Today in Seminar, all the students received a poem to study and recite for the next class. While Professor Kahan was giving out the poems, I was eagerly waiting for mine. In all honesty, I was hoping for a comical poem and was a bit disappointed when I was given, Night Funeral in Harlem by Langston Hughes. Fortunately, this poem was an enjoyable read and I had a good time analyzing it.
From reading the poem over and over, I developed a brief analysis. I think the poem was about a poor family or group of friends in Harlem that were not able to afford life insurance. Since they could not pay for life insurance, they were not able to provide a professional funeral service for a loved one that passed away. Instead, the friends of the loved one paid for a cheap funeral service in which they did the majority of the work. Even though the event was not an expensive one, it was still a highly meaningful funeral because the friends of the loved one came together to mourn his death. Essentially, I think the poem portrayed that as long as there were loved ones to mourn the death of a friend or family member, the financial aspect of a funeral held little significance. In addition, since Hughes placed the setting of the poem in Harlem, he probably thought that funerals such as these commonly occurred in Harlem communities.
I was surprised that I enjoyed reading this poem so much. Usually, I dislike reading poems but since we started going over poetry in Seminar, my thoughts on this medium are changing.