Life is Fine by Langston Hughes; Summary and Analysis


The poem Life is Fine written by Langston Hughes is about a lover who has probably been deceived by his beloved (baby) and is thinking of committing suicide.

He tries twice to kill himself but reverts back by giving some reasons which reflect that he still has a will to live his life and ultimately he gives up the idea of killing himself by saying, Life is fine! Fine as wine! Life is fine!.

The poem consists of 6 stanzas but I have divided the poem broadly into two categories. In the first part, I discuss the ways in which he tries to kill himself yet fails. In the second part, I talk about how his mindset changes and he decides to live his life. Thus a complete change of mood.


Part 1: Attempts to Kill Himself

The poet or the lover says that he went to a river. He had probably been deceived by his beloved and is in depression. Thus he is under the influence of some trauma and has lost his thinking capability. As a result, he decides to end his life. He jumps into the river but soon comes out.

He tried again but still comes back and cries. The water is too cold for him which he cannot bear. According to him “If that water hadn’t a-been so cold I might’ve sunk and died”. He sighs, it was Cold in that water! It was cold! 

Again he thinks of killing himself and goes on the sixteenth floor of a building. He prepares to kill himself but the height frightens him and he decides not to jump. According to him “If that water hadn’t a-been so cold I might’ve sunk and died“. And he sighs again, it was High up there! It was high!

In spite of being in a depression, he retains his feelings. He is able to feel the coldness of the water and the height of the building. Thus his body is alive both physically and mentally. He just cries that expresses the intensity of his pain of the broken heart.

Part 2: Back to Life

The poet ultimately decides to keep himself alive. He regains his rationality and thinking capability that makes him say, for livin’ I was born. Thus in this line, it is clear the reason behind his desire for suicide was love (I could’ve died for love).

His beloved wanted to see him cry and die but he musters his courage and shows him that his Life is fine! Fine as wine! Life is fine!

The poem in a way describes the journey of a man from the near-death to hope and ultimately a new life. It is a journey from I tried to think but couldn’t to for livin’ I was born i.e. from depression to recovery.

In the end, the poet or lover realizes that living his life in a better way without her is the best revenge rather than killing himself which instead could have been a victory for the beloved. Please refer to this site to read further.