Harlem Essay

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Harry Phillips is a freelance writer and is currently teaching in the Department of English and Foreign Languages at Central Piedmont Community College. In the following essay, Phillips examines how the negative imagery of "Harlem" and the poem's structure of unanswered questions lead the reader to "consider the various psychological and emotional circumstances black individuals might experience in a society that continues to struggle with putting into practice its egalitarian ideals. "

Legendary blues musician W. C. Handy once remarked of one of Langston Hughes's shorter poems that the poet had accomplished in four lines "what it would have taken Shakespeare two acts and three scenes to say." Handy's pithy observation hits at a central feature of much twentieth-century poetry-the poet's ability to create a mountain of meaning from the studied arrangement of a very few words. Published in 1951, "Harlem" manages to evoke nearly a century of African-American history...

(read more from the Critical Essay #1 section)

This section contains 1,591 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Harlem Study Guide
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Poetry for Students
Harlem from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.