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.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Langston Hughes's poem The Weary Blues

21 Comments

  1. malek says:

    “Harlem was not so much a place as a state of mind,the cultural metaphore for black america itself”.Discuss the statement in relation to the weary blues and a Montage of a Dream Deffered by Langston?

  2. Jake says:

    I really like how Hughes seems to make his poem flow like a blues song. I feel as if the pianist himself shows not just black people but great musicians themselves, a musicians heart and sole is in his instrument, and when one isn’t playing it they are really nothing, just normal.

  3. sergio c says:

    “The Weary Blues” is a good poem. I think the piano is the symbol in this poem because when he plays it its like a song but when its over he falls asleep like a rock and that shows that the piano is a symbol in this poem. It’s like if the piano represents the life of the man.

  4. Josh says:

    This poem is not about Langston Hughes, Its about all blacks during that time. Its also about W.E.B. Dubois theory on “Double-Consciousness.” The theory of a “two-ness” being African and American, and the constant struggle between the two. Theres a contrast in “Ebony hands for each Ivory key.” Its also about the isolation that people feel when they are stuck with this dilemma. He offers a solution by saying quit ma frowning, and put ma troubles on the shelf,” saying that we as a people need to make the best of what this is and achieve the way we always do. Thats just my opinion though…

  5. Mary Suw says:

    i say that this poem is about injustice and inequality. though, hughes is trying to portray the disputed fact among the natures of two traditions in a white society in how they are intertwined with each other nontheless.

  6. the says:

    The rhythm and rhyme patterns in the single stanza poem, The Weary Blues, are constantly changing, like a jazz or blues song, giving you the sense of listening to music. One listens from the view of a weary black man listening to another weary black man singing in a club. The melancholy vernacular and the rundown image of the piano gives the poem a slow, dreary, beaten tone.
    The piano represents two themes; the first, racial incongruence and the next, hope. The piano, with its ivory keys, moans as if in protest of the ebony fingers that play it, belonging to a man, who although tires of fighting, still tries.
    The moan, when paired with the line “and I wish that I had died” contradicts what the poem seems to say on the surface. We know that people sing the blues so they don’t get the blues, and no one in their right mind wants to die, neither does the singer, because he went to the club and sang about his sorrows to lift his sorrows. The moaning piano, despite its weariness, still played its sad song. The poem is about life, perseverance and hope.

  7. touk says:

    beautiful and sad

  8. Sankora says:

    main themes: Racial discrimination,alienation
    tone:touching sadness
    Hughes not only expresses himself but he represents all blacks in his poem. He is talking about people’s suffering and pain under oppression. Racial discrimination was still apparent at that time” Coming from a black man’s soul.” the word black is significant. “He played that sad raggy tune like a musical fool….Sweet Blues!” The musician stands for the blacks who create out of their dilemma beautiful art. The tone of sadness overwhelms .The listener of the music stands for readers. As if Hughes wanted us (white people) to feel for the blacks in their alienation and sadness. A question that is not answered for me at least is why he quoted this blue song particularly. I don’t think it is a mere example. What does it connote “I ain’t happy no mo’… And I wish that I had died.” It is not logic that he did not mean it. is it to convey his sadness only or to add that if he don’t have his freedom it is better to die.
    yet at last it is a wonderful poem that portrays black people agonies and hardships.It is 95% African Americanan 2% blues 3% hughes.so if u didnot like it read it again and if u did keep it in ur mind and soul.

  9. N....... says:

    tone – sad and depressed
    Hughes suggests that blues offer a certain kind of experience for both the reader and the listener…they both benefit…uses imagery to paint a picture…uses personification and onomotopoeia…asserts his isolationism in line 20 “Ain’t got nobody but ma self”…relationship between the speaker and the audience mirrors the effect of the music itself for the performer and the audience

  10. Ariane says:

    Be careful of interpreting this poem too narrowly. Yes, I think it’s about race and inequality, to a degree; and it’s also a personal poem, about one bluesman, and a personal poem about black people, about a form of expression and beauty that arose from black culture and that many see as being inextricably linked to the American black experience. But remember, the old bluesman is a performer. His song isn’t just for him, its for his audience, and however weary his blues may be he’s still playing them on Lenox Avenue, coaxing a song out of the reluctant piano…It is not a dying, defeatist moan, because the ultimate defeat would be not to play. It is not a flat and pointless polemic against his life and the conditions that brought him to it, racial or otherwise, because he is taking that experience and reshaping it into his own creation, with skill and irony and humor–“I’s gwine take my troubles and put them on the shelf.” No one can ever say “I wish I was dead” and mean it. The statement is inherently contradictory, implicitly ironic. The bluesman’s voice in the poem, and perhaps Hughes’ as well, should be taken in the same sense.

