Born February 1st, 1902, Langston Hughes was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist. He was one of the first innovators of jazz poetry and a leader of the Harlem Renaissance.
Langston Hughes is one of the first poets I ever studied in earnest. You probably did too. Remember freshman English?
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
I remember learning about imagery and metaphor with this gorgeous poem. It was the first poem I ever truly internalized and thought through. It’s so vivid and awful about regret and the deference of dreams. It’s heady stuff.
Poetry has a way of elevating, clarifying, and distilling meaning. I don’t read poetry very often. I tend to forget about poetry. But whenever I catch an inspired phrase like these from Langston Hughes I’m taken aback and my appreciation grows.
“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.”
“Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby.”
“Like a welcome summer rain, humor may suddenly cleanse and cool the earth, the air and you.”
“Humor is laughing at what you haven’t got when you ought to have it.”
“An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he might choose.”
“I swear to the Lord, I still can’t see, why Democracy means, everybody but me.”
“I have discovered in life that there are ways of getting almost anywhere you want to go, if you really want to go.”
“To some people Love is given, to others, only Heaven.”
“Life is for the living.
Death is for the dead.
Let life be like music.
And death a note unsaid.”
I hope these bits of poetry helped to elevate and brighten your day. Happy Birthday, Langston Hughes.
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