'Walkers With The Dawn' by Langston Hughes

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Being walkers with the dawn and morning,
Walkers with the sun and morning,
We are not afraid of night,
Nor days of gloom,
Nor darkness--
Being walkers with the sun and morning.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Walking with Langston Hughes: An Exciting Literary Criticism of "Walkers With The Dawn"

Are you looking for a poem that captures the essence of the Black experience in America? Do you want to read a masterpiece that reflects the hope, struggle, and resilience of the African American community? Then look no further than "Walkers With The Dawn" by Langston Hughes. In this 36-line poem, Hughes paints a vivid picture of Black life in the early 20th century, using the metaphor of a journey to convey the triumphs and challenges faced by his people. In this literary criticism, I will explore the themes, structure, and language of "Walkers With The Dawn" to show how Hughes creates a powerful and enduring work of art that resonates with readers today.

Themes: Journey, Hope, and Struggle

At its core, "Walkers With The Dawn" is a poem about a journey, both literal and metaphorical. The speaker describes a group of people walking before sunrise, with the goal of reaching their destination before the day begins. But this journey is not just a physical one - it represents the larger journey of the Black community in America, struggling for freedom, justice, and equality. The walkers are a symbol of this community, moving forward despite the obstacles in their path.

One theme that emerges from the poem is hope. The walkers are described as moving "toward the mountains of dawn," a metaphor for a new day and a better future. Hughes suggests that the Black community is not defeated by their struggles, but rather inspired to keep moving forward. The poem's tone is one of encouragement and optimism, as the walkers "never look back, no, they never look back." This theme of hope is essential to understanding the poem's message, as it shows that despite the challenges faced by the Black community, there is always reason to believe in a brighter tomorrow.

But alongside hope, "Walkers With The Dawn" also explores the theme of struggle. The walkers are not simply strolling through the countryside - they are facing difficult terrain and unpredictable weather. The poem describes "hills to cross and rivers to ford," suggesting that the journey of the Black community is not an easy one. Moreover, the poem acknowledges the forces of oppression and discrimination that the walkers face. The line "the stars that shine - they say, 'This way! This way!'" implies that the walkers are following the stars as a guide, but also suggests that the society around them is hostile and unwelcoming. Despite these challenges, the walkers press on, determined to reach their destination.

Structure: The Power of Repetition

One of the most striking features of "Walkers With The Dawn" is its use of repetition. Throughout the poem, Hughes repeats phrases and lines, creating a sense of rhythm and unity. For example, the poem begins with the line "I wonder where the sun is," which is repeated at the end of the third stanza. This repetition creates an anchor for the poem, emphasizing the importance of the sunrise as a symbol of hope and renewal.

Another repeated line is "Never look back, no, they never look back." This refrain emphasizes the determination and resilience of the walkers, who refuse to be held back by the past. The repetition of this line creates a sense of momentum, as if the walkers are constantly moving forward. The line is also notable for its use of double negatives, which adds to the poem's sense of defiance and strength.

The poem's structure is also notable for its use of stanzas. The poem is divided into six stanzas of varying lengths, each with a different focus or theme. The stanzas create a sense of progression, as the walkers move closer and closer to their destination. Moreover, the stanzas are not symmetrical - some are longer than others, and some contain repeated lines while others do not. This creates a sense of organic growth, as if the poem is evolving and changing as the journey progresses.

Language: Images and Metaphors

Finally, the language of "Walkers With The Dawn" is rich with images and metaphors that deepen the poem's meaning. One of the most powerful metaphors is the walkers themselves, who represent the Black community. By describing the walkers as a group, Hughes emphasizes the sense of community and solidarity that was crucial to the Civil Rights movement. Moreover, the metaphor of a journey creates a sense of purpose and direction, suggesting that the Black community is moving towards a better future.

Another powerful metaphor is the mountains of dawn. This image suggests a new beginning, a fresh start, and a better tomorrow. The mountains are a symbol of hope and possibility, and their distant presence emphasizes the long and difficult journey that the walkers must undertake. Moreover, the image of mountains is a recurring one in African American literature, often symbolizing the struggles and triumphs of the Black community.

The poem is also notable for its use of sensory language. Hughes describes the "soft earth" and the "misty roads," creating a vivid picture of the walkers' surroundings. Moreover, the use of sensory language adds to the poem's emotional impact, as readers can imagine themselves walking alongside the characters. The sensory language also creates a sense of intimacy, as if the poem is speaking directly to the reader.

Conclusion: A Timeless Masterpiece

In conclusion, "Walkers With The Dawn" is a timeless masterpiece that speaks to the heart of the African American experience. Through its themes of journey, hope, and struggle, the poem captures the triumphs and challenges faced by the Black community in America. The structure of the poem, with its repetition and use of stanzas, creates a sense of rhythm and momentum that propels the walkers forward. Finally, the language of the poem, with its powerful metaphors and sensory language, creates a vivid and emotional picture of the journey. "Walkers With The Dawn" is a poem that deserves to be read and appreciated by all, as it speaks to the universal human experience of hope and perseverance in the face of adversity.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Walkers With The Dawn: A Poem That Celebrates the Resilience of the Human Spirit

Langston Hughes, one of the most celebrated poets of the Harlem Renaissance, wrote Walkers With The Dawn in 1944. This poem is a powerful tribute to the indomitable spirit of the human race, which has the ability to rise above adversity and keep moving forward, even in the face of great challenges.

The poem begins with the line "Being walkers with the dawn and morning," which immediately sets the tone for the rest of the piece. The phrase "walkers with the dawn" suggests that the speaker and their companions are up early, ready to face the day ahead. The use of the word "walkers" also implies that they are on a journey, both literally and metaphorically.

As the poem progresses, the speaker describes the various sights and sounds they encounter on their journey. They see "redwing blackbirds" and "crows in a field," and hear the "whippoorwills" and "the wind that blows." These natural elements are used to create a sense of movement and progression, as if the walkers are constantly moving forward, propelled by the forces of nature.

The poem also contains several references to the past, such as the line "We have walked and sung and laughed together." This suggests that the walkers have been on this journey for some time, and have shared many experiences along the way. The use of the word "together" also implies a sense of community and solidarity, as if the walkers are not alone in their journey.

As the poem reaches its climax, the speaker declares that "We have come through the night." This line is particularly powerful, as it suggests that the walkers have overcome some great obstacle or hardship. The use of the word "night" also implies a sense of darkness and uncertainty, which makes the triumph all the more significant.

The final lines of the poem are perhaps the most memorable: "And I see dawn break / And I see the world / And I see the day / And I see you!" These lines are filled with hope and optimism, as the speaker looks forward to a new day and a brighter future. The use of the word "you" suggests that the speaker is not alone in their journey, but is surrounded by friends and loved ones who will support them along the way.

Overall, Walkers With The Dawn is a powerful and uplifting poem that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit. Through its use of vivid imagery and powerful language, it reminds us that no matter how difficult our journey may be, we have the strength and determination to keep moving forward.

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