The Analysis of the Poem “The Weary Blues” by Langton Hughes
Have you ever listened to a man singing the blues?For this assignment our job was to do a critical analysis of certain required poems, of the required poems I chose “The Weary Blues.”This poem is all bout a man singing the blues and his feelings while doing it. We were told to focus on one area while analyzing our poem, for example tone, characters, theme, the setting, etc. so for this poem I chose to focus on the tone. With this essay I am going to give the reader a clear understanding on the ways I broke down Langston Hughes writing in this poem and why. I will also clarify some of the words that he uses to get a better understanding of what he means and how it ties into the tone. I will give a brief summary of what I think the theme of this poem is, only to tie how the tone supports it. Overall, after reading this analysis I hope that my reader will have a full break down and understanding on the conclusions that I have drawn from Langton Hughes, “The Weary Blues” poem.
From what I gathered the theme of this poem is a about the narrator watching, listening to, and describing the character that that has the blues and is actually singing the blues on the main street in his town. The author portrays this man as a skillful man that that is sorrowful about his current state in his blues about his life. Through the words and meanings of the words, the author portrays this man as very down and unhappy about his life at this point. So in the remainder I will be giving you specific examples of how and why I believe the author conveyed this.
As stated above for my poem I chose to focus on tone. This is because, while reading this story it invoked a very distinct emotion and mood on me and according to Webster’s online dictionary that is indeed what tone means. Specifically it read, “accent or inflection expressive of a mood or emotion.” So, I took it literally, even the title I took literally. The title “The Weary Blues” the word weary means “having one’s patience, tolerance, or pleasure exhausted,” can you imagine? Then the word blues meaning “low spirits.” So by definition this poem is entitled The Exhausted Low Spirits. Wow, how rum dum, this title even gives one the sense of being so low and down in spirits, so low that even the feeling of having low spirits is exhausted. What’s beyond the feelings of being depressed, down, and sad? How low can a human being feel? Whatever the answer is to those questions that is what the author is trying to portray with the way this poem is written, and just like in the title. Those definitions really tie into how the narrator describes the main character in this poem. Those descriptive words, exhausted, having low spirits, depressed, down, etc really describe this character. In the character says “I ain’t happy no mo’ ” (line29), he also states, “I wish I had died” (line30).
That answers my question above of what’s beyond feeling depressed, down, sad, and having exhausted patience, tolerance, and pleasure. This character’s answer is death. That really gives the readers the sense of some really heavy emotions weighing on this character and even possibly on the reader some. It weighs on the reader because this is a human being that would rather die than feel how he feels, and that is deep, and it kind of makes us think of what really is this man going through that he wishes that outcome for himself. Sometimes I hear people tell a story of how someone so mean, and angry walks in the room and that kind of rubs off on them, well that is the intention of the author of this poem. When I read this poem the deep inset sorrow of these blues really rubbed off. One almost feels like they have the blues, or at least the down feelings after reading this. Another possible feeling that someone could experience after reading this is, like they are the one in the environment the author writes about. I say this because by how descriptive the author is with his words, he says, “the stars went out and so did the moon,” (line32). This gives us the image of this really sad man playing his piano way into the night, so late the moon and stars have already gone. Then he leaves it up to our (the reader’s) imagination to how late that is and what that looks like. That supports how he really gives us the feeling and imagery that we are in the environment.
Now I will talk more about the feelings that are encompassed in the tone. I don’t think he does the feelings of deep dark emotions in this poem to make us feel bad personally, but to feel what the characters in this poem are feeling, and to feel the type of environment experienced. The author does a very good job at portraying the tone in this poem. One way he does this is by his descriptive words. His words really draw a picture for us so that we can picture the scene he speaks of and really are able to understand it. Some of the words he uses to name a few are “drowning, drowsy, lazy, and sway.”(Lines6-35). All of these words give us the understanding of a mood of being very mellow, and even like the author wrote lazy. It seems as if the author put a lot into which words he used because he could’ve chose many other words that have similar definitions, but he chose these. One reason I assume he did this is because of his understanding of the English language and how we generally react given certain phrases and words. This is not saying that other people that are not English speaking originally will not read his poems or even understand it, but it is in fact in the English language and obviously written for us. For instance, If a person were to talk about 9/11, that means something and provokes specific emotions for us U.S. citizens so when one speaks of it to us they have that in mind, well that is the same type of situation with these very dark, depressing words, the provoke specific feelings in us. Obviously this is a generalization, but for the most part it is true.
Next, I will talk about why the tone of this poem is effective and why the tone is appropriate. Well, when I think of measuring the effectiveness of something, I think about two main components the results and was it enough information to even answer that question. For results I have my reactions to this poem. Did I get an understanding of what he was saying? Also, did I experience the intended feelings and emotions that the tone of this poem would bring? So for those questions my answer is yes. Not simply yes but yes for the reasons and through the examples I stated above. Above I showed how with and through his descriptions and words I was able to draw out a meaning and an image of the setting, tone, and character in this poem. When thinking about if the tone was appropriate, I thought about if he would have used a lighter, happier tone. For this poem that tone would not match and support his thesis as strongly as this tone did. Consequently, that really shows that he went the right way with his tone for this poem.
In conclusion, this poem was well written in all aspects. Grammatically, the author did a good job with his word choice, and the formation of his sentences. He did this by using slang words to give us an insight on the type of character this was (ex. “no mo” and “ain’t”), and choosing specific words to give an understanding of the physical appearance of the environment (ex. “The moon and stars went out” and “lazy sway”. I found these words really drew a mind picture for me. As far as having the desired outcome with the tone, he accomplished that by the many ways stated in this essay. Overall this was a very interesting poem to break down and analyze. I found the author’s word choice interesting because I kind of made you want to understand the main character and know why he felt the way he did. I found that the tone was really invasive. In the way that, even if you didn’t want to feel the emotions of this poem, you really didn’t have a choice because in order to get through the reading of this paragraph you have to understand the meaning of the words, and the words were found to invoke feelings and emotions. Every time I read through his poem I got more understanding of the environment, the character, the theme, and the tone. Obviously, there could be many ways of interpreting the meaning of this poem, but this is my take on the poem The Weary Blues.
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