Sunday, February 1, 2009

Langston Hughes

Today, February 1st, is the birthday of Langston Hughes and the first day of Black History Month. One of the founders of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920's, Hughes continued to write novels, plays, short stories, and poetry through the 1960's about both the pain and the joy of experiencing black culture in America. His work was deeply related to his personal life, and was influenced by jazz and the poets Paul Laurence Dunbar and Walt Whitman. The poem Dream Variations is one of my favorites.
Dream Variations

by Langston Hughes

To fling my arms wide
In some place of the sun,
To whirl and to dance
Till the white day is done.
Then rest at cool evening
Beneath a tall tree
While night comes on 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.
From The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Copyright © 1994 the Estate of Langston Hughes.


Dave King said...

I had not heard of Hughes, and of course not his work. The poem is very moving. I shall research him further. Thanks.

Kelly said...


Poetikat said...

I have a collection of his called, "The Dream Keeper". I wondered if the last line had any bearing on the book and film, "Black Like Me". Wikipedia confirmed it for me.

It's a wonderful poem. Thank you for posting it.


susan said...

In high school I translated a Dunbar poem, "When All Is Done" into Latin. Is it a stretch to say there is a similarity in cadence and image between that poem and this?

Thanks for sharing this. I, too, own the collected works volume.

Marinela said...

Thanks for sharing this!