Read Selected Poems of Langston Hughes by Langston Hughes Free Online
Book Title: Selected Poems of Langston Hughes|
The author of the book: Langston Hughes
Edition: Turtleback Books
Date of issue: September 12th 1990
ISBN 13: 9780808509264
Loaded: 1543 times
Reader ratings: 7.8
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 950 KB
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Langston Hughes was one of America's master writers of the twentieth century. For over forty years, he used his time to write, lecture, and promote better conditions for African Americans through his work. Most known for his poetry, Hughes also wrote a variety of works including song lyrics, a play, and an autobiography. Hughes chose the poems in Selected Poems shortly before his death in 1967 and included most of his well known work. Selected Poems is collection befitting of an American master.
I remember reading "Mother to Son" when I was in school. We had to analyze it and then use the style to write our own poetry. The last line still stands out for me, "life ain't been no crystal stair." Hughes discusses how the African American experience has been full of hardships. In this particular poem he has a mother convey to her son to work extra hard so he has the opportunity to make something more of his life. In the same section, a family throws a celebration for Mary Lou Jackson because she received a diploma and can now get a job. Even if it is low level job, at least she will be earning money and assisting her family.
Unfortunately, life was rarely a crystal stair for African Americans when Hughes wrote the majority of his poetry. A line that is still recognized today is "if you're white, you're all right...if you're black, Get back!" This was written when the Migration north and west was beginning. Hughes writes of the poor conditions of the south and how African Americans rode a freedom train out of this sometimes horrid existence. He goes on to describe the contrast of the bright lights in Harlem and Chicago to the fear of being lynched and killed just for being black in the South. Even though the Migration was just picking up steam at the time when he wrote, Hughes recognized the opportunity for freedom for his people and encouraged them to move in his writing.
The plight of African Americans can best be summed up in Hughes' ending two sections. His montage of a dream deferred explains how a man can to keep dropping out of school to help his family and then was held back a grade when they moved north. Finally at age twenty he is ready to graduate and he feels too old to first be starting out in life. Hughes ends the collection with powerful words by quoting Jefferson, Lincoln, and Frederick Douglass. "Better to die free, than to live slaves," he motivates his people, and "Keep your hand on the plow! Hold on!" The American dream is for all people as long as they keep a positive outlook on life and make the best of the opportunities granted them.
I am participating in an African American history month challenge this year, and I have both fiction and nonfiction books lined up to read. I am glad that I started the month with poetry written by a true American master. Hughes voice speaks of the raw emotions of what African Americans experienced and he used his voice as a platform to better their conditions. A powerful collection, I rate Langston Hughes' Selected Poems a full 5 bright stars.
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Read information about the authorLangston Hughes was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, short story writer, and columnist. He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form jazz poetry. Hughes is best known for his work during the Harlem Renaissance. He famously wrote about the period that "Harlem was in vogue."
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