"Mother to Son"
by Langston Hughes
Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
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.
Ah, yes, I wrote the “Purple Cow”—
I’m Sorry, now, I wrote it;
But I can tell you Anyhow
I’ll Kill you if you Quote it!
“My Light with Yours”
When the sea has devoured the ships,
And the spires and the towers
Have gone back to the hills.
And all the cities
Are one with the plains again.
And the beauty of bronze,
And the strength of steel
Are blown over silent continents,
As the desert sand is blown—
My dust with yours forever.
When folly and wisdom are no more,
And fire is no more,
Because man is no more;
When the dead world slowly spinning
Drifts and falls through the void—
My light with yours
In the Light of Lights forever!
“The Slave Mother”
“Let the Light Enter”
She took my strength by minutes, She took my life by hours, She drained me like a fevered moon That saps the spinning world. The days went by like shadows, The minutes wheeled like stars. She took the pity from my heart, And made it into smiles. She was a hunk of sculptor’s clay, My secret thoughts were fingers: They flew behind her pensive brow And lined it deep with pain. They set the lips, and sagged the cheeks, And drooped the eyes with sorrow. My soul had entered in the clay, Fighting like seven devils. It was not mine, it was not hers; She held it, but its struggles Modeled a face she hated, And a face I feared to see. I beat the windows, shook the bolts. I hid me in a corner-- And then she died and haunted me, And hunted me for life.