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Langston Hughes’s Ballads (1937-1942) Part I of II Interrupting, Langston Hughes exclaimed: --It’s not only that. Rather, we know how mankind’s great movements.

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Presentation on theme: "Langston Hughes’s Ballads (1937-1942) Part I of II Interrupting, Langston Hughes exclaimed: --It’s not only that. Rather, we know how mankind’s great movements."— Presentation transcript:

1 Langston Hughes’s Ballads (1937-1942) Part I of II Interrupting, Langston Hughes exclaimed: --It’s not only that. Rather, we know how mankind’s great movements always introduce a concomitant artistic movement, principally literary. The war in Spain has an enormous dramatic force, really, but the social transformation that is underway as a result of that war is still more profound. Moreover, it’s a transformation that has worked enough already to propel a people towards the conquest of their liberty. I believe that, for now, we cannot forsake traditional forms. They’re the ones the people know, and hence the best vehicle to broadcast a new unrest. On the other hand, two elements have to be weaved together, form and content. It’s always good to talk to the people in a voice that doesn’t alarm them.

2 A Vexing Dual Mandate Why had I come to Spain? To write for the colored press. I knew that Spain once belonged to the Moors, a colored people ranging from light dark to white. Now the Moors have come again to Spain with the fascist armies as cannon fodder for Franco. But, on the loyalist side there are many colored peoples of various nationalities in the International Brigades. I want to write about both Moors and colored people.

3 Pan-Africanism Du Bois and Diaspora W.E.B. Du Bois 1868-1963

4 The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain: The Aesthetic Manifesto for Black Nationalism Let the blare of Negro jazz bands and the bellowing voice of Bessie Smith singing Blues penetrate the closed ears of the colored near-intellectuals until they listen and perhaps understand. Let Paul Robeson singing Water Boy, and Rudolph Fisher writing about the streets of Harlem, and Jean Toomer holding the heart of Georgia in his hands, and Aaron Douglas drawing strange black fantasies cause the smug Negro middle class to turn from their white, respectable, ordinary books and papers to catch a glimmer of their own beauty. We younger Negro artists who create now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, it doesn't matter. We know we are beautiful. And ugly too. The tom-tom cries and the tom-tom laughs. If colored people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, their displeasure doesn't matter either. We build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how, and we stand on top of the mountain, free within ourselves.

5 Langston Hughes, the great, U.S. black poet is with us in Madrid at the Alianza. All of the delicacy, all of the sad grace, all of the force of his repressed race emanate from his unaffected verse which is loved and recited not only by the blacks in his country, but also by writers and readers who have valorized it the world over. Langston, who came to Spain as a delegate to the Second International Writers Congress, will stay here for some time filling himself with the heroic spirit of our people, publicizing, in more than three hundred newspapers of his brothers in color and blood the cause of Liberty, Justice, and Human Dignity. Rafael Alberti Alberti Frames Hughes for Spain

6 The English Popular and Literary Ballad 1)The fixed form Ballade described above is easily confused with the large number of poems described simply as ballads. The folk ballad, also called the standard ballad, 'tells a compact tale in a style that achieves bold, sensational effects through deliberate starkness and abruptness' (Merriam-Webster). There are a number of commonly used devices, one of which is the frequent repetition of some key word, line or phrase. This form was first recorded in a collection that dates from 1300, and is earlier than that, although almost certainly not earlier than 1100. 2)The anonymous folk ballad (or popular ballad), was composed to be sung. It was passed along orally from singer to singer, from generation to generation, and from one region to another. During this progression a particular ballad would undergo many changes in both words and tune. The medieval or Elizabethan ballad that appears in print today is probably only one version of many variant forms. 3)Primarily based on an older legend or romance, this type of ballad is usually a short, simple song that tells a quasi-historical or dramatic story through dialogue and action, briefly alluding to what has gone before and devoting little attention to depth of character, setting, or moral commentary. It uses simple language, an economy of words, dramatic contrasts, epithets, set phrases, and frequently a stock refrain. The familiar stanza form is four lines, with four or three stresses alternating and with the second and fourth lines rhyming. For example: 4)The later, 'literary ballad' does not have the impersonal characteristics of the folk ballad, but calls attention to itself and to its composer. The literary ballad is a narrative poem created by a poet in imitation of the old anonymous folk ballad. Usually the literary ballad is more elaborate and complex; the poet may retain only some of the devices and conventions of the older verse narrative. Literary ballads were quite popular in England during the 19th cent. Examples of the form are found in Keats's “La Belle Dame sans Merci,” Coleridge's “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” and Oscar Wilde's “The Ballad of Reading Gaol.” In music a ballad refers to a simple, often sentimental, song, not usually a folk song. 5)The most common meter in English ballads consists of iambic lines of seven accents, with a two-line stanza, called the ballad stanza. However, this is usually printed in four-line stanzas, rhyming abab (popular) abcb (literary), with lines one and three tetrameters and lines two and four trimeters. “An Outlandish Knight” An outlandish knight came from the northlands; And he came wooing to me; He said he would take me to foreign lands And he would marry me. Go fetch me some of your father's gold, And some of your mother's fee, And two of the best nags from out of the stable, Where there stand thirty and three. She mounted upon her milkwhite steed, And he on his dapple grey; They rode till they came unto the seaside, Three hours before it was day.

