Langston Hughes is a legendary poet during the Harlem Renaissance that uses his insight of beings black man in America to create his famous poems. However, in his free verse poem, Life Is Fine, is not only in the sight of an African American, but it can also be used as an insight for all of humanity. Langston Hughes’s poem Life Is Fine, Hughes uses form and tone, within a short six stanzas to create a playful, energetic feeling in a man’s despair for a fight for life.
In the first stanza, the scenery is realistically gloomy. It is at a setting of a bank of a river where the narrator decides to go to do some thinking. As he is there he suddenly realizes that he can not think and results in trying to drown himself in the water.
Then in the second stanza, as he was drowning for his suicide attempt, he is interrupted as he is staring death in the face. Trying to justify, why he did not go with it, he repeats the water temperature But it was Cold in that water! It was cold!.
In the third stanza, is the narrator’s second attempt for suicide. He has now taken the elevator to the sixteenth floor and he wanted to jump. However, he then thinks about his baby.
This, resulting in the fourth stanza to mirrored in the second stanza but being slightly altered. With him still trying to justify again why he does not go with his second suicidal attempt, he repeats But it was High up there! It was High!.
But then in the fifth stanza, becomes a turning point for the narrator. His mood shifts from being gloomy to more positive, he decides I guess I will live on. In the sixth stanza, he admitted that he might be down and depressed but how his baby will not see him die.
Ending with the line by a self reconciling that Life is fine! Fine as wine! Life is fine!
The narrator’s tone in the poem plays a significant role. The poet’s attitude toward the poem’s speaker, reader, and subject matter, as interpreted by the reader. Often described as a mood that pervades the experience of reading the poem, it is created by the poem’s vocabulary, metrical regularity or irregularity, syntax, use of figurative language, and rhyme. It goes from contemplating his failed suicide attempts to then conceding to life. In the beginning, the poem is depressing, and bitter, showing the hardships and sadness that is brought throughout life.
Figurative language is used in the poem such as Fine as wine evoking the narrator’s transformation to something delicate and that takes time to make and appreciate. Also, in the poem, exclamation points are used throughout the poem to express the intense emotion the narrator is feeling towards pain and struggle for us to get more of a sense of it. He accepts he could have died for love but confronting death, he discovers a sense of purpose and that he will live on. The mood goes from pessimism to optimism.
Form, in poetry, can be understood as the physical structure of the poem: the length of the lines, their rhythms, their system of rhymes and repetition. Hughes also uses form in the poem to convey his meaning throughout the poem by telling it in monologue. Most of his poems are considered jazz poetry which is shown in this particular poem. The poem consists of two quatrains followed by a single line. The second line of each quatrain rhymes creating an A-B-C-B rhyme scheme, making it amusing to read. The last line of the poem also has assonance in it. It uses the long I sound to create this bittersweet feeling of relief of conquering his two suicide attempts.
In life’s journey, there is many obstacles to face. There is suffering that is endured but there is also beauty in life to be adored. Langston Hughes poem Life Is Fine, paints a picture of a struggling man on the brink of death and conquering it expressed in form and tone. Teaching us to appreciate life instead of just resulting to giving it away.
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