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Poems, American Culture and Values Essay

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The poems “America” written by Allen Ginsberg and Langston Hughes’ “I, Too” are two of the most controversial pieces in American Literature. The two poems acquire such attention because of the subject they discussed and the points and issues they presented. Ginsberg’s “America” and “I, Too” by Hughes tackled values and ethics that is deeply embedded in the American Culture. They integrated in their writings issues about racism and various social problems that has plagued the American system, and has characterized American way of life.

However, although the two poems raised identical issues, the manner in which they were presented was different. Furthermore, the prevailing emotion from the two poems was different as Ginsberg work showcased raged, anger, hatred and hopelessness to the system while in Hughes work hope for better future for things is evident. The poem America is conversational in tone and discusses the grievances and disappointments of the writer to the existing American System during that time.

Ginsberg is a member of a group called the Beat Writers and the rage he expressed in writing the poem is the organization’s manifestation of hatred to the State of American Culture (Foster, 1992). As one reads the poem he may found himself lost to the illogical manner of presentation of different ideas of the poem. This hopeless illogical way of presentation, mirrors the hopeless and illogic state of American Culture. He even pointed out the insanity of American society going to war such as the “cold war”.

He expressed the ridiculousness of the country, bragging itself as the “home of the free”, but is in the forefront of oppressing various countries and minority groups. All in all, Ginsberg presented irritations and frustration and how people have lost their individuality with the advent of mass media and technology. On the other hand, Hughes “I, Too” provided a different view of the social problems present in American Culture. The primary topic is oppression of minorities particularly the isolation of African Americans and whites.

The use of “I” was empowering since it discusses separation and segregation of the American Culture. It iterates that African Americans are also citizens of America and should be treated equally with whites. Unlike the poem America, I, Too states that although the author understand and knew the current social dilemma he is not worried. Hughes stated that the society is slowly realizing the problems at hand, and thus soon everything will turn out write.

He does not complain and instead patiently wait for the day that everyone will recognized them as part of America and eventually see how wonderful and beautiful they are as an integral part of the country. As Ginsberg’s work presented hopelessness to the present system, Hughes poem is a picture of great expectations as he viewed a better society for the American people.


Foster, E. H. (1992). Understanding the Beats. South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press.

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