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The Weary Blues

4.44  ·  Rating details ·  784 ratings  ·  76 reviews
A beautiful new edition of this beloved poet's first collection, originally published in 1926 when he was just twenty-four.
From the opening "Proem" (prologue poem) he offers in this first book-"I am a Negro: / Black as night is black, / Black the depths of my Africa"-Hughes spoke directly, intimately, and powerfully of the experiences of African Americans, at a time when
Published 1945 by Alfred A. Knopf; 10th Printing edition (1945) (first published 1925)
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I’m not going to lie. Writing a review about a book of poetry is an intimidating task for me. I feel I should compose something lyrical, something beautiful, to show you just how much I understand and admire these lines. I want it to be something expressive of the soulful rhythm of Langston Hughes’s verse. But that’s not going to happen! Damn that left brain! Instead I’ll briefly tell you why I loved The Weary Blues and share a couple of my favorites.

A couple of years ago, I found an old beat u
Jan 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Each February I put together a lineup of books to celebrate African American History Month (U.S.). As my reading year progresses, I discover a varied tapestry of choices, and I have found that my “month” starts earlier and earlier each year. It is mid January, King Day observed is this coming Monday, so I thought I’d kick off the observance with a nearly century old poetry collection by Langston Hughes. I was first exposed to Hughes in middle school when in sixth grade we read his “Mother to Son ...more
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read Selected Poems of Langston Hughes for my classic-of-the-month and loved it so much I had to read this book of his too. Brilliant! Mr. Hughes is a man I would have loved to have known; he was intelligent and creative, strong and yet vulnerable, kind and compassionate. His poems reach into your soul.  He writes mainly of the Black experience and though as a white person I cannot relate personally to all he writes of, his words nevertheless evoke so much emotion, stimulate many thoughts.  Hi ...more
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In 1926 a twenty-four year old man of color wandered in to a white man's world and declared here are my words.

His name was Langston Hughes.

His first publication, The Weary Blues, was nothing less than badass, a compilation of poems that nodded respectfully both to Walt Whitman and the incomparable Carl Sandburg and. . . oh yeah. . . started off a little something called the Harlem Renaissance, too.

Mr. Hughes wasn't sure about a God or an afterlife, but he did know that he was a human being with
robin friedman
Dec 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Langston Hughes And The Weary Blues

Cheryl A. Wall's recent book "The Harlem Renaissance: A Very Short Introduction" (2016) inspired me to revisit the poetry of Langston Hughes. I had read collections of Hughes' poems some time ago but was largely familiar with him through his under-appreciated autobiographical novel, "Not Without Laughter". As luck would have it I found this new edition of Hughes' "The Weary Blues" in the public library. The volume is even shorter that Wall's book that I read in
Jan 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
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 so
Danyal Effendi
Aug 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
‘The Weary Blues’ is among the first works of Langston Hughes and is a benchmark in history of African-American poetic history. The poem was awarded as the best poem of the year by Opportunity magazine where it was first published in 1925. It innovate the use of American blues in English poems, which serves as a landmark for various black musical artists; like, Sterling Brown, Yusef Komunyakaa, Michael S. Harper, Robert Hayden and other to follow the same trait. Blue music, which is considered a ...more
Jamall Andrew
Mar 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Sharp and poignant, one of the best poetry books I've ever read in my life. This is Langston at his best, maybe not always at his most vulnerable, but definitely at his sharpest. There's a focus or maybe a maturity I bid earlier writings that is arguably missing or just decreased in his later work. For me, this collection of poetry encapsulates the very best of him.
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great collection of poems by Langston Hughes. A few of my favorites are: Ardella, Poem (To F.S.) and Epilogue. Read it and discover your favorites.
Jul 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
One of the great literary debuts of the 20th Century, The Weary Blues was first published in 1926. In honor of the book’s 90th anniversary, Knopf re-published the collection with its original cover art and introduction, plus a new introduction by poet Kevin Young. Hughes’s voice was original like Whitman’s, though rooted, as was Whitman's, in the language and culture of America, most specifically for Hughes of black America. Like the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass, its significance has become i ...more
Hannah Warren
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As the lyrics of these poems shift from darkness to daybreak, the tone shifts, as well. There are joy and pain to be found in both.

