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Beale Street Love

Beale Street Love


by Langston Hughes

Analysis: Form and Meter

We spent hours digging, and we could not come up with a single rhyme. We mean it, we were out there all night, rooting through the poem with our picks and shovels, headlamps on, and no meter showed up either. That settles it. This poem is free verse, all the way. Not a pattern to be found.

However, we can't help but notice how its compact form makes it look like a fist. Even though it has seven lines (which is two too many to make each line correspond to a finger), the way that it tapers off at the beginning and the end, with the bulk in the middle, really gives it the shape of a clenched hand. The thumb? "Love" (line 1), of course.

Add to that the no-nonsense, hard-hitting rhythm of the poem—like in the line "hit me again," and you've got a poem with a form that fits its content. There's no reason to bother with a fancy, prescribed poetic form when you're dealing with the cold hard truth of violence and love.

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