I Too Sing America

 I Too Sing America

By Langston Hughes

I, too, sing America.

i am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”

They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.

Summary of I Too Sing America

  • Popularity of “I Too Sing America”: Written by Langston Hughes, an African American poet, writer, and activist, the poem “I Too Sing America” first appeared in his collection The Weary Blues. The racial discrimination that the poet obliquely shows presents the situation of 1926 when it first got published. The poem compares two situations, one with racial discrimination and one having equality, and both show a marked difference. Herein lies the reason for the popularity of the poem.
  • “I Too Sing America” As a Representative of Racial Discrimination: The poet, who is possibly the speaker, states that he also sings in praise of his country, saying that although he is not white, he is still an American. However, it happens that the company of his countrymen sends him to eat in the kitchen and keeps him away from them. They enjoy it but stop him from doing the same thing. The poet, however, has high expectations. He is of the view that it would happen tomorrow that the same company would not have the courage to ask him to eat in the kitchen. It is, then, they would come to know the beauty and the courage in him. It shows that someday it would dawn upon them that he is also an American citizen having the same rights and the same beauty.
  • Major Themes in “I Too Sing America”: Racial hatred, patriotism, and hopes for a better future are three major thematic strands. The poet is fully aware that he belongs to the African American community and that he does not have the same status as the white population. Therefore, he would be kept in the kitchen and not brought to the table. However, it could happen that his patriotism may bring him into the limelight, and he has equal rights. It would happen then that the same company of the white would not dare to ask him the same. Then they would see his beauty of spirits. It means Langston Hughes is sure that he is a true patriot. And it would happen someday that he would win his rights.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in I Too Sing America

Langston Hughes uses various literary devices to enhance the intended impact of his poem against racism. Some of the major literary devices he uses in this poem are as follows.

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /i/ in “I, too, sing America” and the sound of /o/ in “And grow strong.”
  2. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession, such as the sound of /c/ in “company comes.”
  3. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line, such as the sound of /c/ in “When company comes” and the sound of /g/ in “And grow strong.”
  4. Dialog: It means a two-way conversation. The poem shows the use of a short dialog, such as “Eat in the kitchen.”
  5. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. Langston Hughes uses imagery in this poem, such as “And grow strong”, “I am the darker brother” and “Nobody’ll dare.”
  6. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. The poem shows symbols such as earth, sky, day, rose, and spring to show the beauty of man’s soul.

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in I Too Sing America

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is an analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Diction: It means the type of language. The poem has simple and poetic diction.
  2. Free Verse: It means the use of verses without any rhyme scheme or metrical pattern. The poem shows the use of free verse.
  3. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are three stanzas in this poem, with each comprising a different number of verses and two one-liners.
  4. Tone: It means the voice of the text. The poem shows an imploring, daring and optimistic tone.

Quotes to be Used

The following lines are useful to quote when shaming people for racial discrimination.

They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.