Poetry is a form of communication which humans of all ages find soothing and even comforting. It goes far behind merely clever rhymes, with much of the great poetry having no rhyme at all. Poetry is generally meant to be read aloud, and it is the hypnotic effect of the sound that gives poetry its raw power.
Humans can enjoy poetry in a language they do not understand because of the sound it makes. Babies can be seen to grow quieter when having verse recited to them. Authors such as Dr. Seuss have always been aware of the phenomenon, obviously, which is why so much literature for children is written in verse.
The patterns and sound of the poem are jointly referred to as prosody. The rhythm and meter of the poem can produce a cadence, which, like music, can then produce a predictable response in the human psyche. Prosody is the poets’ stage direction, illustrating how the work is meant to be delivered.
Langston Hughes, like other great poets, uses all the tools in the poets’ arsenal to make the reader/listener see the vision which he chooses to present. Hughes’ work, A Raisin in the Sun is more direct than Let America Be America Again.
Where Raisin is a not so gentle warning to the rest of society as to what may happen if the present trend were to continue, America is ponderously laden with irony, saying that freedom is not freedom if it is not given to all equally.
The poem begins with quiet dignity, rehashing what the American dream is supposed to be, and then Hughes, through prosody, causes the intensity to build, to climb on the scale of irony and adds a touch of good old-fashioned righteous indignation.
The pitch of the poem seems to grow more strident as Hughes keeps repeating the operative line like a chant heard by rival fans at a sporting event. The listener can virtually feel the intensity grow and hear the volume increase, and this is done through the prosody of the work (Hughes 1938).
Hughes, L. Let America Be America Again HERE, IN THIS ORDER, LIST THE NAME OF YOUR TEXT BOOK, CITY OF PUBLICATION FOLLOWED BY COLON: THEN THE NAME OF THE PUBLISHER AND THE DATE.