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Langston Hughes and His Jazz Shoes

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Life and Times
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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—
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.

This is my favorite poem by Langston Hughes, because I can relate it to my life so far. I have experienced many difficulties, like most people, but I have gotten past them all. I imagine that one day I will tell my son, Luke, that my life hasn’t been no crystal stair either. I would like to tell him that even though life has thrown me many curve balls I kept doing what I had to do to get on. I think there is a good lesson in that. I think the point of this poem is a mother telling her son that if you give up, even for a short period of time, it’s much harder to pick back up again. But with all hardships there is something to be learned as a result.

Bad Morning

Here I sit
With my shoes mismated.
I's frustrated!

This is my least favorite poem, because I think it’s pretty pointless. I can see the humor of it, but I think that a good poem has to have some kind of a message. I don’t think this poem has a message. I mean, the speaker can’t find a matching pair of shoes. This problem isn’t anything that one is going to remember in a month or even a week, so why write a poem about it?

The Negro Mother
  Children, I come back today
To tell you a story of the long dark way
That I had to climb, that I had to know
In order that the race might live and grow.
Look at my face -- dark as the night --
Yet shining like the sun with love's true light.
I am the dark girl who crossed the red sea
Carrying in my body the seed of the free.
I am the woman who worked in the field
Bringing the cotton and the corn to yield.
I am the one who labored as a slave,
Beaten and mistreated for the work that I gave --
Children sold away from me, I'm husband sold, too.
No safety , no love, no respect was I due.

Three hundred years in the deepest South:
But God put a song and a prayer in my mouth .
God put a dream like steel in my soul.
Now, through my children, I'm reaching the goal.

Now, through my children, young and free,
I realized the blessing deed to me.
I couldn't read then. I couldn't write.
I had nothing, back there in the night.
Sometimes, the valley was filled with tears,
But I kept trudging on through the lonely years.
Sometimes, the road was hot with the sun,
But I had to keep on till my work was done:
I had to keep on! No stopping for me --
I was the seed of the coming Free.
I nourished the dream that nothing could smother
Deep in my breast -- the Negro mother.
I had only hope then , but now through you,
Dark ones of today, my dreams must come true:
All you dark children in the world out there,
Remember my sweat, my pain, my despair.
Remember my years, heavy with sorrow --
And make of those years a torch for tomorrow.
Make of my pass a road to the light
Out of the darkness, the ignorance, the night.
Lift high my banner out of the dust.
Stand like free men supporting my trust.
Believe in the right, let none push you back.
Remember the whip and the slaver's track.
Remember how the strong in struggle and strife
Still bar you the way, and deny you life --
But march ever forward, breaking down bars.
Look ever upward at the sun and the stars.
Oh, my dark children, may my dreams and my prayers
Impel you forever up the great stairs --
For I will be with you till no white brother
Dares keep down the children of the Negro Mother.
Langston Hughes', The Negro Mother is a great poem because it has great rhythm and rhyme. The last syllable of each 2 lines are the same and it brings a lot to the story that goes on in the poem. It tells a story of coming to America and of the slavery of African Americans, but it tells it from an ever positive point of view. Langston was a black man, but he tells the story from a woman's point of view. I think that this view adds to the poem, making a motherly voice seem to be watching over all of the negros. The poem is great because it tells of the endless progression of the African Americans and tells them to keep going because the sky is the limit and no one can hold them back.

Walkers with the Dawn

Being walkers with the dawn and morning,
Walkers with the sun and morning,
We are not afraid of night,
Nor days of gloom,
Nor darkness--
Being walkers with the sun and morning.

Walkers with the Dawn is my choice of Langston Hughes' worst poem. The first and last lines are the same, the word "morning" is used three times in a poem that is just too short and there's not enough content to understand what he's really trying to say. I really don't like the three lines "We are not afraid of night," "Nor days of gloom," and "Nor darkness" they don't seem to me to have anything to do with walking at dawn. Dawn is when the sun comes up, I really think this poem is bad!