Can you summarize the poem "Trumpet Player" by Hughes?I have to write to a paper on it

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pirateteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Hughes poem "Trumpet Player" is a five stanza (paragraph) poem where each stanza has 8 lines and 1 coda (a repeat used in music).  Written in the style of his other jazz poems, "Trumpet Player" is set in a bar where a trumpet player begins telling his story.  His story is that of the African American experience during this time in the US.

The Negro
With the trumpet at his lips
Has dark moons of weariness
Beneath his eyes
where the smoldering memory
of slave ships
Blazed to the crack of whips
about thighs

This first stanza looks at the dark circles that are around the trumpet player's eyes.  Hughes alludes to the slave trade and horrific Middle Passage which brought the trumpet players ancestors to the country.

The negro
with the trumpet at his lips
has a head of vibrant hair
tamed down,
patent-leathered now
until it gleams
like jet—
were jet a crown

The second stanza looks at the player's hair.  The natural hair has been "tamed" or chemically processed to mimic the styles of the time.

the music
from the trumpet at his lips
is honey
mixed with liquid fire
the rhythm
from the trumpet at his lips
is ecstasy
distilled from old desire

The third stanza moves from the player's physical attributes to his song. His song is compared to liquor.  The sound has been "distilled" and is, "is honey mixed with liquid fire" that fills both him and the listener with "desire".

that is longing for the moon
where the moonlight's but a spotlight
in his eyes,
that is longing for the sea
where the sea's a bar-glass
sucker size

Stanza four tells what this desire is- a longing for serenity free from the past, but instead, his moon is the spotlight on his stage and his sea is just the liquor in his glass.

The Negro
with the trumpet at his lips
whose jacket
Has a fine one-button roll,
does not know
upon what riff the music slips

Stanza five returns to describing the trumpet player and his music.  He seems taken in by his music as he "does not know
upon what riff the music slips"

It's hypodermic needle to his soul
but softly
as the tune comes from his throat
trouble mellows to a golden note

The final stanza, coda, explains how for a moment, the trumpet player's troubles are relieved (like a needle for his soul).  And so, Hughes wraps up a sympathetic poem about a troubled musician who finds solace in the music he plays.

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