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Langston Hughes and His Jazz Shoes

A Tough One

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                        Daybreak in Alabama
 

 

When I get to be a composer
I'm gonna write me some music about
Daybreak in Alabama
And I'm gonna put the purtiest songs in it
Rising out of the ground like a swamp mist
And falling out of heaven like soft dew.
I'm gonna put some tall tall trees in it
And the scent of pine needles
And the smell of red clay after rain
And long red necks
And poppy colored faces
And big brown arms
And the field daisy eyes
Of black and white black white black people
And I'm gonna put white hands
And black hands and brown and yellow hands
And red clay earth hands in it
Touching everybody with kind fingers
And touching each other natural as dew
In that dawn of music when I
Get to be a composer
And write about daybreak
In Alabama.

An interesting interpretation

Melissa thinks this poem is about peace and freedom. Hughes says "When I get to be a composer" but really she thinks he is talking about just being an influential person, enough so that people really listen to him and so that he can credibly tell them about things. He talks about really being able to use the senses to their full extent with things that are very simple. Hearing the "purtiest songs," feeling the "swamp mist," and smelling the "pine needles" and the "red clay after the rain." Then he starts talking of body parts and a lot about hands, and he talks about how he wants to put hands of all different colors together "touching each other natural as dew." This is Hughes' way of saying he wants to help put an end to segregation, and for everyone to happily live together in peace. Daybreak in Alabama is Hughes' idea of perfection.
 
I, Tracy, think this poem is about how Langston Hughes was anti-segragation.  Daybreak in Alabama to me means that the "daybreak" is a new begining for state of Alabama, when at the time it was one of the most segregated and mean spirited states in the union.  If Hughes was a composer of humanity he would create beauty from making all of the different intruments of people work together.  I think this poem is about how Hughes was looking to the future when we are all together as Americans.  He was hoping for a time when people can celebrate their culture and ethnicity without being ashamed or hated for who they are.  I think we have come very far since this poem was written, and perhaps Hughes would be happy of all of the progress Americans have made toward accepting one another.