Lesson 14


Analyze the effect of contrast in a poem.

Explain how Kemp and Hughes develop themes in their poems.

Readings and Materials

Target Task


In “I Sing the Battle” by Harry Kemp and “Let America Be America Again,” by Langston Hughes explain how both poets develop the themes in their poems. 

Key Questions


Read “I Sing the Battle.”

  • Why is every other line contained in quotation marks? 
  • How does the poet develop the tone in this poem?
  • What is the theme of this poem? In other words, what universal message is this poet trying to convey? Explain your answer using evidence from the text.

In “Let America Be America Again” by Langston Hughes:

  • What is the purpose of the stanzas in parentheses? 
  • Compare the different tones of the stanzas outside and inside the parentheses in the first half of the poem. Explain using evidence from text. 
  • What is the tone in the last stanza? Which diction makes you think that? 
  • What is the theme of this poem? Explain your answer using evidence from the text.



This is a good lesson to spiral in questions about figurative language, alliteration, imagery, and mood. 

Common Core Standards

  • RL.6.2 — Determine a theme or central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.