The largest part of Hughes's poetic production during the 1930s was his"revolutionary poetry," often seen as his weakest or strongest work according tothe political bent of the critic. Given the anti-communism that has dominated Americanintellectual life since the 1940s, the predominant critical view has been that these poemsare among Hughes's slightest. (As we shall see, critics associated with the Communist Leftin the 1930s often did not value Hughes's work much more than the anti-Communist critics.)Few of these scholars who dismiss Hughes's work of the 1930s consider the poetry formallyin any specific way. (For that matter, the proponents of Hughes's revolutionary poemsrarely consider formal questions, either.) All in all these critics seem to accept theassumption that has been frequently attributed to intellectuals and artists most closelyconnected with the CPUSA: that the form of the revolutionary poem is, or should be,transparent, allowing the clear viewing of the message or "line." This poetry isseen as beyond form, but somehow filled with an unmediated, and generally false,meaning--to read one of these poems is to read them all. In short, such poetry issloganeering and a slogan, as everyone knows, is inherently uninteresting except perhapssociologically.
Indeed, it was in the 1930s that poetry was accepted as having to do with everything. 'Poetry,' said W H Auden, 'is memorable speech' - about what? Everything; anything. Birth, death, hatred, fear, the delights and miseries of desire, the prosperity of unjust people and the misery of many just ones, triumphs, earthquakes, boredom and anxiety, terror, despair... When Auden said that all the things we remember, 'no matter how trivial, are equally the subject of poetry', he also meant that they can be used to convey ideas and feelings about things that aren't trivial at all.
'Poetry,' said Roy Fuller, 'is a succinct art: readers must let it expand in their understanding'. In the 1930s poems began to do what they do best: shine light, from different angles, on things that should not always be kept in the dark. But they have to be given time to work in the mind, as it, so to speak, adjusts itself to the light.