Langston Hughes

L
Langston Hughes
Dream Boogie
Good morning, daddy!
Ain’t you heard
The boogie-woogie rumble
Of a dream deferred?

Listen closely:
You’ll hear their feet
Beating out and beating out a—

You think
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Flatted Fifths  
Little cullud boys with beards
re-bop be-bop mop and stop.

Little cullud boys with fears,
frantic, kick their CC years
into flatted fifths and flatter beers
that at a sudden change become
sparkling Oriental wines
rich and strange
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Freedom
Freedom will not come
Today, this year
Nor ever
Through compromise and fear.

I have as much right
As the other fellow has
To stand
On my two feet
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Dream Boogie: Variation
Tinkling treble,
Rolling bass,
High noon teeth
In a midnight face,
Great long fingers
On great big hands,
Screaming pedals
Where his twelve-shoe lands,
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Dreams
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
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Boogie: 1 A.M.
Good evening, daddy!
I know you’ve heard
The boogie-woogie rumble
Of a dream deferred
Trilling the treble
And twining the bass
Into midnight ruffles
Of cat-gut lace.
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Cross
My old man’s a white old man
And my old mother’s black.
If ever I cursed my white old man
I take my curses back.

If ever I cursed my black old mother
And wished she were in hell,
I’m sorry for that evil wish
And now I wish her well.
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Dream Dust
Gather out of star-dust
Earth-dust,
Cloud-dust,
And splinters of hail,
One handful of dream-dust
Not for sale.

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Easy Boogie
Down in the bass
That steady beat
Walking walking walking
Like marching feet.

Down in the bass
That easy roll,
Rolling like I like it
In my soul.
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Hope
Sometimes when I’m lonely,
Don’t know why,
Keep thinkin’ I won’t be lonely
By and by.
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If-ing
If I had some small change
I’d buy me a mule,
Get on that mule and
Ride like a fool.

If I had some greenbacks
I’d buy me a Packard,
Fill it up with gas and
Drive that baby backward.
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Lady’s Boogie  
See that lady
Dressed so fine?
She ain’t got boogie-woogie
On her mind—

But if she was to listen
I bet she’d hear,
Way up in the treble
The tingle of a tear.
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Motto
I play it cool
And dig all jive
That’s the reason
I stay alive.

My motto,
As I live and learn,
is:
Dig And Be Dug
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Snail
Little snail,
Dreaming you go.
Weather and rose
Is all you know.

Weather and rose
Is all you see,
Drinking
The dewdrop’s
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Daybreak in Alabama
When I get to be a colored composer
I'm gonna write me some music about
Daybreak in Alabama
And I'm gonna put the purtiest songs in it
Rising out of the ground like a swamp mist
And falling out of heaven like soft dew
I'm gonna put some tall tall trees in it
And the scent of pine needles
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Lincoln Theatre
The head of Lincoln looks down from the wall
While movies echo dramas on the screen.
The head of Lincoln is serenely tall
Above a crowd of black folk, humble, mean.
The movies end. The lights flash gaily on.
The band down in the pit bursts into jazz.
The crowd applauds a plump brown-skin bleached
blonde
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Winter Moon
How thin and sharp is the moon tonight!
How thin and sharp and ghostly white
Is the slim curved crook of the moon tonight!
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Let America Be America Again

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
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Suicide's Note
The calm,
Cool face of the river
Asked me for a kiss.
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I look at the world
I look at the world
From awakening eyes in a black face—
And this is what I see:
This fenced-off narrow space
Assigned to me.

I look then at the silly walls
Through dark eyes in a dark face—
And this is what I know:
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Remember
Remember
The days of bondage—
And remembering—
Do not stand still.
Go to the highest hill
And look down upon the town
Where you are yet a slave.
Look down upon any town in Carolina
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You and your whole race.
You and your whole race.
Look down upon the town in which you live
And be ashamed.
Look down upon white folks
And upon yourselves
And be ashamed
That such supine poverty exists there,
That such stupid ignorance breeds children there
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I, Too
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.

Tomorrow,
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Mother to Son
Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
Bare.
But all the time
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50-50
I’m all alone in this world, she said,
Ain’t got nobody to share my bed,
Ain’t got nobody to hold my hand—
The truth of the matter’s
I ain’t got no man.

Big Boy opened his mouth and said,
Trouble with you is
You ain’t got no head!
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Brass Spittoons
Clean the spittoons, boy.
Detroit,
Chicago,
Atlantic City,
Palm Beach.
Clean the spittoons.
The steam in hotel kitchens,
And the smoke in hotel lobbies,
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Catch
Big Boy came
Carrying a mermaid
On his shoulders
And the mermaid
Had her tail
Curved
Beneath his arm.

Being a fisher boy,
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Harlem
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?
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Harlem Sweeties
Have you dug the spill
Of Sugar Hill?
Cast your gims
On this sepia thrill:
Brown sugar lassie,
Caramel treat,
Honey-gold baby
Sweet enough to eat.
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Madam’s Past History
My name is Johnson—
Madam Alberta K.
The Madam stands for business.
I’m smart that way.

I had a
HAIR-DRESSING PARLOR
Before
The depression put
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Morning After
I was so sick last night I
Didn’t hardly know my mind.
So sick last night I
Didn’t know my mind.
I drunk some bad licker that
Almost made me blind.

Had a dream last night I
Thought I was in hell.
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The Negro Speaks of Rivers
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:
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Theme for English B
The instructor said,

Go home and write
a page tonight.
And let that page come out of you—
Then, it will be true.

I wonder if it’s that simple?
I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem.
I went to school there, then Durham, then here
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The Weary Blues
Droning a drowsy syncopated tune,
Rocking back and forth to a mellow croon,
I heard a Negro play.
Down on Lenox Avenue the other night
By the pale dull pallor of an old gas light
He did a lazy sway. . . .
He did a lazy sway. . . .
To the tune o’ those Weary Blues.
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Sylvester’s Dying Bed
I woke up this mornin’
’Bout half-past three.
All the womens in town
Was gathered round me.

Sweet gals was a-moanin’,
“Sylvester’s gonna die!”
And a hundred pretty mamas
Bowed their heads to cry.
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