There's a safety in the darkness, a freedom for "vulgar dancers [to] whirl" because the "Sun's going down this evening-- / Might never rise no mo.'" The sun is apocalyptic, an ending.

Still, Hughes writes,
Trouble, pain.
Sun's gonna shine
Considering these lines, can we assume that the apocalypse (a great change) is desirable?
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
bring me all of your dreams ,
you dreamers .
bring me all of your
heart memories
that i may wrap them
in a blue cloud - cloth
away from the too rough fingers
of the world .
Jul 10, 2018 added it
Highlights: The Negro Speaks of Rivers, The South, Poem (To the Black Beloved), Long Trip, Epilogue.
Feb 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I cannot believe I waited so many years to read this gem. It has several well-known poems that had crossed my path before, but I discovered many others that I now cherish.
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing

To fling my arms wide
In some place of the sun,
To whirl and to dance
Till the white day is done.
Then rest at cool evening
Beneath a tall tree
While night comes on gently,
Dark like me—
That is my dream!

To fling my arms wide
In the face of the sun,
Dance! Whirl! Whirl!
Till the quick day is done.
Rest at pale evening . . .
A tall, slim tree . . .
Night coming tenderly
Black like me.

The poetry speaks for itself. Easily one of the best books of poetry I've read in recent years.
Don Heiman
Jun 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Over the past 40 years I always wrote on the last blank page of every book I own the date when I read it. Yesterday I read Langston Hughes’ book of poetry entitled “The Weary Blues” first published in 1926. My copy of the book was republished in 2015 with an introduction by Carl Van Vechten and a new forward by Kevin Young. This morning I erased my penciled “read date” and made a personal commitment to continuously read every day one of the 68 titled poems in his book. I now realize that Langsto ...more
Read for the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge, Task #1 - a book written by someone when they were under the age of 25

My final Read Harder task! This was a last-minute swap for Zadie Smith's White Teeth, which I couldn't track down a copy of. I've read a number of the poems in this collection, but not the collection itself, and I was surprised by how many of my favorites ended up being pieces I've never seen anthologized or written about elsewhere (I got halfway done with a Ph.D. in African Americ
Jun 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'll never get tired of reading Hughes. Ever.
Bridgette Azoanee
This collection of poems by Langston Hughes, is very authentic in the way that he captures the true essence of human nature and its resilience to overcome, endure, and to be heard. I really enjoyed entering into the different settings and sceneries of each poem. They grab the reader by the hand and welcomes them in. For example, in Young Sister, “one who sings “chansons vulgaires” in a Harlem cellar, where the jazz-band plays from dark to dawn,” and in, To A Little Lover-Lass, Dead, “she searche ...more
Feb 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
“The rhythm of life
Is a jazz rhythm,
The gods are laughing at us.” (21)

Rhythmic, sharp, romantic and clean, the work of Langston Hughes sets the standard for what modern American poetry can and should be. Seriously—you can actually hear the melodies of syncopated saxophones and bluesy pianos pouring out from the pages of this book. I’ve never read poetry that’s so musically evocative.

Many of these poems are sexy, many sad, and many scathing critiques of the “circus of civilization.” (82)
eindra lin
Jul 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
jazz poetry is a style that was so foreign to me. and by golly it might be one of my favorites. it's more than just poetry about jazz music. it SOUNDS like jazz music. and that isn't easy to do. do you know how many different types of jazz and blues music there are? and yet, langston hughes's poems seem to capture all of them. wow. the rhythm and emotions of his poems are both measured and improvised. how tf you make poetry sound improvised?? i dont fuckin know but he did and gosh it sounds it g ...more
Anne Pytlak
Dec 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The “Mother to Son” poem is the most famous from this collection, and rightfully so. But there are many gems here (after all, it is Langston Hughes). “Epilogue” is similar to “Let America be America Again”, and just as heart wrenching.

Some of them these could be written today, such as “Afraid” which is about alienation/isolation even though we live “among the skyscrapers”.

Others are timeless and “Suicide’s Note” is stark and profound. “The calm, Cool face of the river. Asked me for a kiss.”

