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The Weary Blues Langston Hughes

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 8 months ago

 Langston Hughes

 

 

     

 

Langston Hughes writes a great deal about the genre of music known as jazz there are a number of works in which the asscoiation is implicit with such works as Jazzonia, The Weary Blues and other poems. There are also those works which are written in the distinct style of the music. Langston was known to frequent jazz clubs wherever he visited and expecailly enjoyed the Harlem scene. His appreciation of jazz emerges in his works as he sampled with using the distinct rhythms he heard by jazz artists and applying to the rhythm of his poetry. One of the more blarring examples of this is present in his poem, "The Weary Blues".  This poem has a rhythm to it that is expressed by his word choice. The dialectic mixing of hard syllables and repetition of certain phrases are strategically placed so as to mimic a song. As he writes, "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./Oh Blues!"(HRR 260). In these lines we see that he ties literal music to the performer on his stool but also completes the image with his own statement about how the music makes him feel as well. This intertwining of musician and listener is important to the happenings in Harlem at the time. The Harlem Renaissance was as much a shared voice as it was a creative expression by individuals. The shared consciousness taps back into the notion of a shared racial consciousness. It is being tapped into and comes from the soul, the black man's soul to be exact. Additionally, we see the way that Langston Hughes shares the limelight with jazz music. By writing about it as he has done, he has also legitimized its presence in the African-American identity.

 

Taking a closer look at the title, we see that there are direct ties to the song "Weary Blues" by Louis Armstrong and his Hot Seven If you listen to this song, you will hear the song as bright in tone, the song isn't depressing as the title may suggest. But at the same time you can hear a dialogue that occurs between the players and their instruments. This was history in the makign especailly when we consider the shadow that his work casts on the music of today. Langston Hughes made no mistake when he recognized the true value of what Louis Armstrong and his jazz contemporaries were working on during the Harlem Renaissance. The arts and literature of the Harlem Renaissance are what helped to give it the power and impact that it did. It is a strong part of American history and came to fruition during the 1920-1930's.

 

 

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This is a video rendition of Langston Hughes' poem, "The Weary Blues" set to music and with video from the times.

 

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