Study Guide

Song for a Dark Girl Speaker

By Langston Hughes


This is one poem in which we have a clear cut case of the speaker being quite different from the author. While both are black, and are connected by the persecution of their race, Langston Hughes is male, and this one's for the girls.

Okay, so she's young enough to be considered a girl, but old enough to have a young lover. We're going to go out on a limb (gasp!) and guess that she's high school age, maybe just shy of 18. Maybe her lover is her first love, and she's caught up in the excitement of loving him… until she sees him hanging from a tree.

She lives down South, which means we'd bet good money she's heard someone singing "Dixie," the unofficial Confederate anthem. That could be the influence for the refrain in this poem. And that means, folks, that this speaker has one sharp sense of irony.

Considering that she asks Jesus what the use of prayer is, we're guessing that, at least before this event, she was Christian. But after this, who knows if she'll be going back to church. She certainly doesn't seem to be much for praying anymore.