Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Final Note on Hughes

In rereading Hughes, I particularly enjoyed the reflective pieces such as "Dream Deferred" and "Theme for English B." Besides being incredibly well crafted, his poetry signals an important theme in the development of a unique poetic voice that is distinctly African American. It intrigued me that Hughes develops a voice that is both distinctly stylized and yet rich in emotional and intellectual content – particularly evident in these two poems.

In comparison to some of the other writers who were also writing during this time, these very modern themes of isolation, the divided self, and alienation surface quite clearly in his work. I couldn't help but associate the construction of an American identity with these themes in the way that they permeate Hughes' writing. Unlike with Pound and Eliot, these themes seem to be a bit more prevalent in his work. Yet, there is also an eclectic distancing that I find really interesting in his work. I’m not sure if I would call it sardonic (?), but there’s something a bit closed to the reception of judgment. Just thought it was interesting.

I was curious if anyone had any thoughts about the essay Hughes wrote in Poetics. For some reason, it read more like more of an oratory speech to me than an essay, maybe because there are so many strident political themes Hughes tries to condense into his work. For example, he touches on issues of identity and the construction of the artistic Self and how they can potentially conflict in an unassuming fashion when the lack of a conscious identity is absent.

1 comment:

rodney k said...

Really liked your ideas for connecting Hughes to some of the pet obsessions of our other Modernists. Re: the tone of his essay, interesting question. I wonder if its particular feel comes from his assurance about the audience he's addressing. He KNOWS these people from the inside out, they're his readers and colleagues and classmates and party dates and fellow poets. Maybe it's that rare intimacy that inflects the tone? Just speculating--didn't want your v. intruiging post to go out in the air unanswered. Any other thoughts?