The Blues Poem Analysis

972 Words4 Pages
“Their voices blended into a threnody of nostalgia about pain. Rising and falling, complex in 1harmony, uncertain in pitch, but constant in the recitative of pain.”

The Blues Aesthetic is a catharsis of pain, suffering and cultural wisdom gathered from the age of slavery. It is a means of transmission of narratives that builds on the oral tradition of storytelling; a compilation of stories peppered with suffering, sacrifice and loss narrated through lyrics of songs, “The Blues arises as a late nineteenth century/early twentieth century secular thrust of African-American culture, whose oldest musical and lyrical heritage was Africa but whose changing contemporary expression summed up their lives and culture in the West.”
In Morrison’s words,
…show more content…
MacTeer sings “I hate to see de evening sun go down.” The lyric is an allusion to the Blues hit “St.Louis Blues” by W.C Hardy. The lyrics are sung from the point of view of a woman, who pines over her lover “Got de St.Louis blues, jes as blue as I can be. Dat man got a heart lack a rock cast de sea” and is an exemplar of catharsis. Claudia is exposed to the ideas of love and loss through her Mama’s endless singing on Saturdays that make her yearn for “hard times, bad times and somebody-gone-and-left-me times”. The mention of a typical Blues’ hit also suggests that the MacTeers’ were in touch with the cultural happenings of the society and that there was a sense of joy in the household. Claudia puts it as “If my mother was in a singing mood, it wasn’t so bad…. But without song, those Saturdays sat on my head like a coal scuttle.” The presence of music in the MacTeer home with Mama’s singing and Big Papa playing the violin provided Claudia with stories she could relate to. These stories helped her escape from the un-relatable “Shirley Temples” and find a sense of community that let her formulate a positive personal identity. To Claudia, her Mama’s voice was “misery coloured by the greens and blues that took all the grief out of the words and left me with a conviction that pain was not only endurable, it was sweet.” The Blues helped Claudia find comfort in a complexity of emotions. It was comfort found despite an acute understanding of circumstance and societal order, a…show more content…
This lack of understanding of love and loss is instilled in Pecola. The only exposure that Pecola gets to the Blues is through Poland, who with her “voice sweet and hard, like strawberries” sung songs such as “Blues everywhere” with the lyric “ I know a boy who is sky-soft brown.”

However, there is a key difference between Mrs. MacTeer’s Blues and Poland’s Blues: the former sings of a strong female who is frustrated in the man who she “pulls dat man aroun’ by her apron strings” while the latter sings of “blues in the bedroom, ‘cause I’m sleeping by myself” and “a boy who is sky-soft brown”. Claudia learns how to make grief sweet, while Pecola listens to Poland’s
Open Document