My fa
Howard A
I found this book browsing at a second hand book store in Orlando Florida and the only reason I purchased it is because it's Langston Hughes. I'm not a big reader of poetry but I enjoyed this immensely. As a Black man and a student of history I could identify with Mr. Hughes stories and prose differently then any other writer I can think of. Until reading The Weary Blues, Edgar Allen Poe was my "go to" poet. Perhaps because I believe they both are able to identify with the deepest feelings of so ...more
John Pistelli
Following on from my review of Crane's White Buildings—which begins with some general reflections on the reading of poetry—I am trying to pay more attention to modern poets. I especially appreciate books like this one: reprints of important collections as they appeared in the poet's lifetime. I would prefer to read such books than either intimidatingly massive "collected poems" or worryingly partial "selected poems." It seems strange to me to ignore the importance of the collection, the slim vol ...more
Nov 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was first introduced to Langston Hughes in my third grade reader. Just one poem. The first "grown up" poem that ever spoke to my little, naive 8 year old self. He wrote it in his early twenties and it is in this beautifully musical book. He is still one of my favorite poets and my favorite writer of all types from Missouri. I wanted to quote one of the best parts of this collection but there is more than one best. I need to buy a copy of this book.
Jan 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
An excellent book of poetry by Langston Hughes, with the introduction by Carl Van Vechten that appeared in its original edition in 1925, as well as a forward written by Kevin Young in 2014 for this re-print. What an astonishing life Langston Hughes lead, and the poems that he wrote tell tales of some of those experiences.
Several of these poems touch a chord in me, simply and deeply. Slices of life, bits of dreams, character sketches, hints of the depths and far-flung reaches.
Dominic Howarth
Mar 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Langston’s work is at once timely and timeless. He puts you there, in Harlem, in Lenox Avenue, in the clubs and the streets and looking up at the skies. But, he’s also here, in today’s America, still ravaged by racism, still spoiled with white privilege, still yearning to be a nation that is truly free. And Langston finds freedom in his poems, flying like a bird on a rhythmic wire, taking us in his claw for a ride I will not soon forget.
J. Scott Samarco
This is gold!

What great literature by one of the greatest poets of all time. I personally love the final two sections of this work. Langston gives so much imagery of his time and captures the mind to wonder and think.

His work is greatly appreciated. Although written during the 20s and Great Depression era; unfortunately his view on race and how whites view people of color is still relevant to this day.

I, too, am America!
Jul 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
How do you review a person's soul? How do you rate a person"s soul?

It feels profane.
I do feel lucky to have spent the little while with The Weary Blues. I feel welcomed as all-comers and no apologies made nor needed for the raw songs of joy, despair, beauty, debauchery, longing, and release. Baldwin was a poet in his graceful capacity to share his own soul and in so doing, the reader/hearer is gifted that glimpse of humanity. Words fail me.
Sean Blevins
Jul 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Hughes is the natural heir to Whitman. This, his first collection is sufficient proof.

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”

They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.
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Langston Hughes was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, short story writer, and columnist. He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form jazz poetry. Hughes is best known for his work during the Harlem Renaissance. He famously wrote about the period that "Harlem was in vogue."

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“I am a Negro:
    Black as the night is black,
    Black like the depths of my Africa.
I’ve been a slave:
    Cæsar told me to keep his door-steps clean.
    I brushed the boots of Washington.
I’ve been a worker:
    Under my hand the pyramids arose.
    I made mortar for the Woolworth Building.
I’ve been a singer:
    All the way from Africa to Georgia
    I carried my sorrow songs.
    I made ragtime.
I’ve been a victim:
    The Belgians cut off my hands in the Congo.
    They lynch me now in Texas.
I am a Negro:
    Black as the night is black,
    Black like the depths of my Africa.”
“The lazy, laughing South
With blood on its mouth.
The sunny-faced South,
The child-minded South
Scratching in the dead fire’s ashes
For a Negro’s bones.
    Cotton and the moon,
    Warmth, earth, warmth,
    The sky, the sun, the stars,
    The magnolia-scented South.
Beautiful, like a woman,
Seductive as a dark-eyed whore,
    Passionate, cruel,
    Honey-lipped, syphilitic—
    That is the South.
And I, who am black, would love her
But she spits in my face.
And I, who am black,
Would give her many rare gifts
But she turns her back upon me.
    So now I seek the North—
    The cold-faced North,
    For she, they say,
    Is a kinder mistress,
And in her house my children
May escape the spell of the South.”
More quotes…