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Langston Hughes the Weary Blues Analysis

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Autor:   •  December 3, 2011  •  Essay  •  398 Words (2 Pages)  •  2,726 Views

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Langston Hughes was an African American poet, activist and author of literary works. He is highly regarded for his work during the Harlem Renaissance. He was one of the first innovators in jazz poetry during that cultural movement in the 30s. One of his most obvious works in that genre would be The Wear Blues, written in 1923. It shows a lot of references to music, capturing both in rhythm and tone the feel of early blues and jazz, and shows the complicity between the musician and the listener.

Firstly, there is an omnipresence of music as a theme in Hughes' poem. Some particular words bring a certain rhythm to this work. The alliteration in the beginning coupled with the long O sounds of the words and the hard syllables afterwards give us a kind of rhythmic syncopated tone, rocking back and forth with the way the bluesman sings. Much like the O's in the first sentence, the A's in "He did a lazy sway" brings a rhythmic factor to the piece and, coupled with repetition, it is even more prevalent. "Thump, thump, thump" is an onomatopoeia which describes the sound the bluesman's foot on the floor but also the tempo he uses to play his instrument.

Secondly, there is a sense of community and complicity between the musician, narrator and audience. In the last paragraph, I demonstrated how the poem itself has a "rocking back and forth" feeling about it, much like the song and the bluesman himself; but the audience too has the same feeling about it and all of them are quite hard to differentiate from one another. In the first few lines, the narrator describes the action much like he is the musician himself and then goes on to say that "[he] heard a negro play" which destroys that view. Also, the speaker, which is one of the spectators, know how the bluesman feels ("The singer stopped playing and went to bed, while the Weary Blues echoed through his head"). This shows that there is a complicity in blues, a duality between the performer and the audience, a communal experience.

In conclusion, Langston Hughes' poem represents in a flawless manner the rhythm and musicality of the blues but also the feeling of dread and melancholy it has with its interesting tone and word selection. It also describes the connection blues creates between the musician and the audience.


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