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Daybreak in Alabama is a free-verse poem by Langston Hughes, a poet living in a

racially-divided society during the Harlem Renaissance. In his poem, the speaker is a child
describing what daybreak in Alabama would look like. Under the surface, however, this poem is
really about racial segregation and how it is unnatural. Using imagery, simile, and anaphora to
convey the wistful tone of a dreamer, the speaker also uses rhythm, anaphora, and imagery to
impart the moral of the poem, that what is natural is beautiful and right.
As the speaker outlines his hopes for the future as a composer, his wistful tone is evident
through his use of imagery, simile, and anaphora. He can already imagine daybreak in Alabama,
seeing his songs rise out of the ground like a swamp mist and falling out of heaven. The
concurrent use of simile and images of nature drives home the speakers desire to see his dream
come true. The and put at the beginning of six consecutive lines only reinforces the wistful
tone of the poem by showing how big the speakers dream is. Quite frankly, the speaker sounds
like a child looking out a window and staring at the sun, thinking of how he wants to be a
composer and write about daybreak in Alabama.
Under the surface, the real meaning of the poem is quite different, shown through
rhythm, imagery, and anaphora. Although this poem is free verse, the 14
th
lines rhythm sounds
as if it should be iambic pentameter. Instead, the speaker takes out the and between white
black white black people to call attention to the fact that there is no separation between black
and white. Here, the speaker first implies that there should not be racial segregation, applying
language to real life. Furthermore, with anaphora, also with the word and, he points out the
variation in nature. The speaker conjures up images of nature with pine needles and red clay
and field daisy eyes and many other different things. The pine needles and the red clay and the

other facets of nature are not separated, but mingled together in ordinary meadows. They are not
the same, either, as the racially divided, predominantly white society wishes to be. Nature comes
in all forms, shapes, and sizes, as humans do. However, by using imagery of different colors in
nature, the speaker implies that the segregation of human society into all white and all black is
unnatural. Humans should mingle, not kept apart and sorted according to race or skin color, just
as the speaker imagines when he wants white hands and black hands and brown and yellow
hands and red clay earth hands to touch everybody with kind fingers as natural as nature.
When daybreak in Alabama comes, the speaker seems to say that the sun will truly shine with
natures blessing when racial division comes to an end. The mingling of different races, like the
flowers of all shapes, colors, and sizes that crowd together in a grassy meadow, is beautiful, and
since this mingling naturally happens in nature, is both natural and right.
As a child dreaming about the future, the speaker implies that what is natural, such as the
mixing together of different things, is beautiful and right. The meaning is, of course, talking
about racial integration, and that the opposite, racial segregation, is unnatural. However, this
speaker seems to be living in a racially divided society, as Langston Hughes did, and so still
dreams, with the ever childlike wistful tone, of that far-off society of equality and kindness
toward all races. That dream will only come true when daybreak falls on the dark specter of
racism in Alabama.