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Let America Be America Poem By Langston Hughes

The poem “Let America Be America” was written by Langston Hughes around July of 1936 when the country was facing severe social issues. Langston’s poem became a favorite years after it was written, and the title was later used by a presidential candidate in the year 2004 as a campaign slogan. His lyrics contained pure language, considering the audience he was targeting (Langston 3). Hughes was like a human activist whose main work and poems were about oppression by the powerful in society. In his poetry, Langston’s primary concern was how the poor, the orphans, and the African Americans were treated in society. According to him, the America that existed by then was not America. In his own words, Langston says that America is never America. Hughes’s primary concern was the treatment of African Americans, in addition to other social matters.

Langston’s poems depicted the prescient depiction of the state’s racial turbulence. For that reason, he wrote his work in simple English, which allowed both the whites and the blacks who would not understand complicated words to get his words. His poems came in a period when most poems were written in a discriminatory manner, and the wording was so complicated that only a particular group in the society could understand (Langston 5). These other poems also depicted racism, with most of them supporting the act. He stood up amongst many and spread the gospel about what he felt was right for America, which he believed in throughout his whole life. His poem is full of emotions with references to incidents of oppression in his life and the lives of his fellow friends. He wrote the poem at a time when the economy was not that stable, considering that the country had just attained independence. Political temperatures in the country were very high since politicians had different opinions considering the state of racism in the country. The author feels the Royals were more oppressive to the poor and the African-Americans. He feels for the inability in society.

Allen Ginsberg is another renowned poet in the history of the United States. He was one of the leading figures in the “Beatniks” after World War II around the 1950s. In his poetry “America,” his primary concern is the state of the nation after the World War, which ended with America coming out as the superpower (Allen 219). His work was very different from Hughes’s work, considering the social issues surrounding the United States at the time he was writing. The major social problem he addresses in his work is political theories with antipathy towards democracy. Being a person of Russian origin, he views America as a socialistic society based on Russian Communism. He talks about the social issues affecting the United States after World War II.

Allen talks of Americans’ capitalistic dreams and socialistic dreams led by Karl Marx. The two ideas create tension within the government. He sheds light on the atomic bombs and nuclear testing, which, to him, he considers evil, and he goes ahead and asks America when the war on weapons will end. He regards wars as something claiming the lives of the innocent in the community and states how war negatively affects the community. The poem was written when America was politically divested, and the economy had seriously rumbled due to the just-ended world war. The war consumed much of the economic resources, and suffering was at its top citizens (Allen 219). He feels the country should never engage in any other battle, considering the social issues brought about by the world war. Both these poets address the social problems affecting the political and economic state of the country. They both condemn the social injustice done to society because of the decision of the few powerful in the community.

Work Cited

Hughes, Langston, Langston Hughes, and L. G. Damas. “Let America Be America Again.” Présence Africaine 59 (1966): Pp 3-5.

Ginsberg, Allen. “Other Poems.” Twentieth-Century American Poetry (2008): Pp 219.



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