Published on Academy of American Poets (https://poets.org)


Night Funeral in Harlem

     Night funeral
     In Harlem:

     Where did they get
     Them two fine cars?

Insurance man, he did not pay—
His insurance lapsed the other day—
Yet they got a satin box
for his head to lay.

     Night funeral
     In Harlem:

     Who was it sent
     That wreath of flowers?

Them flowers came
from that poor boy's friends—
They'll want flowers, too,
When they meet their ends.

     Night funeral
     in Harlem:

     Who preached that
     Black boy to his grave?

Old preacher man
Preached that boy away—
Charged Five Dollars
His girl friend had to pay.

     Night funeral
     In Harlem:

When it was all over
And the lid shut on his head
and the organ had done played
and the last prayers been said
and six pallbearers
Carried him out for dead
And off down Lenox Avenue
That long black hearse done sped,
     The street light
     At his corner
     Shined just like a tear— That boy that they was mournin'
Was so dear, so dear
To them folks that brought the flowers,
To that girl who paid the preacher man—
It was all their tears that made
     That poor boy's
     Funeral grand.

     Night funeral
     In Harlem.

Credit


From The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Copyright © 1994 the Estate of Langston Hughes. Used with permission.

Author


Langston Hughes

A poet, novelist, fiction writer, and playwright, Langston Hughes is known for his insightful, colorful portrayals of black life in America from the twenties through the sixties and was important in shaping the artistic contributions of the Harlem Renaissance.

Date Published: 1994-01-01

Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/night-funeral-harlem