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Analysis of "Ballad of the Landlord" by Langston Hughes

In 1940 Langston Hughes wrote a poem called “Ballad of the Landlord.” Langston Hughes was an American poet. However, he was so much more than that. James Mercer Langston Hughes was also a social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist. Hughes mainly wrote poems for the Harlem Renaissance.

Throughout the poem there are several questions that are being asked. There were two different types of questions that we asked. In the beginning of the poem, the tenant asks the landlord if they remember that the tenant told them about a leak in the roof. Towards the end of the poem, the tenant is calling out the landlord for not fixing anything that is wrong with the building. The landlord then says that the tenant owes them $10, but the tenant refuses to pay until some of the problems with the building is fixed.

The order in which these questions are asked allows the reader to be able to imagine a conversation happening between the landlord and the tenant. Even though there are no personality or characteristics about the characters in the poem, the reader is able to put the emphasis on different parts of the questions and guess how they may have been said.

Overall this poem was written with great amounts of detail. At first glance it may not seem this way, however, the reader is able to pick up on subtle details left by the author. These details are not about the characteristics of the characters or the surroundings. They are about the emphasis and the language that is commonly used, especially at that time.

Langston Hughes poems show the Harlem Renaissance through the wording and language that is used. The Harlem Renaissance was about the cultural proliferation that had begun in New York’s, African-American community. The cultural proliferation included music and literature, as well as, every form of art and expression. The Harlem Renaissance was able to bring a new sense of identity to the community.


Works Cited

“Harlem Renaissance.” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation, www.poetryfoundation.org/learn/glossary-terms/harlem-renaissance.

“Langston Hughes.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 24 June 2020, www.biography.com/writer/langston-hughes.