Sample English Project Paper on Poetry

Project Paper

The 20th and 21st centuries have seen poetry grow to different levels. Just like music, poetry has played an integral role in the lives of human beings both in the old and modern generations. It should be noted that, ever since, poetry has changed undergone a number of changes thanks to the poets who have come up with advanced and detailed poems. During the Harlem Renaissance period, there were several cultural movements that sprang up and most of the black people, who had been freed after slavery, began campaigns that aimed at achieving political equality, civic participation and cultural and economic determination (Wintz et al, 2003). In order to achieve these; they decided to write poems that would relay their messages to the general public.  Langston Hughes and Robert Hayden were on the forefront in fighting for the rights of the blacks and they played significant roles during the period (Gates & Higginbotham, 2009). The results of their contributions are still evident today as racial discrimination has been done away with across the globe, with exception of a few cases. To start with, Langston Hughes played an integral role in fighting for the freedom and democracy of the black people through his poems. This is illustrated in the themes of most of the poems that he wrote during the Harlem Renaissance period. Besides, he together with other poets criticized racial discrimination which was rampant in the US on the basis of skin color. According to Langston, the whites were very oppressive and elevated themselves to higher levels than the blacks. This did not auger well with Langston Hughes and co. While fighting for democracy, Hughes wrote a number of poems one of them being Democracy. In the poem, Hughes stated that:

I have as much right                                                                               

As the other fellow has

To stand

On my two feet

And own the land.

The other poet who fought for democracy and freedom of the blacks during the period is Robert Hayden. In his fight for the blacks, he remembered his life in prison through the poem The Prisoners (Goldstein & Chrisman, 2002). In the poem, Hayden states that:

Clasped ours in welcome I sensed the plea

Of men denied: Believe us human

Like yourselves, who but for Grace

“Double-consciousness” is one of the factors that sparked the revolution that was witnessed during the Harlem Renaissance period. This is seen in a number of poems written during the period, for instance, in Langston Hughes poem of Democracy, “double-consciousness” is evidenced in the elements where he argues that:

Democracy will not come

Today, this year

Nor ever

Through compromise or fear

Conversely, the aspect of “double-consciousness” is evidenced in Robert Hayden’s poem The Prisoners in the elements where he states that:

I sensed the plea

Of men denied: Believe us human

Like yourselves

The Harlem Renaissance was a period that witnessed great revolution by the blacks whereby they had come to realize that they were equal to the whites (Publishing, 2003). Therefore, they demanded for equal opportunities with the whites, they struggled for civic participation, political equality and cultural and economic determination. Notably, one of the aspects that made the blacks realize that the whites were not superior to them is “double-consciousness”. In respect to this realization, the poems written during this period circulate around the themes of democracy and imprisonment. To begin with, democracy states that individuals should be treated equally and given equal opportunities despite their ethnicity, race or skin color. In his poem Democracy, Langston brings out the theme. He opines that:

Democracy will not come

Today, this year

Nor ever

Through compromise and fear

Conversely, the other theme that is evident in the poems written during the Harlem Renaissance period is imprisonment. This is a practice where an individual is denied freedom to do something or a certain action. For instance, most of the blacks were denied freedom of movement or expression through imprisonment (Berry, 1992). This is clearly illustrated in Hughes poem when he states that:

I live here, too.

I want freedom

Just as you

Robert Hayden’s poem The Prisoners also talks about the imprisonment that the blacks underwent. In various ways, the blacks revolted against the whites and this did not go well with the whites in the US. The theme of imprisonment is evident in Hayden’s the prisoners when he states that:

Steel doors- guillotine gates-

Of the doorless house closed massively.

We were locked in with loss

The themes expressed by the Harlem Renaissance poets: democracy and imprisonment are still pushed for today by modern poets. It should not be forgotten that in the world today, oppression of the black is still a common practice. The following poem expresses the themes of democracy and imprisonment:

Like you,

We want access

To education

Like you,

We want access

To maternal services

This is the definition

Of modern democracy

In the modern times


Set us free,

From the chains,

Of bondage


Open the doors

So that we,

May be free like you





Berry, F. (1992). Langston Hughes, before and beyond Harlem. Secaucus, N.J: Carol Pub. Group.

Gates, H. L., & Higginbotham, E. B. (2009). Harlem Renaissance lives: From the African American national biography. Oxford ;New York: Oxford University Press.

Goldstein, L., & Chrisman, R. (2002). Robert Hayden: Essays on the poetry. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Publishing, I. (2003). The Harlem Renaissance. New York: Infobase Pub.

Wintz, C. D., Dunbar, P. L., Chesnutt, C. W., Howells, W. D., Cullen, C., Larsen, N., Du, B. W. E. B., … Wright, R. (2003). The Harlem Renaissance: An anthology. Maplecrest, N.Y: Brandywine Press.