7 Hughes’s Early Ballads Popular Front Poetics and the Folk/Protest Ballad Ozzie Powell and Scottsboro Roy Wright, Eugene Williams, Andy Wright, Haywood Patterson, Olin Montgomery, Willie Roberson, Ozzie Powell, Charles Weems, and Clarence Norris. Nine African-Americans aged between 12 and 21, became known as the Scottsboro Boys during one of the greatest and most protracted miscarriages of justice ever to take place in Alabama, or indeed the United States. On March 25, 1931 the nine young men were "hobo riding" a freight train from Chattanooga, Tennessee, which was headed to Memphis. A fight broke out between some white boys and some of the boys, shortly after the train passed into Alabama. The result was that the white boys were put off the train. Word was sent ahead to Paint Rock, where the train was stopped by an angry mob and the boys were arrested for assault, roped together and taken to Jackson County jail in Scottsboro. Later, two young white women from Huntsville, Ruby Bates and Victoria Price, who had also come off the same train, claimed that they had been raped. Bates said that she had been raped by three of the boys and Price, a local prostitute said that she had been raped by six. That night a mob gathered outside the jail looking for a good old-fashioned lynching, and the governor had to call in the National Guard to protect the jail. June 22, Patterson's conviction was set aside and he was granted a new trial. On October 20, the cases were moved to the court of Judge William Callahan. The trials of the youngest two, Roy Wright and Eugene Williams were transferred to juvenile court. Haywood Patterson and Clarence Norris were tried before Judge Callahan for rape, convicted and sentenced to death. In January 1936, Patterson was once again found guilty of rape, this time however, he was sentenced to 75 years in prison. The following day, while being escorted back to jail, Ozzie Powell slashed the throat of a deputy, Sheriff Jay Sandlin shot Powell in the head but both he and the deputy survived.

8 Langston Hughes to Arna Bontemps June 9, 1951 June 9, 1951 Dear Arna: The pictures will take about ten days, come to about $11.25 for a hundred. Would have been less if you had had a negative.[….] Meanwhile I’ve done a few little things anyhow—two articles for DIGEST. Revised with Lorca’s brother last night his ROMANCERO which Beloit College Poetry Journal is going to publish in the fall as their First Anniversary Issue, also in Chap Book form. The poems are really beautiful. Wish I had written them myself, not just translated them.

9 Poetry of Revolution(s) and Diaspora Lessons from Lorca 1)Poetic Intervention into the Folk/ Fusing Folk Forms and High Art 2)Lorca’s “Retable” What is the Colored Retable of Andalusia? Drawing upon multiple texts, cosmologies, and eras to paint a portrait of a heterogeneous whole. 3)Shadow of Narration/Time continuum 4)An ethics of translation that, in turn, informs Hughes’s vision of Pan-Africanism and/or Diaspora

10 EDITORIAL ROOMS of THE CRISIS 69 FIFTH AVENUE W.E. BURGHARDT DU BOIS NEW YORK. N.Y. EDITOE January 31, 1929 My dear Mr. Hughes: You perhaps know that at the Fourth Pan African Congress held in New York a Committee was appointed to call a Fifth Congress. As chairman of this committee, I have been in correspondence with representatives of the French Government, and particularly with Gratien Gandace, member of the French Parliament from Guadeloupe, who was President of the Third Pan African Congress. With the cordial cooperation of the French Government, it is proposed that a Fifth Pan African congress be held in North Africa in December, 1929. For this purpose, a French Travel Agency proposes to arrange an itinerary which should carry us in our own boat from New York to France, and then furnish a tour from Paris to Marseilles, and from Marseilles to Tunis, Algiers and Morocco, returning again from France in our steamer. I am enclosing some documents which show details concerning this trip. Will you kindly look them over? In order to arrange such a trip, we shall need a minimum of 250 persons. Could you be one of these persons? Would any member of your family be able to accompany you? Can you send me a list of your personal friends whom I could invite to join us? We want, of course, congenial people who will be able to meet the representatives of the best people of African descent and of the representatives of the French nation. Very sincererly yours W.E.B. Dubois W.E. Burghardt Du Bois Pan-African Translation

