Analysis of "The Weary Blues" Essay

Brandon Smith ENG 2233 A Mrs. Lowe 2 December 2009 Sweet Blues With all the different forms of literature today, and allowing for the variety of genres available to today’s readers, there are endless possibilities of options regarding a reader’s favorite piece of literature. Many of my favorites can be categorized into the country-western genre; however, my taste in literature is not limited to stories of cowboys and Indians. As I have aged, I have found that I enjoy reading literature for both recreation and as a learning experience.

Along with my newfound reason for reading, I find that I enjoy reading poetry, searching for each poem’s hidden or underlying meanings. Of the poems recently presented in class, my favorite is “The Weary Blues” by Langston Hughes, because of its imagery, technique, and style. Throughout the poem, Hughes utilizes imagery to increase the pleasure gained from reading this piece. In lines five through seven, the poem’s speaker describes the musicians setting as having a “pale dull pallor” (Hughes 1659).

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Along with his description of the setting, the speaker states that the musician “did a lazy sway…” (Hughes 1659). Because the speaker describes the setting as lacking color and the musician’s actions as “lazy” (Hughes 1659), the speaker’s description of the musician’s setting and actions depict a man that is lacking life and energy. In lines 33-35, the speaker states: “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” (Hughes 1660).

Because the passage refers to the sleeping musician as a stone or a dead man, one can see that no matter how soundly the musician sleeps, or how deeply he slips into a subconscious state, he is still plagued by the struggles that create his “Weary Blues” (Hughes 1660). With the application of imagery to the poem, Hughes creates an enjoyable piece of literature. Not only does Hughes utilize imagery to create a pleasurable poem, but he also makes use of a variety of literary techniques to aid in his effort.

In lines 1-3, the speaker says: “Droning a drowsy syncopated tune, / Rocking back and forth to a mellow croon, / I heard a Negro play” (Hughes 1659). In this passage, Hughes incorporates a dangling modifier to make the audience one with the musician. Although dangling modifiers are grammatically incorrect due to the ambiguity that is often created by the modifiers presence, Hughes uses the ambiguity of the modifier to bridge the subject (the musician) of the poem to the audience (the speaker) within the poem.

Simply, Hughes allows the ambiguity to exist in order for the reader to see that speaker empathizes with the musician’s blues. In line ten, the speaker states that the musician “made that poor piano moan with melody” (Hughes 1659). This passage is a clear example of personification because it gives the piano, an in-animate object, human qualities. In addition, the passage displays the strength of the musician’s blues because he is able to personify his feelings with the use of his piano.

Hughes incorporation of literary techniques adds to the appeal of this poem. Along with its imagery and its variety of literary techniques, the style in which the poem is written helps create an agreeable piece of literature. In lines 23-30, the speaker states: “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’ ” (Hughes 1660).

These lines are an example of the free verse style in which this poem is written, because it lacks both a set rhyming scheme and a set structure that is determined by meter. In order to add a dramatic element to this piece, Hughes utilizes and isolates apostrophes to interrupt the flow of the poem (Hughes 1659). Hughes addition and placement of the apostrophes is possible due to the poem’s style. Because of its “syncopated tune” (Hughes 1659), the free verse style of the poem appropriately accompanies the blues theme of the poem and assists in making it delightful to read.

Whether it is due to a preference in genre or writing style or content, we are able to sift through the mountains of literature that scatter the globe and determine which pieces we consider our favorites. However, with age comes a change in tastes and preferences, leading to the discovery of new literary favorites. As for me, I have discovered a new favorite in Langston Hughes’ “The Weary Blues,” because of its imagery, literary technique, and style. Work Cited Hughes, Langston. “The Weary Blues. ” The American Tradition in Literature, 12th ed. Ed. Barbara Perkins and George Perkins. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2009. 1659-1660.

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