"Suicide's Note" By Langston Hughes
analyzed by Andries Payne
Brief Description of Langston Hughes
James Mercer Langston Hughes (February 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967) was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist. Hughes is best known as a leader of the Harlem Renaissance. Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri and the second child of Caroline Mercer Langston and James Nathaniel Hughes. He grew up in many Midwestern towns and his father divorced hi mother and moved to Cuba and later Mexico to escape racism. Once his mother remarried he moved to Cleveland, Ohio and attended high school there.During high school in Cleveland, he wrote for the school newspaper, edited the yearbook, and began to write his first short stories, poetry, and dramatic plays. His first piece of jazz poetry, "When Sue Wears Red", was written while he was in high school. He briefly attendee Columbia University as an engineering major but left after 2 years due to racial prejudice and soon traveled Europe to West Africa and continued his poetry writing and received various awards for it while living in Harlem.
The true meaning of this poem is that the speaker basically fell into the river face first and committed a peaceful and serene suicide.
The poem is a narrative that tells a story about the event where the speaker commits suicide. the poem express a calm and serene mood. Using words like "cool face" to describe the peaceful river. the speaker is the person who commits suicide and is told from a fictional persona the speaker is communicating to the person who finds his body. You can trust the speaker because he is telling a personal story and sharing an event that lead to his fatal death. The speaker has a calm attitude towards the topic. Its appropriate to speak as if your soul is at peace when reading it aloud. Images of a still river and a slight breeze gives a the reader a calm cool and collected idea.
The poem is entirely free formed because the speaker is keeping it simple and is just expressing a brief indication of his death. The poem doesn't really develop because its so short which also causes it to be free in association and remains in the same attitude towards being at peace.The poem only has one complete sentence and simple and complex. The verb is after the noun also expressing the simple and serene tone. The poem has very simple punctuation and coincide with the poetic line giving an end- stopped line. There is not any punctuation in the middle of a line. The title meaning is literally what the poem describes and it a suicide note telling how the speaker committed suicide.
The language is simple and the reader understands all the words. Moods are associated with words such as cool and calm describing peace. Allusions are not stated or evident but the reader can make the assumption that based on the time period this poem is allusion for the feelings some african americans feel towards the treatement inflicted towards them through Jim Crow Laws and consistent discrimination. Imagery is evident in the poem through the use of personification by stating the river asked for a kiss and it has a calm cool face . This gives the river human aspects and also creates a over all soothing tone.
the poem contains an irregular rhyme schme that is satisfying and simple. There is not a clear rhythmic effect due to the free flow of words but there is a sense of stressed and unstressed syllables.This poem also does not Contain any sound effects.