Langston Hughes

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Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes was a popular American poet, novelist, and playwright during the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s. His African themes made him a primary contributor to the Harlem Renaissance.

Well, son, I'll tell you:Life for me a'int been no crystal stairIt's had tacks in it,And splinters,And boards torn up,and places with no carpet on the floorBare.But all the timei'se been a-climbin' on, And reaching landin's,And turnin' corners,And sometimes goin' in the darkWhere there a'int been no light,So, boy, don't you turn back.Don't you set down on the steps'Cause you finds it kinder hard.Don't you fall nowFor I'se still goin', honey,I'se still climbin',And life for me a'int been no crystal stair

"Mother to Son"

The Gist

I've known riversI've known rivers ancient as the world and older than theflow of human blood in human veins.My soul has grown deep like the 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 Lincolnwent down to New Orleans, and I've seen its muddybosom turn all golden in the sunset.I've known riversAncient, dusky rivers.My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

Biography After his birth, Langston Hughes moved around with his mother until he finally settled in Cleveland, Ohio. This was when he first started to write poetry. His teachers later introduced him to Carl Sandburg and Walt Whitman, whom Hughes later cites as primary influences. Around 1920, Hughes's poem "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" was published in The Crisis magazine and was highly praised. In 1921 Hughes enrolled in Columbia University, this was when he first became a part of Harlem's cultural movement.

"The Negro Speaks of Rivers"

Langston Hughes

Langston HughesBorn Feburry 1st 1902, Joplin, MissouriDied May 22nd 1967, New York City

Langston Hughes's House

People describe Langston Hughes's poetry to be "jazz-poetry." Jazz Poetry is poetry that demonstrates jazz-like rhythm and sounds. Although early jazz poetry didn't mimic sounds, it instead referenced jazz in the form of allusions.

Poetry Style


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