Voice of the Renaissance

The Poetry of Langston Hughes

hughes.jpg (7465 bytes) The South

The lazy, laughing South

With blood in it’s mouth

The suny-faced South

Beast-strong,

Idiot-brained.

The child-minded South

Scratching in the dead fire’s ashes

For a Negro’s bones.

Cotton and the moon,

Warmth, earth, warmth,

The sky, the sun, the stars,

The magnolia-scented South.

Beautiful, like a woman,

Seductive as a dark-eyed whore,

Passionate, cruel,

Honey-lipped, syphilitic -

That is the South.

An I, who am black, would love her

But she spits in my face,

And I, who am black,

Would give her many rare gifts

But she turns upon me.

So now I seek the North -

The cold-faced North,

For she, they say,

Is a kinder mistress,

And in her house my children

May escape the spell of the South.

I, Too

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.

Tomorrow,

I’ll be at the table

When company comes

Nobody’ll dare

Say to me,

"Eat in the kitchen,"

Then.

Besides,

They’ll see how beautiful I am

And be ashamed -

I, too, am America.

As I Grew Older

It was a long time ago,

I have almost forgotten my dream.

But is was there then,

In front of me,

Bright like the sun -

My dream.

And then the wall rose,

Rose slowly,

Slowly,

Between me and my dream.

Rose slowly, slowly,

Dimming,

Hiding,

The light of my dream.

Rose until it touched the sky -

The wall.

Shadow.

I am black.

I lie down in the shadow.

No longer the light of my dream before me,

Above me.

Only the thick wall.

Only the shadow.

My hands!

My dark hands!

Break through the wall!

Find my dream!

Help me to shatter this darkness,

To smash this night,

To break this shadow

Into a thousand lights of sun,

Into a thousand whirling dreams

Of sun!