Langston Hughes and his Blues

Something particularly amazing about poetry is that it has the ability to actually transport you to a different time and place. It’s like having your very own TARDIS, or time machine. With each word you make the journey in your mind, and the pieces of whatever scene you’re reading all fall in place. I fell in love with today’s poem when I was in 10th grade English class. I used to read my English textbook when I was bored, and so one day I stumbled upon this poem, and a little biography of Langston Hughes. I was vividly fascinated by the poem, and equally as fascinated by Hughes. I thought it insanely cool that while working as a busboy in Washington D.C, he slipped some of his poems in the pocket of a poet he rocognized, and was thus discovered as a poet and published by Knopf! And the poem, well, I’ll let you guys see for yourselves.

 

The Weary Blues

Langston Hughes

Droning a drowsy 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
He did a lazy sway . . .
He did a lazy sway . . .

To the tune o’ those Weary Blues.
With his ebony hands on each ivory key
He made that poor piano moan with melody.
O Blues!
Swaying to and fro on his rickety stool
He played that sad raggy tune like a musical fool.
Sweet Blues!
Coming from a black man’s soul.
O Blues!
In a deep song 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, 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.

 

Could you see it? Could you see the old man swaying to and fro? Did you smell the smoke slowly swirling from the cigarettes of haggard workers, half listening to the music? Did you hear his song? Hughes did that. He made sure to write the experiences and perceptions of his people exactly as they were. And I thank him for that.

Putting all the Blues music on repeat,

Kaela Castro

Poetry of Thought

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