Weary Blues, Harlem Galleries, and Southern Roads
But jazz to me is one of the inherent expressions of Negro life in America: the eternal tom-tom beating in the Negro soul -- tom-tom of revolt against weariness in a white world, a world of subway trains, and work, work, work; the tom-tom of joy and laughter, and pain swallowed in a smile.
-- Langston Hughes
An' all dat Big Boy axes
When time comes fo' to go,
Lemme be wid John Henry, steel drivin' man,
Lemme be wid old Jazzbo,
Lemme be wid ole Jazzbo. . . .
-- Sterling Brown
The poems that Hughes chose to show Lindsay were "The Weary Blues, " "Jazzonia, " and "Negro Dancers, " the same three poems that open the first section of The Weary Blues ( 1926). Hughes had gambled with the gesture. He knew that the auditorium would not admit African-American people and that he would have to act before the reading if he was to have any chance of meeting Lindsay or showing him his work. Still, the odds stood in his favor: At worst, Lindsay could have ignored the verse. But Hughes must also have known the strength of those three poems, and a brief glance would probably be enough to keep Lindsay's attention. Like a card player drawing three aces, Lindsay would be hard pressed to fold.
The irony, though, had to do with timing. Although the early twenties found Lindsay ranting against the title "Jazz Poet, " it was also a time when Hughes had begun to find his poetic voice, a voice nurtured by the sounds