Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Day Thirteen - Juke Box Love Song by Langston Hughes
JUKE BOX LOVE SONG
I could take the Harlem night
and wrap around you,
Take the neon lights and make a crown,
Take the Lenox Avenue buses,
And for your love song tone their rumble down.
Take Harlem's heartbeat,
Make a drumbeat,
Put it on a record, let it whirl,
And while we listen to it play,
Dance with you till day—
Dance with you, my sweet brown Harlem girl.
Juke Box Love Song by Langston Hughes
In Juke Box Love Song, Langston Hughes skillfully crafts a poem that showcases his love of a woman and his love of their home. It's difficult, but do-able to write a love poem to a person. It's also a challenge, but possible to write a love poem to a place. Figuring one challenge wasn't enough for him, Langston Hughes combined the two focuses and wrote himself a love poem that glorifies his beloved Harlem and his beloved woman at the same time. The poem is so organic in it's construction and flow that it probably seems like it was easy to write, but that would be the genius of Langston Hughes.
From the beginning, Hughes intertwines his woman and his city, proclaiming "I could take the Harlem night / and wrap around you." There is a slightly odd attraction about this image of Hughes clothing his love in Harlem, but the weird factor decreases as other parts of Harlem join the mix. "Take the neon lights and make a crown, / Take the Lenox Avenue buses, / Taxis, subways, / And for your love song tone their rumble down." She, like Harlem, is glowing in neon, and her song is a low "rumble" that has power, but prefers smoothness. At this point, Hughes introduces himself into the poem, not to create a love triangle, but instead to provide the perfect compliment. Listening to "Harlem's heartbeat," Hughes takes it to "make a drumbeat, / Put it on a record, let it whirl." Using Harlem as their soundtrack, and dare I say aphrodisiac, Hughes tells his beloved that he will "Dance with you till day— / Dance with you, my sweet brown Harlem girl." I could read this poem a hundred times and I think it would be a fifty fifty split as to who this love poem is addressed to. Harlem is just as prominent as the girl in this poem, so prominent that the two are inherently linked in Hughes' mind.