Langston Hughes (1902-1967)

For four decades, from 1926, the "Poet Laureate of
Harlem" was the most prolific and popular African-
American writer; he produced 13 volumes of poetry
and many collections of cition, drama, essays,
history and autobiography.

The Negro Speaks of Rivers

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.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to

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 goldenin the sunset.

I've known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul had grown deep like rivers.


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'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen," Then.

They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--
I, too, am America.

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 turning' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So boy, don't you turn your 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.

Song Playing is "My Father How Long"