Study Guide

Democracy Stanza 2

By Langston Hughes

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Stanza 2

Lines 5-9

I have as much right
As the other fellow has
To stand
On my two feet
And own the land.

  • By the second stanza, we get a sense of the speaker some more and the voice he's choosing to go with. The "I" in line 5 tells us this poem is coming to us from a first-person point of view, but we also feel as if his message isn't so personal that we can't relate to it. We (hopefully) all have two feet and the right to own land if we can afford it.
  • So although it's in first-person, the poem is also generalized enough for all people to identify with, since the speaker still hasn't zeroed in on a particular time or place.
  • The ambiguity in words like "right," "fellow," "feet," and "the land" therefore keeps everything open for interpretation, lending its message to all who apply. The short line breaks also give us a moment to absorb the words and ideas in our own way.
  • And again we're noticing another perfect rhyme in lines 3 and 5: "stand" and "land." Notice, though, that we don't have a prescribed rhyme scheme. This is a modern poem, so rhymes (just like freedom) can be here, there, and everywhere. Don't forget to check out "Form and Meter" for more on the technique behind this poem.
  • We're also picking up on the kind of figurative language the speaker is using, as sparse as it may be in this poem. The idea of standing on two feet is a not meant literally. It's a metaphor that gives us a sense of autonomy (making decisions for oneself) and independence. Owning the land likewise furthers this sense of independence by offering the opportunity to physically create a life for oneself. 
  • So, although things are looking generalized, we notice that the speaker is doing so in order to be poignant and purposeful in the words and images he chooses to use. We're allowed to fill in the blanks for ourselves, which is kind of what freedom is all about.

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