Lost Wandering Blues Poem Analysis

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Blues music was created by African Americans in the deep South during the 19th century. One of the main characteristics of blues music that separates the blues from other musical genres is that blues themes are more than often based on personal adversity. One popular blues theme is traveling. When the theme of traveling comes to mind, adversity may not be the first thing one thinks of; however, traveling was historically used as a tool to oppress African Americans in the United States. During the years of slavery, it was common practice to deny African Americans the right to travel or to force African Americans to travel between unfamiliar plantations. Gertrude “Ma” Rainey’s well-known songs, “Traveling Blues” and “Lost Wandering Blues” both …show more content…

This piece demonstrates how traveling was used as a personal discovery tool for the African American female. Through this song, Rainey tells the story of a woman who goes on a journey to find her man: “ I’m leavin’ this mornin’ with my clothes in my hand/ Lord, I’m leaving this mornin’ with my clothes in my hand/ I won’t stop movin’ till I find my man” (ll.1-3). When the woman starts her journey, it is clear that she is not sure of any obstacles that she will encounter along the way, but she is willing to keep moving forward until she finds her man. This truly illustrates the woman’s determination to use traveling as a pathway for personal discovery. The woman is not sure if she will find her man, but she knows that she will have the freedom to explore her own wants along the journey. Not only does this song express personal discovery along the journey, it communicates how preparing for traveling is important for the woman’s personal discovery based on what she decides to travel with: “I’m standin’ here wonderin’ will a matchbox hold my clothes/ Lord, I’m standin’ here wonderin’ will a matchbox hold my clothes/ I got a trunk too big to be botherin’ with on the road” (ll.6-9). These lines suggest that the most important part of the journey may not be finding her man, but instead the woman finding her true self. Choosing to travel without luggage symbolizes the …show more content…

Even though African Americans were free to travel after the emancipation of slavery, it was more likely for an African American male to travel than an African American female. Rainey directly challenged this norm through the content of her songs and influenced the African American females in her audience to do the same. In an interview about the audience reactions of her song “Traveling Blues” Rainey expressed, “Then I sing. You could just see them jigs wanting to go some place else” (Davis 74). This line exposes the longing to travel that some African American females in Rainey’s audience felt, but might have not acted on because it was not viewed as acceptable. However, the more Rainey sang songs about the African American female traveling and moving towards her own freedom, the more normalized that idea became.
Gertrude “Ma” Rainey’s, songs “Traveling Blues” and “Lost Wandering Blues” are two of her works that share the theme of traveling. While they both share the same theme, “Traveling Blues” epitomizes how the ability to travel became an expression of independence, and “Lost Wandering Blues” illustrates the use of traveling as a tool for personal discovery for the African American female. Moreover, Rainey’s decision to sing

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