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Langston Hughes Life is Fine
Transcript of Langston Hughes Life is Fine
I set down on the bank.
I tried to think but couldn't,
So I jumped in and sank.
I came up once and hollered!
I came up twice and cried!
If that water hadn't a-been so cold
I might've sunk and died.
But it was Cold in that water! It was cold!
I took the elevator
Sixteen floors above the ground.
I thought about my baby
And thought I would jump down.
I stood there and I hollered!
I stood there and I cried!
If it hadn't a-been so high
I might've jumped and died.
But it was High up there! It was high!
So since I'm still here livin',
I guess I will live on.
I could've died for love--
But for livin' I was born
Though you may hear me holler,
And you may see me cry--
I'll be dogged, sweet baby,
If you gonna see me die.
Life is fine! Fine as wine! Life is fine! Poetic Devices Tone Words Stanzas Refers to the disillusion that people often have about death.
When there is something extremely difficult and melancholic which may seem impossible to overcome, death is often considered the only outlet.
People find death as a quick and coward means to run away from the pains that life creates.
Poem reveals an opposite side of this matter: it is actually harder to keep moving on than to give up on life. Forceful and bitter, but yet critical
Becomes more positive as the speaker finally realizes that “life is fine”
Pessimism to optimism
In the end becomes more aware of how lucky he still is as he admits:“So since I’m still here livin’, I guess I will live on.” “but” also reveals the speaker’s effort to explain why his determination fails as death approaches him
“Cold” and “High” written in capitals. The purpose of this is to give those adjectives significant positions as to give people names. “Gonna” is an example of colloquial English language
By including this specific language, Hughes aims to make his piece of work more engaging to the audience, particularly the Black American community who is known to have created this distinguished language. “Fine as wine” is a simile -evokes the speaker’s transformation from a suicidal weakling who appears in the opening of the poem to such an optimistic man at in the end Assonance is used in the last line of the poem: Life is fine! Fine as wine! Life is fine! Continued use of the long "i" sound 6 stanzas
Variable refrain after each 2 stanzas Last word in the second line rhymes with the last word in the fourth line (Recognized as A-B-C-B) Langston Hughes is known as a significant poet of the Harlem Renaissance- “an African American artistic movement in the 1920s that celebrated black life and culture"
Born in Joplin, Missouri on Feb. 1, 1902
Carrie M. Langston and James N. Hughes
Began writing poetry and developing his unique style showing commitment to racial themes such as pride in blackness and in his African heritage, and the everyday life of African Americans.
Father tried to discourage him from writing
Hughes received numerous scholarships, awards, and honorary degrees
A few of his works:
Not Without Laughter
The Big Sea
I Wonder As I Wander
Shakespeare In Harlem In his poem “Life is fine”, Hughes particularly brings out the significance of life which is often reinforced by the obstacles that people encounter in their living journeys. The poem is considered Hughes’s most successful piece of work as it concentrates on the hardships of not only the African American community, but all humanity. Hughes structures the poem as a monologue where the speaker narrates his development from being in total despair to self- enlightenment.
The first four stanzas are the depictions of the speaker’s attempts to commit suicide. His determination is highlighted in the first stanza, particularly in these two sentences: “I tried to think but couldn’t; So I jumped in and sank.”
However, his attempt fails eventually: “I came up once and hollered! I came up twice and cried!” Based on this, the audience can interpret that he in fact tries to drown himself twice before he gives up and starts crying. At this point, the speaker’s strong emotion about the situation he’s struggling with is evoked.
He then again makes an effort to kill himself by jumping from a sixteenth floor of a building in the third stanza. This is also when the audience comes to know the reason for his decision to seek the death: “I thought about my baby -And thought I would jump down”. Obviously, the loss of love is the motivation that pushes him to the edge.
Nevertheless, at the end the speaker is still alive as he finally realizes the sacredness of life enough to acclaim: “Life is fine! Fine as wine! Life is fine.”
By linking the speaker’s situation in the poem with their own experiences in encountering similar miseries, the audience can easily interpret the message that the poet is trying to convey through his poem. The End!!! Bibliography
http://www.notablebiographies.com/Ho-Jo/Hughes-Langston.html Exclamation marks in the refrain are used to express the speaker's intense emotions towards the pain and struggles faced throughout the poem Note: By demonstrating how the man struggles with forcing himself to death and at the end becomes more aware of what he has been given, the poet introduces the concepts of life being “fine as wine” and how people should appreciate it instead of easily giving it away. Note: The similarities between the first two refrains: “But it was Cold in that water! It was cold!”and “But it was High up there! It was high!” demonstrates the speaker’s fear as he almost experiences the frightening features of death. Note: Hughes connects with the audience through his sophistication towards life’s matters in which issues revolving around the African American community are frequently addressed. Note: “Life is Fine” is a perfect example that demonstrates an endless scenario when people come to death as a permanent solution for everything. Note: He profoundly depicts the speaker’s hardships by letting the man openly express his melancholy to the audience. The bitterness in the poet’s tone is evoked when he emphasizes the unavoidable failure when the speaker tries to kill himself twice. At the same time, Hughes also criticizes humans’ superficiality through the disregard of life that the speaker shows in the poem. Hence, the mood created is realistic and gloomy at first, but it becomes more positive as the speaker finally realizes that “life is fine”. Note: “Life is fine” by Langston Hughes successfully conveys one of humanity’s most fundamental understandings: life is sacred and we should not give it away no matter what. Life and death may seem to be two extremely opposite concepts, but if humans could not be enlightened soon enough, the distance between life and death is just a jump away as described in the poem. This poem would be a good selecion on the AP exam because there is much to write about to show your ability to analyze and interpret literary texts in clear and effective prose. “Life is fine” not only addresses a typical scenario when people come to death as an option to end everything but it is also a meaningful lesson for everyone to reflect on themselves.