Langston Hughes’ Dates: born 1902., died 1967 He was met with racial discrimination in college after being enrolled in Colombia University and denied a dormitory room at in 1921. Left Columbia after his first year due to boredom which led to depression Moved to Harlem where he became involved in the Harlem Renaissance
The Harlem Renaissance was a period during the early twentieth century when black culture thrived across the country. The Harlem District of New York City, predominantly African American, was the “capital” of the movement. Hughes’ poetry during this movement earned him recognition as “The Poet Laureate of Black America”.
Droning a drowsy (Alliteration) syncopated tune, Rocking back and forth to a mellow croon, I heard a Negro play. Down on Lenox Avenue the other night By the pale dull pallor of an old gas light (Imagery) He did a lazy sway... To the tune o' those Weary Blues. With his ebony hands on each ivory key (Imagery) He made that poor piano moan with melody. (Personification) O Blues!
Swaying to and fro on his rickety stool He played that sad raggy tune like a musical fool. (Enjambment) Sweet Blues! Coming from a black man's soul. O Blues! In a deep song (Allusion) voice with a melancholy tone I heard that Negro sing, that old piano moan— "Ain't got nobody in all this world, Ain't got nobody but ma self. I's gwine to quit ma frownin' And put ma troubles on the shelf."
Thump, thump, thump, ( Onomatopoeia) went his foot on the floor. He played a few chords then he sang some more "I got the Weary Blues - And I can't be satisfied. Got the Weary Blues- And can't be satisfied— I ain't happy no mo' And I wish that I had died.” And far into the night he crooned that tune. The stars went out and so did the moon. The singer stopped playing and went to bed While the Weary Blues echoed through his head.He slept like a rock or a man that's dead.
Droning a drowsy syncopated tune - Sets up the overall melancholy mood of the poem By the pale dull pallor of an old gas light - Imagery adds to the mood With his ebony hands on each ivory key - Imagery and irony express the racial tensions of the time In a deep song voice with a melancholy tone - “Deep Song” is probably an allusion to Hughes’ early poem “The Negro Speaks Rivers”
Expresses feelings of marginalization that many African Americans shared during the 20’s An attempt to urge African Americans to remember the richness of their culture by alluding to “The Negro Speaks Rivers” Hughes posits that while African Americans are marginalized they can be lonely together and form a community.
“The alienation and despair offer a bitter critique of black life in white America” (Wall 3). “The poem depicts a black musician who plays his song ironically on the piano’s white keys, creating a heightened moment that purges him, as well as the listener and reader from human suffering” (Miller 7).
Hughes, Langston. 1926. The Weary Blues. New York: Knopf. Miller, R. Baxter. “(James) Langston Hughes.” American Poets, 1880-1945: Second Series. Ed. Peter Quartermain. Detroit: Gale Research, 1986. Dictionary of Literary Biography Vol. 48. Literature Resource Center. Web. 16 Apr. 2013. Wall, Cheryl A. “A Note on ‘The Weary Blues’”. Lenox Avenue: A Journal of Interarts Inquiry Vol. 3. Chicago: Center for Black Music Research – Columbia College Chicago, 1997. JSTOR. Web. 24 Apr. 2013.