Saga of Shine Poems collection, 1952-1955 | Amistad Research Center
Physical Description: Good
Scope and Contents: A collection of six typescript poems with a title page "Saga of Shine: Various Folk Versions of a Rhymed Negro Folk Poem as Collected by Langston Hughes, 1952-1955." Variously known as "Shine and the Titanic," "Shine on the Titanic," "Shine and the Great Titanic," or simply "Shine," this African American vernacular poem, typically rhymed and often bawdy, involves a Black deckhand who swims to safety amidst the sinking of the Titanic. The collected versions here are attributed to the Embassy Bar (October 1955), Alvin Cooper (New York, 1953), Jerry (Bronx, 1952), Charlie McCoy (April 14, 1953), Guy Powell (Baby Grand, NY, January 1953), and a version compiled from several for a column in the Defender. This latter version is cited in the 1958 publication The Book of Negro Folklore as "Sinking of the Titanic," where it is attributed as "a Harlem variant of his story as heard by Langston Hughes on Eighth Avenue in 1956." This version begins with "It was 1912 when the news got around / That the great Titanic was going down." It ends with the couplet "When all them white folks went to heaven / Shine was in Sugar Ray's in Harlem drinking Seagrams Seven."