  11. Erica Ivy says:

    This poem is very good.

  12. Valerie says:

    hi English Major here…. this is from the book I’m currently reading in my poetry class:

    “The Weary Blues boldy celebrates the everyday lives of ordinary black folk in a vernacular poetics based in the kind of blues lyricism, black sermon, spirituals, and other expressive forms that are rooted in African American culture.”
    So before you guys act like you know what your talking about… go to school… learn something…
    Langston Hughes was only inspired by jazz and blues, he’s not saying he’s just weary.. is the representative of his race back in the 1920’s! C’mon now… geez.. sorry this is directed towards the people saying he’s a weary, tired man.

  13. rainbow says:

    how people come to interprete this as “this is not a poem about equality, but about an old blues singer” So racism and inequality has always existed(everywhere!!!) Don`t tell me that poor people anyway..and all blacks are completely equal in the US.
    Langston Hughes always speaks for justice and equality.

  14. Nina June says:

    I thought that this was a great poem. This poem is not about equality, it is in fact about the inequality amongst the races at this time. His very loose usage of the N word shows how he feels the white people viewed him and his race. The blues were weary because the man singing the tune was so tired of having to work for the white man and get nothing back in return. And this being all that he can think about “He slept like a rock or a man that’s dead”

  15. Herr Doctor says:

    This poem was decently depressing and reminded me of those angsty teenagers that I see all too often in the forums of the internet. “I ain’t happy no mo’ and I wish that I had died.” Yes, you know it’s the blues when someone can suggest suicide and yet somehow still appeal to audiences. From other parts of the poem that I managed to glance at (before wishing I had slammed my face down on the barbeque grill), there is just a hint of race in the topic. Well, he identifies the performer in the poem as “Negro”, anyway. Apart from that, though, the message that Langston is obviously trying to convey is “‘da Blues” and whatever strange effect it happens to have upon a musician and the audience.
    This doesn’t really help in making his poem more appealing, though, as I’ve seen more attractive things in my lunch tray. The poem was slow and ultimately monotonous. To read each line was about as tedious as trying to count how much hair I have on my head.In conclusion, Langston’s poem, The Weary Blues contained 99% Blues and 1% about African Americans. As it is in a Blues format, it was slow, boring, and greatly depressing. I would have been more content writing a poem myself than reading something so pointless.

  16. will says:

    I think this is a great poem. I dont think its about anything big I just think its about a tired old black blues player. I dont think it was meant to be about equality between races but rather its about some old blues man he saw oneday. And if you get the right beat you could even turn this into a blues song.

  17. david says:

    In “The Weary Blues Hughes illustrates that blacks and whites are a part of each other and that they combine to form America. Each may have their special cultural customs and traditions, but they are both a part of humanity and American society and so are in that way connected.

  18. Constanza says:

    i think the man playing the weary blues is not sad or even weary, his problem is that he has accepted the fact that he is a black man in a white man’s land and that he is forced to express his black soul through “ivory keys” (which represents the white race). Even though he is reluctant to use the “white” way to express a “black” feeling, he has no choice, and this overwhlming thought is what might make him look “weary”

  19. katie says:

    i say it’s about a fatigued man who just expresses his feelings through music. he’s weary…so he plays the blues. it works. it’s definitely not about equality. just a man and the suck that is his life. though his life probably doesn’t suck. just the prejudice in the world.

  20. Grossh says:

    NO!! What are you talking about!? It’s about himself, maybe a little about racial discrimination, but no. It’s how he feels. “Weary!”???

  21. merve says:

    thıs ıs a good poem about equality between races. poet ıs talkıng about dıscrımınatıon whıch ıs takıng place now and asserts that they cant do this ın near future everthıng wıll be dıfferent then.and he also claıms that he ıs an amerıcan too and he ıs rıght black people as old as rivers there(ın amerıca)and who are new of course whites!

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