11 Hughes’s “Fool Proof” Translation

12 Translation and Witnessing It is a strange appointment, from which the witness-appointee cannot relieve himself by any delegation, substitution, or representation [….] To bear witness is to bear the solitude of a responsibility, and to bear the responsibility, precisely of that solitude [….] And yet, the appointment to bear witness is paradoxically enough, an appointment to transgress the confines of that isolated stance, to speak for and to others. The French philosopher Emmanuel Levinas can thus suggest that the witness’s speech is one which, by its very definition, transcends the witness who is but its medium, the medium of a realization of the testimony. “The witness,” writes Levinas, “testifies to what has been said through him. Because the witness has said, “‘here I am’ before the other.” By virtue of the fact that his testimony is addressed to others, the witness, from within the solitude of his own stance, is the vehicle of an occurrence, a reality, a stance or dimension beyond himself.” Shoshana Felman

13 “Fool proof” Translation I had a very pleasant and helpful visit with Lorca frere [sic] this evening---just back home. A very nice guy and most careful about the translations. We went through them thoroughly, comparing French and Italian versions of lines where shades of meaning are difficult. I doubt if any other versions of Lorca have had more checking and rechecking with former friends and relatives of the poet than these. I have just spent about four hours this evening with Francisco Garcia [sic] Lorca who is delighted that the Beloit Poetry Journal is publishing my translations of his brother’s poems from the ROMANCERO GITANO. He had let the official translator of the Lorca plays read them and had gotten an O.K. from him. And he himself had gone over them line for line with the original Spanish. Together we went over the poems again, correcting a few mistakes of my own in exact meaning, and improving on what Francisco felt to be his brother’s original meanings which he thought might not come across in my English renderings—largely matters of nuance, but certainly important, since we both wish to be as exact as possible in both the literal meanings and the emotional and musical shadings. I think the translations now are about as fool proof as we can make them in their rendering from Spanish into English.

14 Letter from Spain (1937) Ballad vs. Romancero

15 Letter from Spain (1937) Popular Front Poetics “The International Brigades were, of course, aware of the irony of the colonial Moors—victims themselves of oppression in North Africa—fighting against a Republic that had been seeking to work out a liberal policy toward Morocco. To try to express the feelings of some of the Negro fighting men in this regard, I wrote verses in the form of a letter from an American Negro in the Brigades to a relative in Dixie.” (Langston Hughes I Wonder as I Wander)

16 Letter from Spain (1937) Pan-Africanism, Circulation, Diaspora, Return

17 Letter from Spain (1937) The Epistolary Frame

18 Letter from Spain (1937): St. John

19 Letter from Spain (1937) The Ethics and Poetics of Translation and Internationalism

20 Letter from Spain (1937) “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”

21 Letter from Spain (1937) Hybrid Forms and Pan-African Heterogeneity

22 Letter from Spain (1937) Recap: A Colored “Retable” of Spain

23 Letter from Spain (1937) Othello Intertext Soft you; a word or two before you go I have done the state some service, and they know’t.— No more of that.—I pray you, in your letters, When you shall these unlucky deeds relate, Speak of me as I am; nothing extenuate, Nor set down aught in malice [….] Set you down this; And say besides, —that in Aleppo once, Where a malignant and a turban’d Turk Beat a Venetian and traduc’d the state, I took him by the throat the circumcised dog And smote him—thus. [stabs himself] (5.2.498-517)

24 Letter from Spain (1937) Hughsian Black Internationalism

25 “Ballad of the Sinner” Lines 1-12 Talking Points 1)Temporality and Narrative Clarity 2)Multiple Pasts 3)Verb Tenses: framing the literal and figural 4)Locale- Literal and figural 5)Time and Space

26 Ballad of the Sinner Lines 13-17 Talking Points 1)Ambiguous Referents 2)Time in Turmoil 3)Religious connotations and vacillations 4)Poly-vocal possibilities 5)The temporal, spatial, and moral location of the persona

27 The Influence of Being Translated Talking Points 1)The composite nature of Shakespeare in Harlem 2)The effect of cognizance of foreign presence (in translation) on poetic production 3)A dual impact?

28 The Machinery of African-American Literature and Its International Influence 1)Rowlandson and Marrant: The Literature of the Americas, Spiritual Autobiography and the Slave Narrative 2)Romanticism, Hugo, and Creole Voices: International Vogues and Their Local Incarnations 3)Brontë and Hopkins: Borrowing, blending, and reworking existing genres and their polemics to suit new agendas 4)Lorca, Langston,and Close-Global Reading: Translation and the effect of the New Negro’s internationalism (in belles lettres) on African American literary production

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