“Harlem”: “a community in transition”

Below is a manuscript of Langston Hughes’ “Harlem” (image via Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library).  Notice that above “Harlem” is a draft of a poem called “Good Morning,” which follows “Harlem” in the book Montage of  Dream Deferred (1951). 

Hughes considered Montage as one long poem and “Harlem” is only a small excerpt from it; in his own words, “this poem on contemporary Harlem, like be-bop, is marked by conflicting changes, sudden nuances, sharp and impudent interjections, broken rhythms, and passages sometimes in the manner of the jam session, sometimes the popular song, punctuated by the riffs, runs, breaks, and distortions of the music of a community in transition.”        

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