African American Poetry (1870-1928): A Digital Anthology

Langston Hughes, "Being Old" (1927)

Being Old

By Langston Hughes

It’s because you are so young,—
You do not understand.
     But we are old
     As the jungle trees
     That bloomed forever;
     Old as the forgotten rivers
     That flowed into the earth.
Surely we know what you do not know:
     Joy of living,
     Uselessness of things.
You are too young to understand yet.
     Build another skyscraper
     Touching the stars.
We sit with our backs against a tree
And watch skyscrapers tumble
And stars forget.
     Solomon built a temple
     And it must have fallen down.
     It isn’t here now.
We know some things, being old,
You do not understand.

Published in The Crisis, October 1927

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