts forth images of African Americans, jazz, and many other topics that have been a part of his life. These elements are what influenced him and shows it in the works he has written. He uses jazz and blues styles for subjects and for structure in pieces of his literature. In Hughes’ poetry, he would try to bring out the sound, cadence, and the rhythms from blues and jazz music. He would also use humor loneliness, and despair to imitate the sound of blues and jazz music with words. Hughes refused to differentiate between his personal experience and the common experience of black America. He wanted to tell stories of his people in ways that reflected their actual culture, including both their suffering and their love for music, laughter and language itself.
(Langston Hughes- The Weary Blues)
(Video of “The Impulse” being read)
The poem I chose for this assignment was “The Impulse” by Robert Frost. This poem is filled with beautiful imagery that conceals the pain and loneliness that exists in the character’s relationship. After reading this poem, I watched a video on Youtube of someone analyzing it(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f3nKHLWOGyo). According to MadHermit7, the poem focuses on the wife of a woodsman. As the poem begins, the wife finds a opportunity to have a carefree day to enjoy herself, but in the end, she ends up wondering too far and that results in her death. He states that in the poem, he sees one main lesson: happy and tragic moments in life can be spontaneous. He thinks Frost is saying live life to the fullest, because you’ll never know what’ll happen next.
Another view I got from this poem came from someone that commented on MadHermit7’s Youtube video. Hylohunter thinks differently. He thinks that the last line in the poem didn’t refer to the wife’s actual death, but referred to the idea that the woodsman and his wife are were separated. Thus, “Til death do us part” is no longer possible. He thinks the relationship between the man and woman will have to learn of finalities other than the grave.
The first time I read this poem, I really didn’t understand it, but after reading it about five times, I started to realize what was going on. I think the poem is about a woman who is always lonely because her husband (the woodsman) is always out working and never has time for her. One day while her husband was out working, she left. The husband looked and called for her, but she never returned. I think Robert Frost was was telling people don’t take things for granted. It’ll be here one day and gone the next.
After reading Upton Sinclair’s protest The Jungle, exposing the horrendous conditions of many meatpacking factories in the 20th century, many protest writers came to mind. One that I was very interested in was Marvin Gaye . Marvin Gaye was one of R&B’s most talented artists. In 1971, Marvin Gaye wrote one of his chart topping songs, “What’s Going On”. This song was a strong personal protest of the periods biggest controversy, the Vietnam War. This song was meant to tell the world his views against the Vietnam War and his belief that there had to better way than sending soldiers into battle to solve problems. “What’s Going On” gave Marvin Gaye the opportunity to tell the world how he felt about the war and how it should be solved.
(Marvin Gaye- What’s Going On)
His anti-war anthem was released to make a statement to raise social consciousness and make the deaths so many felt by his immense audience. In the song, he wants people to understand how many lives were being taken for a cause most didn’t believe in. In the chorus, Gaye writes giving protesters a chance to be heard, not punished. The line “picket lines and picket signs, don’t punish me with brutality” signifies the peaceful protest against the war and pleads to let them have their opinions without worry of being quieted or attacked. The song was written to tell the government the war was wrong and there had to be more peaceful ways to solve a problem.
“What’s Going On” is an extremely powerful song. Even today, it still still evokes intense emotions when heard. Each verse displays reason why fighting is not the answer to the conflict. While the chorus shows Gaye’s view of the wat being pure chaos, repeating, “What’s going on…what’s going on”. Marvin Gaye is able to make the listener understand the sense of fear and disarray the soldiers must have been feeling. These simple words were meant to trigger our humanity and make us question if the war really should have been happening. Gaye’s goal for writing the song was to let the United States hear what considered most of the country’s views in a peaceful manner and attempt to make the government know that war was not the answer. Through his music and lyrics. Marvin Gaye made very powerful, yet peaceful political stand.