An Analysis of the Poem Night Funeral in Harlem

African American poet and author Langston Hughes wrote a poem titled Night Funeral in Harlem. Hughes describes a society’s poor man’s funeral in this poem. A careful reading of the poem revealed that the deceased lacked the primary insurance that would have made his funeral easier (Hughes 5). Due to the lack of funds allocated for the funeral’s administration, many people anticipated a disorganised service. But something unexpected happened. The people in his village showed him respect and affection, so even though the burial was simple, it was good. The attendees gave in every way to make the funeral magnificent.

The poem’s main idea is that, contrary to what many people believe, worldly or materialistic items are not essential for civilization. In this scenario, having material items that are left over after someone passes away does not make us happy in the long run. Instead, as they are the cornerstones of society, people should aspire to love and devotion. On account of the attendees’ lack of understanding of the mentioned ideals, a bad funeral was anticipated. We remain joyful because of love, connections, and happiness.

The poet establishes the relationship between the subjects and the poem’s message by utilising a variety of elements. For instance, the poet employs repletion, in which the poem’s title, Night in Funeral Harlem, is repeated several times. The purpose of this is to show the readers and other interested parties the significance of the boy’s passing and everything done. As a result, for instance, the coming together was due to the boy’s passing.

Additionally, the poet conveys certain subliminal implications with the word insurance. Coverage in this context relates to longevity and denotes a loss of life. In today’s world, people purchase insurance to protect themselves from common situations that could require emergency care. But in this instance, the young youngster died in poverty since he did not spend any insurance. Through this, the author reminds readers that in addition to the young man’s poverty, his life ends and his burial does not include insurance.

The poetry also has a genuine and moving tone. This reflects how the deceased man’s friends felt about him. In addition to sound, the author employs other literary devices, like the insurance agent described in the preceding paragraph. 


A thorough analysis of the poem reveals how important the youngster was to society both during and after his life. As a result, the poem encourages us to value simple things rather than only complicated ones.

“Night Funeral in Harlem,” by Langston Hughes, from The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. (1994).


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