Free verse is verse with no discernable structure, rhyme scheme, or meter. Free verse allows the poet to fit the poetic line to the content of the poem. The poet is not restricted by the need to shape the poem to a particular meter but can instead create a varied or irregular rhythm and syntax, or sentence structure. Free verse is not the same as blank verse, which also does not use a rhyme scheme. Blank verse almost always adheres to iambic pentameter, while free verse relies on line breaks to create a rhythm.
Free verse was a popular style of poetic composition in the twentieth century and it was not uncommon for poets of Hughs’s time to compose in free verse. Whitman, to whom Hughes responds in this poem, is sometimes called the father of free verse. There is no pattern of formal rhyme or meter to ‘‘I, Too’’ and, instead, the irregular line breaks give the poem a songlike rhythm that is most pronounced when the poem is read aloud. Over the course of his career, Hughes was renowned for the musicality of his verse. Many of the poems published alongside ‘‘I, Too’’ in The Weary Blues are songs.
A metaphor is an analogy that identifies one object with another and ascribes to one object the qualities of a second object. A metaphor can also be an object used to represent an idea. The metaphor may be simple, as with a single comparison, or extended, where one object is central to the meaning of the work. For example, the table in Hughes’s poem represents status, power, and opportunity, which the darker brother is denied by being relegated to the kitchen. The kitchen represents segregation and lack of opportunity. When blacks sit at the same table as whites, true equality will result.
Poetry for Students, Presenting Analysis, Context, and Criticism on Commonly Studied Poetry, Volume 30, Langston Hughes, Gale Cengage Learning, 2009