Trans4mind Home Page
~ Making the Human Heart Visible ~

Looking for a better life?

Our online, interactive video workshops present the most effective methods of personal development, combined with personal support from expert life coaches.

Explore Article Library

The Romantic Spirit of the Harlem Renaissance: Langston Hughes

By Mary Arnold

Langston Hughes (1902"1967) was a true Renaissance man, being a poet, novelist, essayist, playwright, autobiographer, and writer of children's books (Rampersad 368). He was born in Joplin, Missouri, and spent most of his childhood in Lawrence, Kansas, but also lived in Illinois, Ohio, and Mexico (Rampersad 368). Hughes' earliest influence was his maternal grandmother, Mary Langston, who intrigued the young Hughes with stories of her first husband who died at Harper's Ferry and her second husband, Hughes' grandfather, who was also a "militant abolitionist" (Rampersad 368). His literary influences include Walt Whitman, Carl Sandburg, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and Claude McKay (Rampersad 368). From his familial and literary influences, Hughes derived a love for personal expression, free verse, black dialect, and racial pride.

Hughes' first two volumes of poetry, The Weary Blues (1926) and Fine Clothes to the Jew (1927) exhibit Hughes' experimentation with fusing "jazz and blues with traditional verse" (Rampersad 369). While these volumes were "received reasonably well by the white press," the black community generally condemned the poems as presenting "racial defects before the public" (Taylor 93). But Hughes was not one to let his peers' critical judgment hinder his artistic freedom. In his 1926 essay, "The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain," Hughes attempts to prove that one can exhibit racial pride and still maintain artistic integrity:

We younger Negro artists who create now intend to express our dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, it doesn't matter. We know that we are beautiful. And ugly too. The tom-tom cries and the tom-tom laughs. If colored people are pleased we are glad. If they are not their displeasure doesn't matter either. We build our temples for tomorrow, as strong as we know how, and we stand on top of the mountain, free within ourselves. (Wintz 153)

Like Claude McKay before him, Hughes rejects the view that African Americans must accept the middle-class values of the dominant society to become unfettered by societal boundaries. Hughes looks at the streets of Harlem, not with the eye of middle class society, but with the eye of the poet. Thus, he does not focus on the poverty and crime-stricken atmosphere that is shameful to the black intelligentsia. Hughes sees beauty all around him: in the music, the speech patterns, the dances, the nightclubs, and the platonic friendships and sexual relationships that exist in Harlem. And he glories in it. Hughes sees nothing to be ashamed of in personal feelings of love, sex, and desire (like Walt Whitman). While Hughes' later poetry took on aspects of political and racial protest, his earliest poems place him undeniably in the Romantic tradition.


Rampersad, Arnold. "Langston Hughes." The Oxford Companion to African American Literature. Eds. William L. Andrews, Frances Smith Foster, and Trudier Harris. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997. 368-70.

Wintz, Cary D. Black Culture and the Harlem Renaissance. Houston: Rice University Press, 1988.

About The Author

Mary Arnold holds a B.A. in literature and history. She is an author on Writing.Com which is located at http://www.Writing.Com/ and is accessible by anyone.

Her writing portfolio may be viewed at


Careers & Employment
Grief & Loss
Kids & Teens
Public Speaking
Self Help
Self Improvement & Motivation
Sexual Relations
Stress Management
Travel and Leisure

From our extensive site, you'll find good info on many topics using this search:

A great way to support your Trans4mind Training is to use these popular and effective hypnosis downloads...

  • The Next Level ~ Designed to radically boost your performance in any field. It's based on a technique used by top athletes and other successful people to help them make a big stride forward.
  • Create Your Own Reality ~ Use the power of your unconscious mind to transform your life.
  • Deeper Self Respect ~ Use hypnosis to connect with your true inner worth.
  • Detach From Fear ~ Tune out nervousness and anxiety with hypnosis.
  • Generalized Anxiety Treatment ~ Use hypnosis as a generalized anxiety disorder treatment and you can feel calm today.
  • Improving Concentration and Focus ~ Learn how to discipline, direct and command your mind to improve your performance.
  • Exercise Motivation ~ Give you powerful keys to getting back on track with your exercise - and staying there.
  • Overcoming Shyness ~ Provides an invisible security blanket allowing you to develop social ease and overcome shyness.
  • Quick Confidence Booster ~ An audio hypnosis session that's specifically designed to get you (quickly!) back on track.
  • Stop Negative Thoughts ~ Learn powerful hypnotic techniques to stop negative thoughts before they start.
  • Overcoming Procrastination ~ Let hypnosis help you get on with what you need to do, when you need to do it. Let nothing hold you back.
  • Think Thin ~ Use hypnosis to re-train your brain and lose weight naturally... that's how to get and stay slim.
  • Fall Asleep Fast ~ Relearn how to fall asleep fast and enjoy a good night's sleep.
Search on an issue that interests or concerns you...

Trans4mind Training is the best thing we've ever done! It's a series of interactive video workshops covering the key challenges we all face in life - to help you achieve greater inner peace and true fulfillment.
Copyright © 1997-2016 Trans4mind Ltd