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Langston Hughes was was an unusual man who wrote beautiful and interesting poetry.  His biography and some of his poems can be found below.  I hope that you will love them, as I do.

-- Susanne            





  Langston Hughes Audio
(6 Minutes)

If you have Real player audio software installed, then you can listen to a 6 minute recording of Langston Hughes by clicking on the picture.

For a New York Times feature article on Mr. Hughes, click here.







Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri, in 1902. His parents were divorced when he was a small child and his father moved to Mexico. He was raised by his grandmother until he was twelve, when he moved to Lincoln, Illinois, to live with his mother and her husband. It was during his high school years that Hughes began writing poetry. Following graduation, he spent a year in Mexico and a year at Columbia University and traveled to Africa and Europe. He moved to Harlem, New York, in November 1924. Hughes first book of poetry, The Weary Blues, was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1926. He finished his college education at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania three years later.

Hughes, who claimed Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Carl Sandburg, and Walt Whitman as his primary influences, is particularly known for his insightful, colorful portrayals of black life in America from the twenties through the sixties. He wrote novels, short stories and plays, as well as poetry, and is also known for his engagement with the world of jazz and the influence it had on his writing, as in "Montage of a Dream Deferred." His life and work were enormously important in shaping the artistic contributions of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. Unlike other notable black poets of the period -- Claude McKay, Jean Toomer, and Countee Cullen -- Hughes refused to differentiate between his personal experience and the common experience of black America. He wanted to tell the stories of his people without personalizing them, so the reader could step in and draw his own conclusions. Langston Hughes died in 1967.








I ask you this:
Which way to go?
I ask you this:
Which sin to bear?
Which crown to put
Upon my hair?
I do not know,
Lord God,
I do not know.








She stands
In the quiet darkness,
This troubled woman,
Bowed by weariness and pain,
Like an
Autumn flower
In the frozen rain.
Like a wind-blown autumn flower
That never lifts its head






My soul
Empty as the silence,
Empty with a vague,
Aching emptiness
Needing someone
Something ......







We have tomorrow,
Bright before us

Like a flame.

Yesterday, a night-gone thing
A sun-down name.

And dawn today
Broad arch above the road we came.
We march!







The calm,
Cool face of the river
Asked me for a kiss.






Oh, wash-woman,
Arms elbow-deep in white suds,
Soul washed clean,
Clothes washed clean,
I have many songs to sing to you;
Could I but find the words ......







I know very little to tell you about the Blues.  They always impressed me as being very sad, sadder even than the spirituals because their sadness is not softened with tears but hardened with laughter, the absurd, incongruous laughter of a sadness without even a god to appeal to.  In the Gulf Coast Blues one can feel the cold northern snows, the memory of the melancholy mists of the Louisiana low-lands, the shack that is home, the worthless lovers with hands full of gimme, mouths full of much oblige, the eternal unsatisfied longings.  There seems to be a monotonous melancholy, an animal sadness running through all Negro jazz that is almost terrible at times ........







I , too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I'll sit at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"

They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed, ----

I, too, am America.







This is a song for the genius child.
Sing it softly, for the song is wild.
Sing it softly as ever you can ---
Lest the song get out of hand.

Nobody loves a genius child.

Can you love an eagle,
Tame or wild?

Wild or tame,
Can you love a monster
Of frightening name?

Nobody loves a genius child.

Kill him - and let his soul run wild








Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed -
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant ....






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