Langston Hughes

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Life is nothing but a competition to be the criminal rather than the victim.
Bertrand Russell
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I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the
flow of human blood in human veins.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

Langston Hughes (1902-02-01 - 1967-05-22) was an American poet, novelist, playwright and newspaper columnist.


  • 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, Too, Sing America," in the magazine Survey Graphic (March 1925); reprinted in Selected Poems (1959)
  • They'll see how beautiful I am
    And be ashamed —
    I, too, am America.
    • "I, Too, Sing America," in the magazine Survey Graphic (March 1925); reprinted in Selected Poems (1959)
  • The night is beautiful,
    So are the faces of my people.
    • "My People," in the magazine Poems in Crisis (October 1923); reprinted in The Weary Blues (1926)
  • I've known rivers:
    I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the
    flow of human blood in human veins.
    My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
    • "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," from The Weary Blues (1926)
  • I've known rivers:
    Ancient, dusky rivers.
    My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
    • "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," from The Weary Blues (1926)
  • The stars went out and so did the moon.
    The singer stopped playing and went to bed
    While the Weary Blues echoed through his head.
    He slept like a rock or a man that's dead.
    • "The Weary Blues," from The Weary Blues (1926)
  • Way Down South in Dixie
    (Break the heart of me)
    They hung my black young lover
    To a cross roads tree.
    • "Song for a Dark Girl" (l. 1-4), from Fine Clothes to the Jew (1927)
  • Love is a naked shadow
    On a gnarled and naked tree.
    • Song for a Dark Girl (l. 11-12), from Fine Clothes to the Jew (1927)
  • While over Alabama earth
    These words are gently spoken:
    Serve — and hate will die unborn.
    Love — and chains are broken.
    • "Alabama Earth (at Booker Washington's grave)," from the anthology Golden Slippers: An Anthology of Negro Poetry for Young Readers (1941), ed. Arna Bontemps
  • Hold fast to dreams
    For if dreams die
    Life is a broken-winged bird
    That cannot fly.
    • "Dreams," from the anthology Golden Slippers: An Anthology of Negro Poetry for Young Readers, ed. Arna Bontemps (1941)
  • I was so sick last night I
    Didn't hardly know my mind.
    So sick last night I
    Didn't know my mind.
    I drunk some bad licker that
    Almost made me blind.
    • "Morning After," (l. 1-6), from Shakespeare in Harlem (1942)
  • I swear to the Lord
    I still can't see
    Why Democracy means
    Everybody but me.
    • "The Black Man Speaks," from Jim Crow's Last Stand (1943)

Let America Be America Again, from A New Song (1938)

  • Let America be America again.
    Let it be the dream it used to be.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 clutching the hope I seek —
    And finding only the same old stupid plan
    Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.
  • For all the dreams we've dreamed
    And all the songs we've sung
    And all the hopes we've held
    And all the flags we've hung,
    The millions who have nothing for our pay —
    Except the dream that's almost dead today.
  • O, let America be America again —
    The land that never has been yet —
    And yet must be — the land where every man is free.
  • Sure, call me any ugly name you choose —
    The steel of freedom does not stain.
    From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
    We must take back our land again,
  • O, yes,
    I say it plain,
    America never was America to me,
    And yet I swear this oath —
    America will be!
  • Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
    The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
    We, the people, must redeem
    The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
    The mountains and the endless plain —
    All, all the stretch of these great green states —
    And make America again!

Montage of a Dream Deferred (1951)

  • My motto,
    As I live and learn,
    Dig And Be Dug
    In Return.
    • "Motto"
  • When you turn the corner
    And you run into yourself
    Then you know that you have turned
    All the corners that are left.
    • "Final Curve"
  • Good evening, daddy
    I know you’ve heard
    The boogie-woogie rumble
    Of a dream deferred
    • "Boogie: 1 a.m."
  • Why should it be my loneliness,
    Why should it be my song,
    Why should it be my dream
    • "Tell Me"
  • What happens
    to a dream deferred?
    Daddy, ain’t you heard?
    • "Good Morning"
  • What happens to a dream deferred?
    Does it dry up
    like a raisin in the sun?

    Or fester like a sore
    And then run?
    Does it stink like rotten meat?
    Or crust and sugar over
    like a syrupy sweet?
    Maybe it just sags
    like a heavy load.
    Or does it explode?
    • "Harlem"
  • There’s a certain
    amount of traveling
    in a dream deferred.
    • "Same in Blues"
  • A certain amount
    of nothing
    in a dream deferred.
    • "Same in Blues"
  • Daddy, daddy, daddy,
    All I want is you.
    You can have me, baby —
    but my lovin’ days is through.
    A certain amount
    of impotence
    in a dream deferred.
    • "Same in Blues"
  • You talk like they
    don’t kick dreams
    around downtown.
    • "Comment on Curb"
  • Democracy will not come
    Today, this year
    Nor ever
    Through compromise and fear.
    • "Democracy"
  • I tire so of hearing people say,
    Let things take their course.
    Tomorrow is another day.

    I do not need my freedom when I’m dead.
    I cannot live on tomorrow’s bread.
Is a strong seed
In a great need.
I live here, too.
  • "Democracy"
  • Dream within a dream,
    Our dream deferred.
    Good morning, daddy!
    Ain’t you heard?
    • "Island"
  • The instructor said,

Go home and write
a page tonight.
And let that page come out of you—
Then, it will be true.

I wonder if it’s that simple?
I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem.
I went to school there, then Durham, then here
to this college on the hill above Harlem.
I am the only colored student in my class.
The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem,
through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas,
Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y,
the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator
up to my room, sit down, and write this page:

It’s not easy to know what is true for you or me
at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I’m what
I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you.
hear you, hear me—we two—you, me, talk on this page.
(I hear New York, too.) Me—who?

Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.
I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.
I like a pipe for a Christmas present,
or records—Bessie, bop, or Bach.
I guess being colored doesn’t make me not like
the same things other folks like who are other races.
So will my page be colored that I write?
Being me, it will not be white.
But it will be
a part of you, instructor.
You are white—
yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.
That’s American.
Sometimes perhaps you don’t want to be a part of me.
Nor do I often want to be a part of you.
But we are, that’s true!
As I learn from you,
I guess you learn from me—
although you’re older—and white—
and somewhat more free.

This is my page for English B.

    • "Theme from English B"


  • Beauty for some provides escape, who gain a happiness in eyeing the gorgeous buttocks of the ape or Autumn sunsets exquisitely dying.
  • Humor is laughing at what you haven't got when you ought to have it.
  • Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.
  • Like a welcome summer rain, humor may suddenly cleanse and cool the earth, the air and you.
  • Negroes — Sweet and docile, Meek, humble, and kind: Beware the day — They change their mind.
  • We Negro writers, just by being black, have been on the blacklist all our lives ... Censorship for us begins at the color line.
  • When peoples care for you and cry for you, they can straighten out your soul.
  • No woman can be handsome by the force of features alone, any more that she can be witty by only the help of speech.
  • To create a market for your writing you have to be consistent, professional, a continuing writer - not just a one-article or a one-story or a one-book man.

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