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Categories: Books

Celebrating National Poetry Month with Langston Hughes

April is National Poetry Month so I am celebrating it by sharing a little  about my favorite poet of all times, Langston Hughes.  Hughes is one of the most famous and prolific poets and writers of the Harlem Rennaissance period in America. That period was the birthplace of a great number of incredible poetry that has influenced my life. One of my favorite gifts of all time a book, The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes My husband bought me this paperback volume about ten years as a birthday gift and I have read it so much it is getting a little worn and crumpled. I have been a Langston Hughes fan since I was a young child. I like his books as well as his poems. He is my all time favorite. If anyone wants to get me in a good mood, pull out some Langston Hughes verses and I will melt in your hands. My husband just has to mention some of my favorite Langston lines and turn to putty in his hands.

The following poem is my favorite poem of all times, I see it as a metaphor for my life as a woman, a wife and a mother. My life has not been a crystal stair, but I am still climbing, still moving and still succeeding.

Mother to Son 

Well, son, I’ll tell you:

Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

It’s had tacks in it,

And splinters,

And boards torn up,

And places with no carpet on the floor—

Bare.

But all the time

I’se been a-climbin’ on,

And reachin’ landin’s,

And turnin’ corners,

And sometimes goin’ in the dark

Where there ain’t been no light.

So, boy, don’t you turn back.

Don’t you set down on the steps.

‘Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.

Don’t you fall now—

For I’se still goin’, honey,

I’se still climbin’,

And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

 

 

I do not have the space to share all the rest of my favorite poems, so I will just share a few lines from a few of my favorite poems. Sit back, relax and enjoy these beautiful words. Once you have read each, take a moment to sit back and just enjoy the rythym and flow of the words.

 

Dream Variations

To fling my arms wide

In some place of the sun,

To whirl and to dance

Till the white day is done.

Then rest at cool evening

Beneath a tall tree

While night comes on gently,

Dark like me-

That is my dream!

 

I like this one because of the freedom and imagery of flinging arms, dancing with wild abandon and then being enveloped by my friend, the night.

 

The following poem I liked as a child because I pictured myself walking along these great and glorious rivers instead of along the Schykill River in Philadelphia.

Negro Speaks of Rivers

. . .

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young

I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.

I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.

I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln

went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy

bosom turn all golden in the sunset

. . .

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

 

 

I like the following poem because it paints such a beautiful picture in my mind. It reminds me of patriotism and the promise of America.

 

I, Too

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 liked this one because I grew up in the days before a black president was a reality and I dreamed of the day it would come to pass.

I have shared several great poems by a fantastic poet with you. I have bared a little of the real me by sharing my celebration of National Poetry Month with you. So, the question for you this magnificent day is, how are you celebrating the National Poetry Month?

 

Janeane Davis

View Comments

  • Surprisingly....I don't read much poetry but now I may start.

    • I just love Langston Hughes' poetry. I also like Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou, whenever I read it I feel smart, proud, sexy and ALL THAT!!!!

  • Wow, I have not read any of Hughes poetry in a very long time. Thanks for sharing those, I need to introduce my son to them :)

    • You should! I think that many of his poems have stood the test of time.

  • This bought me back to grade school. I went to a Multi-cultural private school and we had to learn a Langston Hughes poem every year. They are still my favorite memories of school.

    • Langston Hughes is my FAVORITE! Since I got my Kindle I don't buy a lot of "real books" but I am buying a new collection of his poetry because my copy is getting so ragged from use. I am glad I gave you an opportunity to remember something good.

  • I LOVE Langston Hughes. His poems were some of the very first that I learned to recite and actually understood.

    • I am glad to learn there is another Langston Hughes fan nearby!

  • What do you mean the Schykill River is not glorious??? LOL

    Thanks for shining the light on Poetry month. I was unaware.

    Mother to Son is very inspiring!!!

    • Mother to Son, is my favorite poem ever! I just identify with it so much, keep moving, keep going no matter what.

  • I haven't read Mother to Son in soooo long! Wow, I think I'm a little inspired now. I think I'll celebrate National Poetry Month by creating a couple of my own!

    • Ooooohhhhh. Tracy that sounds exciting. Please make sure you share some of your creations!

  • It's been far too long since I read poetry. I think I shall celebrate April by breaking out my Charles Bukowski collections.

    • I had to go and google Charles Bukowski! I am glad I did he sounds interesting.

  • Langston Hughes is one of my favorites from high school. I was blessed to have an English teacher interested in focusing on all the greats of literature.

  • Langston Hughes is special to me, too. When I was teaching 2nd grade, there was a boy I sometimes had difficulty reaching...but I found he loved the "beat" created by reading Hughes' poems aloud...so I did a lot of that over the course of that year!

    • That boy was fortunate he had a wonderful and creative teacher like you who was able to work and find ways to reach him!

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