Poem Project

By Ilene Tuck | 1st Period

Life is Fine by Langston Hughes

I went down to the river,

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!

Literal Meaning

The basis of the poem is that the speaker wants to die by drowning and jumping off of a building, but the speaker does not because the water is cold and the building is too high. He comments that since he is still living, he might as well live on. He might have died for love but he was born to live.


  • This is a narrative poem, and the speaker almost commits suicide twice.
  • The speaker expresses eagerness, sadness, compassion, depression, and love.
  • The mood of this poem is gloomy, but positive toward the end.
  • The speaker is a man, not the poet, and is speaking to himself.
  • The tone is bitter, and calm.


  • The form of this poem is a monologue.
  • The movement is from one attitude to another, and has cause and effect.
  • The syntax consists of 20 sentences, it is simple, and has verbs in front of the nouns.
  • The punctuation throughout this poem contains many exclamation points, and a few enjambments in the middle of the lines.
  • The title means life is fine, which is the main idea of the poem.


  • The diction is composed of simple words.
  • There are no allusions in this poem.
  • There is a lot of imagery in this poem, like personification when it capitalizes "Cold" and "High," making the river and building a proper noun. There are some similes like "Life is fine! Fine as Wine!" There is also a metaphor "But for livin' I was born" which means that in order to have a new outlook on life, you must be out of your comfort zone.

Musical Devices

  • The rhyme scheme for this poem is ABCB
  • The effect of meter is that i makes the poem more suspenseful and meaningful to the reader.
  • There are no "sound effects" in this poem.
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