April Rain Song Analysis by Langston Hughes

This analysis of  ‘April Rain Song’ by Langston Hughes is divided into three parts –rhyme scheme, rhetorical devices, and deeper meaning.

Rhyme Scheme: ‘April Rain Song’ seems to be the simplest of the poems written by Langston Hughes. One reason for its apparent simplicity is its rhyme scheme, or rather, its lack of any identifiable rhyme scheme. It is written in free verse. This gives it a sing-song rhythm, and an incantatory quality. It thus mimics the sound of a lullaby, just as it suggests that the song of the rain also sounds like a lullaby. This correlation between the form and the content of the poem is a stylistic innovation that deserves our critical attention to, and appreciation of, Langston Hughes’ acclaimed poetic skills.

Rhetorical Devices: This poem analysis would be incomplete without mentioning the rhetorical devices put into use by Hughes in ‘April Rain Song’ which contribute significantly to the charm of reading the poem aloud. The first rhetorical device used by Hughes is personification. Personification is a rhetorical device that is used to endow a non-living thing with human qualities. Throughout this poem, Hughes has personified the rain by giving it an agency like the one possessed by human beings. Thus the rain is said to be working of its own accord when it kisses the African-Americans, when it comes down forcefully on their heads and the tops of their roofs, when it lulls them to sleep with its lullaby-like song, and when it creates pools on the roads and in the gutters.

The second rhetorical device used by Hughes is anaphora. This rhetorical device is used when the openings of multiple sentences occur with the help of the same set of words. For example, it is used in ‘April Rain Song’ when Hughes begins the first, second, and third lines of this poem with the same words, that is, “Let the rain”. Hughes also uses this rhetorical device when he begins both the fourth and fifth lines of this poem with the same words, that is, “The rain makes”. These repetitions lend the poem its sing-song rhythm, and make it an enjoyable read.

Deeper Meaning: This part of the poem explanation focuses on how ‘April Rain Song’ may appear to be a simple poem at its surface from a single reading of its content, but how it has a hidden layer of meaning beneath. This interpretation may seem to be purely speculative in nature, but there is ample evidence in the poetry of Langston Hughes to suggest that he always brings in references to African-American life in some way or the other – whether such references are explicit or implicit. If this is taken to be true, then ‘April Rain Song’ can be read as an allegory of the resilience of the African-American community. The African-Americans bear the discrimination and oppression meted out to them by the mainstream white society with patience, and learn to accept it as a part and parcel of their lives. This kind of treatment can cause calamities in their lives like a flood. However, a common adage says that every cloud has a silver lining. Hence Langston Hughes and his fellow African-Americans keep searching for this silver lining, and mostly manage to find it too. This community is united in their efforts to imagine a brighter future for their children, and their children’s children, and so on, and hang out to the hope of such a future to get through the day. Hughes acknowledges his kinship with his community in this poem, and admires them for their sage-like calmness in dealing with a life that others would perhaps be extremely unhappy with.

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