Poetry picks, day 4


Today’s poem is another choice from Happy poems chosen by Roger McGough, an edited collection whose merits were extolled in yesterday’s post.  Langston Hughes was a central figure in the Harlem Renaissance of 1920s America: a poet, author, and playwright, who reflected honestly yet hopefully the hard lives of black New Yorkers, ‘people up today and down tomorrow, working this week and fired the next, beaten and baffled, but determined not to be wholly beaten’.  (He died in 1964: a contemporary of mine, if not of yours, younger readers.)



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.
                              Langston Hughes

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