poetry essay-herron

DeAnjelo Herron
English 3 Period
February 13, 2012
      How do you think it is to be judged by the color of your skin or the way you look. Lots of people commit suicide over the simplest things.                                                                                                 

             In the poem “Ballad of the Landlord” by Langston Hughes the poet uses onomatopoeia, repetition and rhyme to create the theme of treat people the way you want to be treated 
            Langston Hughes poem, “The Ballad of the Landlord” describes very poignantly the pathetic living conditions of the blacks in New York’s Harlem in the 1930s.
The ballad is an imaginary conversation between a black tenant and his white landlord. The white landlord has been exploiting his black tenant for a very long time by not repairing the black tenant’s house – the roof leaks, and the steps are broken. When the black tenant insists that the white landlord should immediately repair the leaking roof and the broken stairs, he retorts that he will evict him from the house and that he will cut off the heating and throw out his furniture,
“What? You gonna get eviction orders?
You gonna cut off my heat?
You gonna take my furniture and
Throw it in the street?”
            In “Ballad of the Landlord,” Langston Hughes appropriates the traditional ballad form but uses it in a contemporary urban setting to relate a current and crushing social problem. This conjunction of traditional form and contemporary content lends further power to the poem’s cry for social justice. The poem contains nine ballad stanzas that, in traditional use of the form, would narrate a tale of a dramatic or romantic adventure. The story here, however, tells of protest and jail.
            “Ballad of the Landlord” was a phenomenal example of poverty. It touched points on poverty and racism. The poem showed rage and frustration, the deep emotions that tenants were feeling. It was hard for black people in poverty because they were black. “Man threatens landlord held no bail judge gives negro 90 days in county jail.”  I wonder if the tenet was white would they have this problem? The man wants better living conditions and the tenant just shuts him away. I could imagine how he felt, angry, unheard, and without power. This poem describes a confrontation between a black tenant, living probably in the ghetto of a big-city, USA, and his landlord. The tenant reminds the landlord of his maintenance problems, a leaky roof and broken steps. The landlord ignores the tenant’s problems and tells him his ten-dollar rent is due. This response angers the tenant, so he refuses to pay until the landlord fixes the house. Immediately, the landlord threatens to evict him, turn off the heat, and throw all his furniture into the street, if he doesn’t pay the rent. Feeling that one threat deserves another, the tenant also threatens the landlord with a punch to the lips to shut him up. The landlord calls the police because of the tenant’s threat. The media distorts this incident and portrays the poor tenant (and not the landlord) as the aggressor. The tenant is arrested and thrown to jail, without bail, for 90 days.    
            How do you think it is to be judged by the color of your skin or the way you look. Lots of people commit suicide over the simplest things.


Langston Hughes – Herron

 Born: February 1, 1902

Death:  May 22, 1967

The son of teacher Carrie Langston and James Nathaniel Hughes, James Mercer “Langston” Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri. His father abandoned the family.He left for Cuba, then Mexico, due to enduring racism in the United States. Young Langston was left to be raised by his grandmother in Lawrence, Kansas. After his grandmother’s death, he went to live with family friends. Due to an unstable early life, his childhood was not a happy one, but it intensely influenced the poet he would become. Later, he lived again with his mother in Lincoln, Illinois, who had remarried. During high school, he wrote for the school newspaper, edited the yearbook, and began to write short stories, poetry, and dramatic plays. His first piece of jazz poetry was “When Sue Wears Red”. 

  • In 1930, Langston Hughes won the Golden Harmon award
  • Langston Hughes was a great African american
  • Langston Hughes received the Anisfield-Wolf Award in 1953
  • One of the most prestigious awards Hughes received was the NAACP’s Springarn Medal


“Langston Hughes Biography – Facts, Birthday, Life Story – Biography.com.” Famous Biographies & TV Shows – Biography.com. Web. 31 Jan. 2012.

“Langston Hughes Biography.” Bio.com. A&E Networks Television. Web. 27 Feb. 2012. <http://www.biography.com/people/langston-hughes-9346313&gt;.


 “Langston Hughes Biography.” Famous Poets and Poems – Read and Enjoy Poetry. Web. 31 Jan. 2012. <http://www.famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/langston_hughes/biography&gt;

“Langston Hughes Biography: African-American History: Crossing Boundaries: Kansas Humanities Council.” Kansas Heritage Group | Established 1993 | Kansas (KS) History, Old WestKS, Cities, Museums, Art, Racing, Cowboy Cooking, Laughead Web | Www.kansasheritage.org. Web. 31 Jan. 2012. <http://www.kansasheritage.org/crossingboundaries/page6e1.html&gt;.