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Posted on April 27th, 2014, by

Does the poem Theme for English B by Langston Hughes help justify the nickname given to Hughes – Shakespeare of Harlem?

It is known that the nickname of Langston Hughes is Shakespeare of Harlem because most of his poems can be compared to Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Hughes is regarded as one of the leading poets of the Harlem Renaissance. His home in Harlem, New York City was given the status of a so-called landmark, and the street where he lived was renamed as Langston Hughes Place. Harlem is discussed in many of Hughes’s poems because the poet “has been concerned with the black metropolis”¯ (Davis 276). The poems about Harlem prove the fact that Langston Hughes loves Harlem as well as the citizens of the community. Many critics call Hughes “a social poet”¯ because he influenced the changing attitude of African Americans in the USA. The poem Theme for English B written by Langston Hughes in 1949 helps to justify this nickname because the author pays special attention to Harlem in his poem. He writes:

The steps from the hill lead down into


through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas,

Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y,

the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the

elevator”¦(Hughes 11-16).

His writing style is based on the use of the simple language which can be understood by any reader. It is known that Harlem became an intellectual center for many young African American writers and artists. Davis states in his article that “this so-call Renaissance not only encouraged and inspired the black creative artist, but it served also to focus the attention of America on the Negro artist and scholar”¯ (277). Langston Hughes represents the picture of Harlem is such poems as Shakespeare in Harlem, The Weary Blues, Death in Harlem and many other poems.

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