How does Langston Hughes's tribute to Walt Whitman compare with his tribute to Frederick Douglass?"Old Walt" is the tribute to Walt Whitman. "Frederick Douglass: 1817-1895" is the poetic tribute to...
How does Langston Hughes's tribute to Walt Whitman compare with his tribute to Frederick Douglass?
"Old Walt" is the tribute to Walt Whitman.
"Frederick Douglass: 1817-1895" is the poetic tribute to Frederick Douglass.
"Old Walt" presents a picture of a man (Walt Whitman) who Hughes greatly admired. According to the poem, what he admired most was the process by which Whitman composed his verse and prose: he asked questions and looked for answers. He had more questions than answers, but enjoyed the searching as much as the "finding" of those answers. The poem uses words artfully, like a brain teaser, to pay tribute to Walt Whitman.
However, the tone in "Frederick Douglass: 1817-1895" is much more passionate, expressing a much deeper and broader appreciation of all the man was able to achieve in his life: beyond writing, Douglass stood up to the world to achieve freedom and equality for all blacks. Hughes uses not only beautiful details, but he captures the majesty of the work that Douglass did: how he spoke, how he fought without taking up arms, and how he changed the world by his example.
Both poems praise the man who is described, but Hughes' poem about Frederick Douglass, I find, is a much more moving tribute than "Old Walt."