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Use Of Prosody In The Selected Poems Of Gwendolyn Brooks And Langston Hughes

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Poetry has a role in society, not only to serve as part of the aesthetics or of the arts. It also gives us a view of what the society is in the context of when it was written and what the author is trying to express through words. The words as a tool in poetry may seem ordinary when used in ordinary circumstance. Yet, these words can hold more emotion and thought, however brief it was presented.

What makes a good poetry? It is not only in the idea or thought of what the author is trying to express. What makes a good poetry beautiful is in how the writer makes use of the words, lines, and spaces and indents. The rhythm of the poem can make a significant impact in the expression of the idea. Even the structure of words can make a difference in interpreting what the poem wants to impart to its readers. The usage of commas, periods, and the spaces, can hold deeper meaning than when words are used.

What makes a good writer of poetry? It is through the intimate knowledge by the writer on the subject he/she wants to tell us. Even when the subject is a taboo or uninteresting in reality, the writer can make its readers suspend their objections and judgments, opening a room to rethink and explore on the subject.

Using two poet's works as comparison, we can see how prosody can be represented in the text. Using selected poems by these two writers, Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks, also helps us in determining how significant prosody in the completeness of the poems.

Born in 1902, Langston Hughes was raised mainly by his maternal grandmother, who was also a great influence in his life. Though he has also lived with each of his parents for irregular periods, he has also felt desolation and parental neglect which led him to turn to the comfort of the beauty of literature.

He has traveled abroad, working at variety of jobs. He went back to the United States in 1924, after working in Africa and living in Paris for several months. By the time he returned, he was already well known as a gifted poet in African literary circles. He has written a lot of books and poetry on his time and is known as one of the major writers in the literary movement called the Harlem Movement. He involved himself in radical politics, traveling abroad as a correspondent. And although he has been awarded in Senegal as a historic artist at the First World Festival of Negro Arts in 1966, back at home, he was rejected by the younger generation of black writers. And in that same year, he died.

Langston Hughes' "The Weary Blues" speaks of a weary man hearing blues being sung while walking along an avenue:

"I heard that Negro sing, that old piano moan--

"Ain't got nobody in all this world,

Ain't got nobody but ma self." (Hughes L8-20)

Blues is the musical form that was used in this poem but it also signifies the emotional state of the speaker in the poem. We can see that the term "the blues" relates not only in the state where the speaker was in but we cab find that the lyrics of the in the musical form called "the blues" relates to what the speaker was feeling right there and then. Since the speaker is walking down Lennox Avenue, it is implied already that the speaker is black since this area is populated and is a home for African Americans in this era.

Knowing the context of this poem can help us in understanding more about this poem. What contributed to the weariness expressed not only by the musician but also with the speaker are the economic and social conditions of their era. This was before the time of the American Civil Rights Movement, where racial discrimination is very rampant, and blacks are the receiving end of all the pain and humiliation, with less opportunities and sometimes none at all. The weariness that this poem is trying to express is brought out by the social situation that is encountered generally by the blacks:

"Got the Weary Blues

And can't be satisfied--

I ain't happy no mo'

And I wish that I had died." (25-30)

The rhyme and the repetition help created the sense of rhythm in this poem. The pattern made by the alliteration and assonance makes the poem so easy to remember and also easy imagine. In this way, it is possible to get the feeling of hearing the blues also which was described by the speaker in the poem. There is also an overall effect of becoming familiar and understanding how the blues echoed through the head of the speaker.

Gwendolyn Brooks is the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize. She has also received a lot of awards and fellowships throughout her life. Born in 1917, she started her writing career in poetry at an early age, publishing her first poem in 1930. 1967 was a turning point in her career as it was in this year that she attended the Fisk University Second Black Writers' Conference. In this conference, she has decided to involve herself in the Black Arts Movement. While awareness of social issues and elements of protest is found generally in all her works, some of her critics found in her work an angrier tone after joining the movement.

She has also written essays, reviews, and books. She is also a prolific poet, becoming extensive in writing poetry which moves from the traditional ones to even the unrestricted free verse. Her characters are mostly from the underclass of the black neighborhoods which shows the impact of city life to the people within. As one of the most visible poets in the United States, she is active not only in public readings and poetry workshops but she also participates in contests and classes that helps young people in the inner-city to be able to see poetry in their lives.

"We Real Cool" by Gwendolyn Brooks is a poem about young men who is in a pool room when they should be in a school, or possibly they are dropouts from school who see no future in themselves thus living by the moment and enjoying the pool. The speakers here are African Americans, based on the language that they used in the poem.

A lot of implications can be found in this very short poem of eight lines. The name of the of pool hall there these young men as the speakers in this poem congregate is specified as an epigraph of the poem. Seven not only specifies the number of these young men but it also signifies the number of luck, which is significant for them as pool players. The symbolism of the pool hall's name-"The Golden Shovel" is suggestive. "Golden" can imply the peak of their youth

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