Langston Hughes: Before and Beyond Harlem



Still Here
been scared and battered.
My hopes the wind done scattered.

Snow has friz me,
Sun has baked me,

Looks like between 'em they done .
Tried to make me

Stop laughin', stop lovin', stop livin'--
But I don't care!
I'm still here!

Langston Hughes


Langston Hughes was born February 1,1902 in Missouri. He was the second son of James Nathaniel Hughes and Carrie Mercer Langston Hughes. He was raised by his grandmother until he was thirteen because his parents were divorced. His big influences were Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Carl Sandburg, and Walt Whitman. Hughes is mostly known for his views on black life in America which was one of his main topics when it came to his poetry. He wrote plays, novels, and short stories along with poetry. His work was enormously important in forming the artistic contributions of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. Harlem Renaissance refers to a period of time of written and artistic creativity among African-Americans. Langston Hughes later died of complications from prostate cancer in May 22, 1967.

"Something about my grandmother's stories
taught me the uselessness of crying
about anything." (8)
Hughes obviously respected his
grandmother and learned
alot from her. She taught him to
be strong and instead of crying,
he expressed his emotions
in poems.

Poems from Before and Beyond Harlem

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die,
Life is a broken winged bird
That cannot fly. (171)

Dreams are like goals
and if you don't have goals
in life than what will you do?
Let us kill off youth.
For the sake of truth.

We who are old know what truth is -
Truth is a bundle of vicious lies
Tied together and sterilized -
A war-makers' bait for unwise youth
For the sake of
Truth. (302)

Hughes seemed to have felt that war
was pointless. He thought the young
men who fought in war were naive
and were being fooled by the
Life is for the living
Death is for the dead
Let life be like music
And death a note unsaid. (255)

Hughes wrote this peom two
months before a war in Spain. The tone
is kind of humerous but also tells
us how he feels about life.
He compares life to music which
is usaully a happy thing.
Oh, the sea is deep
And a knife is sharp
And a poison acid burns;
But they all bring rest
In a deep, long sleep
For which the tired soul yearns-
They all bring rest in a nothingness
From where no road returns. (47)

The poem shows that there were times
where Langston Hughes was probably
deppressed. He wrote many other
poems like this one to show his
depression and longing to finally be
at peace.
Plant your toes in the cool swamp mud;
Step and leave no track.
Hurry, sweating runner!
The hounds are at your back.

No I didn't touch her.
White flesh ain't for me.

Hurry! Black boy, hurry!
Or they'll swing you to a tree! (119)

Hughes is trying to show us an
example of how an Afican American
is done for once he is accused.
Even if he is telling the truth, he
will be found guitly if the white
man thinks he is.


American History seems to be a bunch of never ending stories. There is always something new to learn and I definetly learned alot through Langston Hughes. I learned about his life as an African American poet. I saw through his eyes thanks to his poems and learned a lot more.

Works Cited
Berry, Faith. Langston Hughes: Before and Beyond Harlem. Wesport, CT: Lawrence Hill and Company,, Inc. 1-330.
Goodman, Mary A. "Langston Hughes." 1997. Http:// 28 Nov. 2008 <http://>.
Jackson, Andrew P. "James Langston Hughes." The Red Hott Jazz Archive. 28 Nov. 2008 <http://>.
"Langston Hughes." 1 Dec. 2008 <http://>.

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