Langston Hughes, Poetry


Langston Hughes | Poems

Selected and edited by David Roessel
Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets, Alfred A. Knopf, 1999

As a general rule The Board doesn’t read poetry but we – BobbieSue – decided to stretch our collective imagination and read such a book for the Summer Reading Challenge. This selection of poems runs the gamut from love sonnets to songs of everyday life and spirituality as well as calls for change. Mr. Hughes has captured the American culture of the 1920s through the 1960s in a way that still seems fresh in today’s world. I have selected a few for you to read and enjoy.

A Cuban Portrait

The shadows
Of too many nights of love
Have fallen beneath your eyes.
Your eyes,
So full of pain and passion,
So full of lies,
Sp full of pain and passion.
So deeply scarred,
So still with silent eyes.
Pg 39

Colored child at carnival

Where is the Jim Crow section
On this, merry-go-round,
Mister, cause I want to ride?
Down South where I come from
White and colored
Cant’ sit side by side.
Down South on the train
There’s a Jim Crow car.
On the bus we’re put in the back—
But there ain’t no back
To a merry-o-round!
Where’s the horse
For a kid that’s black?
Pg 114

(September 15, 1963)

Four little girls
Who went to Sunday School that day
And never came back home at all
But left instead
Their blood upon the wall
With spattered flesh
And bloodied Sunday dresses
Torn to shreds by dynamite
That China made aeons ago—
Did not know
That what China made
Before China was ever Red at all
Would redden with their blood
This Birmingham-on-Sunday wall.

Four tiny girls
Who left their blood upon that wall,
In little graves today await
The dynamite that might ignite
The fuse of centuries of Dragon Kins
Whose tomorrow sings a hymn
The missionaries never taught Chinese
In Christian Sunday School
To implement the Golden Rule.

Four little girls
Might be awakened someday soon
By songs upon the breeze
As yet unfelt among magnolia trees.
Pgs 163-164

Remembering Four Little Girls  Go HERE for more information

Rating 4 out of 5 paws for the timelessness of Langston Hughes’ poetry.

bobbiesue headshotReviewer: BobbieSue

Langston Hughes

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