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

Poems by Langston Hughes in "The New Negro" (1925)


I’ve known rivers . . .
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young,
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep,
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when
Abe Lincoln went down to New Orleans,
And I’ve seen its muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset.
I’ve known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers,
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

—Langston Hughes.


It’s an earth song,—
And I’ve been waiting long for an earth song.
It’s a spring song,—
And I’ve been waiting long for a spring song.
Strong as the shoots of a new plant
Strong as the bursting of new buds
Strong as the coming of the first child from its mother’s womb.
It’s an earth song,
A body-song,
A spring song,—
I have been waiting long for this spring song.

—Langston Hughes.


Being walkers with the dawn and morning
Walkers with the sun and morning,
We are not afraid of night,
Nor days of gloom,
Nor darkness,
Being walkers with the sun and morning.

—Langston Hughes.


We have to-morrow
Bright before us
Like a flame
Yesterday, a night-gone thing
A sun-down name
And dawn to-day
Broad arch above the road we came,
We march!

—Langston Hughes.


Lovely, dark, and lonely one,
Bare your bosom to the sun,
Do not be afraid of light
You who are a child of night.
Open wide your arms to life,
Whirl in the wind of pain and strife,
Face the wall with the dark closed gate,
Beat with bare, brown fists
And wait.

—Langston Hughes.


To fling my arms wide 
In some place of the sun,
To whirl and to dance
Till the bright day is done.
Then rest at cool evening
Beneath a tall tree
While night comes gently
Dark like me.
That is my dream.
To fling my arms wide
In the face of the sun.
Dance! Whirl! Whirl!
Till the quick day is done.
Rest at pale evening,
A tall, slim tree,
Night coming tenderly
Black like me.

—Langston Hughes.


Because my mouth
Is wide with laughter
And my throat
Is deep with song,
You do not think
I suffer after
I have held my pain
So long.
Because my mouth
Is wide with laughter,
You do not hear
My inner cry,
Because my feet
Are gay with dancing,
You do not know
I die.

—Langston Hughes.


We should have a land of sun,
Of gorgeous sun,
And a land of fragrant water
Where the twilight is a soft bandanna handkerchief
Of rose and gold,
And not this land
Where life is cold.
We should have a land of trees,
Of tall thick trees,
Bowed down with chattering parrots
Brilliant as the day,
And not this land where birds are gray.
Ah, we should have a land of joy,
Of love and joy and wine and song,
And not this land where joy is wrong.

—Langston Hughes.


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.
I’ll sit at the table
When company comes
Nobody ’11 dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen”
Besides, they’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed,—
I, too, am America.

—Langston Hughes.

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