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The Weary Blues - Langston Huges

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Hanalei Lewine

on 12 December 2014

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Transcript of The Weary Blues - Langston Huges

About the Poet: Langston Hughes
The Weary Blues
role of music: rhythm, sound
figurative language
mood and tone
meaning: literal and figurative
Form and Language
About the Poet: Langston Hughes
African-American poet
Lived 1902-1967
Harlem Renaissance
The Weary Blues
won award
First book of poetry published in 1926
African-American themes & heritage
Used jazz rhythms and dialect
Poetry, prose, plays, newspaper
Urban, working-class black themes, addressing racial issues
The Weary Blues
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 5
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. 10
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. 15
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. 20
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 25
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.” 30
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. 35
Riccardo Felloni, Iris den Hartigh, Hanalei Lewine
The Weary Blues
- Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes
Form: two verses, 22, 13 lines
Language and Syntax
African American dialect
line 21: "gwine"
lines 19, 20, 31: "ain't"
line 29: "no mo'"
line 21, 22: "ma self", "ma frownin'"
Use of "..." in lines 6 and 7
"He did a lazy sway..."
Slowing Down Effect
Graham, Ruth. "The Weary Blues." Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation, n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2014.

"James Mercer Langston Hughes."
A&E Television Networks, 2014. Web. 17 Nov. 2014.
"The Harlem Rennaisance."
PBS, n.d. Web. 09 Dec. 2014.

Shmoop Editorial Team. "The Weary Blues Summary." Shmoop.com. Shmoop University, Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 12 Dec. 2014.
Figurative Language
line 1: "droning a drowsy syncopated tune"
line 13: "sad raggy tune"
line 23: "thump, thump, thump" <-onomatopoeia
singing, piano
line 2: "rocking back and forth"
line 6: "pale dull pallor of an old gas light"
line 9: "ebony hands"
Simile: line 35: "slept like a rock or a man that's dead"
line 10: "that poor piano moan"
line 13: "sad raggy tune"
line 23: "put ma troubles on the shelf"
lines 3 & 16: "I heard a/that Negro play/sing"
lines 6 & 7: "He did a lazy sway..."
lines 11, 14, 16: "O Blues!" "Sweet Blues!" "O Blues!"
lines 19 & 20: "ain't got nobody"
repetition of the title; lines 8, 25, 27, 34
Mood and Tone
Irregular rhyme scheme
Iambic pentameter
line 1: "Droning a drowsy syncopated tune"
line 6: "He did a lazy sway"
line 10: "He made that poor piano moan with melody"
Rhythm sounds musical throughout the whole poem
line 1: "Droning a drowsy syncopated tune"
lines 25-30 "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."
Begins with the speaker telling someone about a piano player he heard a few nights ago.
The passionate musician was playing a slow blues song, involving his body and soul throughout.
It is almost as if the speaker is intoxicated by the sad music.
At line 19, the first verse is shown. Though he is miserable, the musician sings about forcing his worries to the side - to forget for a little while.
The second verse, starting at line 25, is slightly more depressing. The musician sings "I aint happy no mo', "
The musician continues to play during the night.
Yet when he goes to sleep he sleeps like a dead person
Tone: poignant
"ain't happy no mo'/And I wish that I had died"
Mood: nostalgic
Suffering: -
line 25-30:
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.”

Language and communication: -
Both the speaker and musician are trying to let their emotions travel through and into the audience.
The musician expresses himself through body language, singing, and piano playing.
The speaker matches his own descriptive style with that of the musicians by shouting "O Blues!", repeating phrases and words, and including song lyrics.
Literal: the speaker watches/listens to a man playing the blues
Figurative: you can channel your pain, anger sadness, weariness into music, rather than suicide, drink or violence
the poem is very captivating because it is full of culture and interesting and powerful language
makes use of imagery, personification, repetition
chosen for its musicality and rhythm
Full transcript