“The Blues” and “My People” are two incredibly short but powerful poems by Langston Hughes. “The Blues” captures the essence of the Age of Wonderful Nonsense, while “My People” embraces the idea that blacks are a beautiful race of people.
By Hughes writing “The Blues” during the Jazz Age the reader can grasp a more authentic image of the 1920s. Although “The Blues” is short, imagery is prevalent in each and every line. During the 1920s the citizens of America were disillusioned and jaded with the world. Ways in which American’s masked their disillusionment included indulging in alcohol, consuming masses of goods, and throwing parties with friends. The “candy bar” (5) symbolizes America’s lust to buy and consume in order to alleviate the pains of World War I. The candy bar’s significance is demonstrated when Hughes writes “that’s the blues, too, and bad!” (8)
In essence, Hughes is demonstrating the mixed priorities in America through wonderful metaphors and imagery. Unlike the previous puritanical work ethic, in the Age of Wonderful Nonsense, consumerism comes before work in importance. “The blues” (4) acts as a metaphor for the average 1920s American. When one’s “shoe strings break” (1) he/she only has “the blues,” (4) but when one loses their money and cannot afford a candy bar he/she has “the blues…and bad.” While the “candy bar,” (5) or consumerism is deemed very important, work is deemed not as important in the Langston Hughes’s poem “The Blues.”
In Hughes’s poem “My People” Hughes demonstrates the equality of blacks in America. Rather than stating his intent bluntly, Hughes shields his controversial (at the time) message through impressive imagery and metaphor. There is a gradual transition between the stating of the “beautiful” (1) qualities of black “people” (2) and the logical reasoning for civil rights. At first Hughes strings a metaphor comparing “the night” (1) and beauty. The night is dark just like the “faces of my people.” (2) Then Hughes compares his “people,” (2) or black Americans, with the stars, which are white. Hughes is stating that blacks and whites are equal and that skin color does not matter. By comparing the “sun’s” (5) beauty with the “souls of my people,” (6) Hughes is stating that black Americans souls are not evil and dark but bright and warm like the sun.