University of South Florida The Weary Blues Poem Analysis

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A rhyme scheme is the pattern of rhymes at the end of each line of a poem or song. It is usually referred to by using letters to indicate which lines rhyme; lines designated with the same letter all rhyme with each other.

An example of the ABAB rhyming scheme, from "To Anthea, who may Command him Anything", by Robert Herrick:

Bid me to weep, and I will weep - A
While I have eyes to see - B
And having none, yet I will keep - A
A heart to weep for thee - B

So you can have multiple rhyme schemes in poetry- AAB, ABAB, AABB etc depending on the rhyme scheme of the last word.

Remember, if the lines end with no rhyme or pattern, they are usually considered Free Verse

Historical context:

The Harlem Renaissance was the name given to the cultural, social, and artistic explosion that took place in Harlem between the end of World War I and the middle of the 1940s. During this period Harlem was a cultural center, drawing black writers, artists, musicians, photographers, poets, and scholars.Many had come from the South, fleeing its oppressive Jim Crow system in order to find a place where they could freely express their talents. The most powerful black protest against Jim Crow may have been the so called Great Migration of the World War I era.

In 1917 and 1918, some 400,000 African Americans left the rural South. They headed north hoping to escape poverty and racial discrimination. They were drawn by opportunities in the booming wartime factories of the North. The great migration, according to an observer, constituted nothing less than a "veritable mass movement," an "exodus [on an] unprecedented scale." To be clear, life was far from perfect for African Americans in the North. Residential segregation and racial discrimination were facts of life in northern cities. And yet, many African Americans still considered the North to be, in the words of a black newspaper, a “land of promise.”

Harlem was the Mecca to which black writers, artists, musicians, photographers, poets, and scholars traveled. It involved racial pride, fueled in part by the militancy of the "New Negro" demanding civil and political rights. The Renaissance incorporated jazz and the blues, attracting whites to Harlem speakeasies, where interracial couples danced. But the Renaissance had little impact on breaking down the rigid barriers of Jim Crow that separated the races. While it may have contributed to a certain relaxation of racial attitudes among young whites, perhaps its greatest impact was to reinforce race pride among blacks.

The Harlem Renaissance ushered in a time of many renewed firsts for African Americans in publishing: Langston Hughes, a central figure of the movement, published his first poem, “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” in the June 1921 of The Crisis. Langston Hughes was a central figure in the Harlem Renaissance, the flowering of black intellectual, literary, and artistic life that took place in the 1920s in a number of American cities, particularly Harlem. A major poet, Hughes also wrote novels, short stories, essays, and plays. He sought to honestly portray the joys and hardships of working-class black lives, avoiding both sentimental idealization and negative stereotypes. As he wrote in his essay The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain, “We younger Negro artists who create now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased we are glad. If they are not, it doesn’t matter. We know we are beautiful. And ugly too.”

Hughes, more than any other black poet or writer, recorded faithfully the nuances of black life and its frustrations. In Hughes’s own words, his poetry is about "workers, roustabouts, and singers, and job hunters on Lenox Avenue in New York, or Seventh Street in Washington or South State in Chicago—people up today and down tomorrow, working this week and fired the next, beaten and baffled, but determined not to be wholly beaten, buying furniture on the installment plan, filling the house with roomers to help pay the rent, hoping to get a new suit for Easter—and pawning that suit before the Fourth of July." Although Hughes had trouble with both black and white critics, he was the first black American to earn his living solely from his writing and public lectures. Part of the reason he was able to do this was the phenomenal acceptance and love he received from average black people.

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Name:_______________________________________________________________________ Poetry Author:_______________________________________________________________________ Title:_________________________________________________________________________ Type of poetry (narrative, dramatic, lyric)_______________________________________ The poem’s form (physical structure of the poem – meter and rhyme scheme or is it free verse) ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ The poem’s meaning Metaphor (comparison between two things that states one thing is another, in order help explain an idea or show hidden similarities)____________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ Symbols______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ Other imagery ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ The story or poem’s elements Plot__________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ Characters_____________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ Conflict_______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ Setting________________________________________________________________________ Theme (main idea or an underlying meaning of a literary work)_________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ Narrative point of view (first person , third person singular, third person omniscient – can vary) ______________________________________________________________________________ Tone (atmosphere, how story is presented, feeling of the story/poem)____________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ The author – individual style, other major works, biographical context ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ The context – why did the author feel compelled to write this - social, historical, political, religious ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ Your interpretation – what you like, what you think, what you feel ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ "The Weary Blues" is a poem by American poet Langston Hughes. Written in 1925, "The Weary Blues" was first published in the National Urban League magazine, Opportunity. It was awarded the magazine's prize for best poem of the year. The Weary Blues (1925) By Langston Hughes: Droning a drowsy syncopated tune, “Ain’t got nobody in all this world, Rocking back and forth to a mellow croon, Ain’t got nobody but ma self. I heard a Negro play. I’s gwine to quit ma frownin’ Down on Lenox Avenue the other night And put ma troubles on the shelf.” By the pale dull pallor of an old gas light He did a lazy sway. . . . He did a lazy sway. . . . Thump, thump, thump, went his foot on the floor. To the tune o’ those Weary Blues. He played a few chords then he sang some more— With his ebony hands on each ivory key “I got the Weary Blues He made that poor piano moan with melody. And I can’t be satisfied. O Blues! Got the Weary Blues Swaying to and fro on his rickety stool And can’t be satisfied— He played that sad raggy tune like a musical fool. I ain’t happy no mo’ 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— 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.
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Name: _______________________________________________________________________

Author: Langston Hughes
Title: The Weary Blues
Type of poetry (narrative, dramatic, lyric) Narrative
The poem’s form (physical structure of the poem – meter and rhyme scheme or is it free
The poem is in free verse with an irregular rhyme scheme resembling the ordinary designs of
speech and music. The poem does not have a steady or established meter. Some lines have many
syllables while some have extremely less.
The poem’s meaning Metaphor (comparison between two things that states one thing is
another, in order help explain an idea or show hidden similarities)
The poem talks about the power and the suffering endured by the Negro. It describes a
black singer performing in a bar in the Harlem late at night. The music outlines the pain Negros
go through while living in a society full of racism. The music is a relief for the speaker since he
finds it soothing and even comforting to transform such sorrow into a song. Compared to
speaker, the singer doesn’t share similar feelings. Channeling so much pain and suffering is very
exhausting to the singer himself. C...

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