Preposterous Universe

Sunday, December 05, 2004
The Weary Blues

By Langston Hughes.
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.
You can also listen to the poem read by the author, with music by Leonard Feather.

Ideas on culture, science, politics.
Sean Carroll

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