Many great poets have been influenced from their cultural environment and public events. Some may read a poem and think it is the greatest poem they’ve ever read but really have no clue what could have influenced them to write that poem. Whether it is a personal experience or a national event, every work of literature has an influence.
In the poem “The Weary Blues”, Langston Hughes was most likely influenced by the Harlem Renaissance. “Droning a drowsy syncopated tune, Rocking back and forth to a mellow croon, I heard a Negro play.” Hearing a negro droning a drowsy syncopated tune means that the man was playing a very soft low tone. Being that poem is titled “The Weary Blues” one could assume this is back in the Harlem Renaissance days. “Swaying to and fro on his rickety stool”, this again adds the assumption of the old Harlem Renaissance days. It almost seems like Langston Hughes made it sound so typical of a scenario to maybe get his point across.
The poem “Harlem” is a little bit more tricky when it comes to symbolism. Without the first line “What happens to a dream deferred?”, it may be nearly impossible to understand what this poem really means. What also helps the reader understand is that it goes back and forth on what could happen to a “deferred” dream. “Does it dry up, like a raisin in the sun?” Something that dries up usually isn’t good. A raisin is a dried up grape. So a grape (dream), dries up (deferred) and becomes a raisin (reality). This can relate to the Civil Rights Movement. Blacks at the time were in America, where dreams of men and women can be fulfilled at their own will and hard work but because they were black, they couldn’t fulfill their dreams. The very last line can be the opposite of good coming out of a deferred dream. “Or does it explode?” Maybe Langston Hughes wrote this to shown the possibility of black revolting or exploding after racism and discrimination.
With enough background and knowledge of major events, it can be very easy to find out a poets motive to write. Maybe the reason that some the most famous and memorable poems came from times of tragedy is because the worst of times can have the most influence on a person.