Saturday Seven: My Favourite Langston Hughes Poems

Saturday Seven is hosted by Long and Short Reviews.

 As I mentioned several weeks ago, once a month I’ll use a Saturday Seven post to talk about a poet that I like. Emily Dickinson was the poet I talked about in March, and Langston Hughes is my choice for April.

Langston Hughes was one of the leaders of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s, and he also invented an entirely new style of poetry called jazz poetry that has influenced generations of writers and other creative folks.

His writing style was conversational. The poems he wrote often sounded like something friends might say to each other over a cup of coffee or while playing cards.

I also love the fact that he wrote about black, working class people, a portion of the population that was generally ignored altogether by literary circles when he was alive.

Since Mr. Hughes lived until 1967, the copyrights on his poems have not yet expired. I’ll be sharing brief excerpts from them and then linking to a site where you can read the entire poem.

1. From Harlem:

What happens to a dream deferred?
      Does it dry up
      like a raisin in the sun?
My name is Johnson—
Madam Alberta K.
The Madam stands for business.
I’m smart that way.
3. From 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,
I looked and saw
the man they called the Law.
Oh, I wish that yesterday,
Yesterday was today.
Yesterday you was here.
Today you gone away.
Babies and gin and church
And women and Sunday
All mixed with dimes and
Dollars and clean spittoons
I’ve known rivers:
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.
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8 Responses to Saturday Seven: My Favourite Langston Hughes Poems

    • Hi Lisabet,

      Raisin in the Sun is probably Hughes’ best-known poem, and for good reason. Isn’t the imagery in it fantastic?!

      I used to write poetry years ago, but I haven’t written anything new in ages. Your comment makes me wonder if I should take that hobby up again.

  1. I think his poetry is more “reachable” to common folk. There are times I read poetry and it’s so far out there I don’t even understand it. What’s the point then? His is just words, strung together magically, that still just make sense. Great choice!

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