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Jazz and Poetry Cross-Fertilization Langston Hughes Born in Kansas, 1902 Similar time frame to Ellington, Louis Armstrong High School in Cleveland Studied Carl Sandburg and Walt Whitman Influenced by Sandburg’s Jazz Fantasies, (1919) Fused poetry and the music of black “Americans as the prime source and expression of their cultural truths” (Rampersand, Rossel, Collected Langston Hughes) First collection of poetry: The Weary Blues Thought poetry is a source of social expression and pragmatism Jazz Fantasia (Carl Sandburg -1919) Drum on your drums, batter on your banjoes, sob on the long cool winding saxophones. Go to it, O jazzmen. Sling your knuckles on the bottoms of the happy tin pans, let your trombones ooze, and go husha- husha-hush with the slippery sand-paper. Moan like an autumn wind high in the lonesome treetops, moan soft like you wanted somebody terrible, cry like a racing car slipping away from a motorcycle cop, bang-bang! you jazzmen, bang altogether drums, traps, banjoes, horns, tin cans -- make two people fight on the top of a stairway and scratch each other's eyes in a clinch tumbling down the stairs. Can the rough stuff . . . now a Mississippi steamboat pushes up the night river with a hoo-hoo-hoo-oo . . . and the green lanterns calling to the high soft stars . . . a red moon rides on the humps of the low river hills . . . go to it, O jazzmen My People (Hughes) The night is beautiful, So the faces of my people. The stars are beautiful, So the eyes of my people. Beautiful, also, is the sun. Beautiful, also, are the souls of my people. The White Ones (Hughes) I do not hate you, For your faces are beautiful, too. I do not hate you, Your faces are whirling lights of loveliness and splendor too. Yet, why do you torture me, O, white strong ones, Why do you torture me? Jazzonia (Hughes) Oh, silver tree! Oh, Shining tree! Oh, shining rivers of the soul! Oh, silver rivers of the soul! In a Harlem cabaret In a whirling cabaret Six long-headed jazzers play. Six long-headed jazzers play. A dancing girl whose eyes are bold Lifts high a dress of silken gold. Oh singing tree! Oh, shining rivers of the soul! Were Eve’s eyes In the first garden Just a bit too bold?? Was Cleopatra gorgeous In a Gown of gold? Jam Session (Hughes) Letting midnight out on bail pop-a-da having been detained in jail oop-pop-a-da for sprinkling salt on a dreamer’s tail pop-a-da Harlem  (Hughes) What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore - And then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over - like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load Or does it explode? Sonny Greer (Howard Hart) I remember nights you carried the whole Duke Ellington orchestra on your back across Jim Crow swamps I was amazed a kid unable to believe That your right hand could handle all those drums those cymbals While your left picked flowers out of the horns of Ben Webster Rabbit Harry Carney And each time Duke played you put a ring on each finger of his hand and a bell on his toe. Blues for John Cotrane, Dead at 41 (William Matthews) Although my house floats on a lawn as plush as a starlet’s body and my sons sleep easily, I think of death’s salmon breath leaping back up the saxophone with its wet kiss. Hearing him dead, I feel it in my feet as if the house were rocked by waves from a soundless speedboat planing by, full throttle.
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