Who Is Langston Hughes's 'The Weary Blues'?

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A Poetic Piece Infused with Jazz: The Weary Blues by Langston Hughes, (1926) During the late 1920’s a movement known as the Harlem Renaissance surfaced, based in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City. This movement sparked a return to African American creativity. It brought to light many noteworthy African American literary figures and produced many profound works that are considered masterpieces over ninety years later. One literary standout of that time was Langston Hughes. His piece, The Weary Blues, was especially notable because it crossed lines, never crossed before. The history of Langston Hughes, the history of the piece in itself and its representation of the jazz poetry genre is noteworthy and worth considering. Born James…show more content…
He got his “big break” so to speak while working as a busboy at the Wardman Park Hotel. The book explained that, “It was there that Vachel Lindsay read some of his poem and Hughes (as he recalled) ‘was discovered by the newspapers.’” The text went on to state that, “He received his first prize for poetry in 1925 from Opportunity magazine and went on to become a major figure of the Harlem Renaissance.” (Chapman 97) His interrupted education was carried on at Lincoln University, “…where he wrote his first novel, Not Without Laughter…show more content…
In his piece, The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain (1926), Hughes states, “Most of my own poems are racial in theme and treatment, derived from the life I know. In many of them I try to grasp and hold some of the meanings and rhythms of jazz.” He goes on to state, “But jazz to me is one of the inherent expressions of Negro life in America; the eternal tom-tom beating in the Negro soul—the tom-tom of revolt against weariness in a white world, a world of subway trains, and work, work, work; the tom-tom of joy and laughter, and pain swallowed in a smile.” (Hughes 1) In his Weary Blues poem, Hughes utilizes elements of jazz music. In Rebecca Gross’s article, Jazz Poetry & Langston Hughes, she highlights, “In the same vein as his beliefs about jazz, Hughes felt that jazz poetry could be a uniquely African-American literary form, distinctive among the venerable—and very white—poetic canon. When he wrote about jazz, Hughes often incorporated syncopated rhythms, jive language, or looser phrasing to mimic the improvisatory nature of jazz; in other poems, his verse reads like the lyrics of a blues song.” (Gross

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