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Langston Hughes - Merry-Go-Round

COLORED CHILD AT CARNIVAL

Where is the Jim Crow section 
On this merry-go-round, 
Mister, cause I want to ride?
Down South where I come from 
White and colored 
Can't sit side by side. 
Down South on the train 
There's a Jim Crow car. 
On the bus we're put in the back--
But there ain't no back 
To a merry-go-round! 
Where's the horse 
For a kid that's black?

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Added: Feb 20 2003 | Viewed: 1832 times | Comments and analysis of Merry-Go-Round by Langston Hughes Comments (25)

Merry-Go-Round - Comments and Information

Poet: Langston Hughes
Poem: Merry-Go-Round
Poem of the Day: Sep 6 2003

Comment 25 of 25, added on February 18th, 2011 at 12:15 PM.
dumb

this poem is just talking about the life back then.. it reallydoesnt talk about nothing about life today.. its just a dumb poem.. black people dont even care anymore.they sit in the back of the bus either way..

risky from United States
Comment 24 of 25, added on November 3rd, 2010 at 8:58 AM.
blah

its retarded

carl from Pakistan
Comment 23 of 25, added on June 1st, 2010 at 1:43 PM.
Colored Child at Carnival

This black child who comes from “down South” has known racial segregation ever since he was born. He knows that on buses there black people have to sit in the back; likewise, on trains, there are cars reserved for them. Where they have to sit is called the “Jim Crow section”, in reference to the infamous laws forbidding Blacks to mix with Whites in public places.
This black child is now in the North – a new country to him – and would like to ride on a merry-go-round – a new problem. Indeed, as we are made to understand, there is no Jim Crow section on a merry-go-round for the simple reason that it has neither front nor back. The questions he asks the adult – maybe a white man – can therefore receive no satisfactory answers. Yet we are not really interested in the answers, all the more so as there are none given. Only the child’s questions matter here. They are meant to make us realise that racial discrimination is a purely arbitrary process and that its logic is far from impeccable. This particular case – the merry-go-round – blatantly exposes its intrinsic inanity since the circular shape of the carousel prevents any form of segregation.
The black child is therefore confronted to a situation where the old rules no longer apply and is at a loss for what to do. Here again, whether he eventually chooses to ride on the merry-go-round or not is quite irrelevant. The point is that he is offered an option he was never allowed to contemplate hitherto. Paradoxically, the world has opened up in the form of a closed circle. But this figure of a circle is first and foremost a metaphor for a perfect – or at least, better – world, freed of all its man-made divisions and therefore returned to its primeval innocence, where anybody can live free regardless of the colour of their skin.


Jay Pea from France

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