The Weary Blues

Almost a hundred years ago, way back in 1925, American poet Langston Hughes, who was also a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance, which saw the revival of African-American literature and music among others, wrote this remarkable poem, The Weary Blues, which was also published in the New Negro, an anthology of African-American writers and poets.
I first read Langston’s poems way back in the early 1970s and was greatly influenced by his work. And today when on Netflix I watched Marshall, the 2017 biographical legal drama based on the life of Thurgood Marshall, which also had a brief interaction between him (played extremely well by Chadwick Boseman) and Langston (Jussie Smollett), it brought back memories of those poems. Reproduced below is The Weary Blues, which I could recite anytime from my memory in those days (and have still not forgotten it nearly 50 years later). Also a photograph of the great poet (1901-1967).

The Weary Blues
By Langston Hughes

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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.”
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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s