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Selected Poems of Langston Hughes

4.27  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,906 Ratings  ·  135 Reviews
The poems in this volume were chosen by Hughes himself shortly before his death in 1967 and encompass work from his entire career. His poetry launched a revolution among black writers in America.
297 pages
Published by Turtleback Books (first published 1959)
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Didi
May 13, 2015 Didi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I finished this collection and was thrilled to have discovered more of Hughes poetry. This poetry collection is separated into thirteen sections. The themes of each section are very different yet the poems fit perfectly in each one. The themes cover race, religion, love, society, and just plain living. The poems are lyrical and some only contain a few words. Life of Fine and After Hours are two of my favorite sections. For those avid poetry lovers definitely this is a must read. I4m so glad I fi ...more
Pink
Apr 05, 2015 Pink rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection was great. A few of the poems didn't work for me, but the vast majority were superb. Here's two that I particularly liked.

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,
I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"
Then.

Besides,
They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—

I, too, am America.

Merry-Go-Round
Where is the Jim Crow section
O
...more
Tiffani
Sep 29, 2013 Tiffani rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't read much poetry, but reading Sylvia Plath's Ariel last week inspired me to read a little more. And so I picked up a collection of Langston Hughes' poems. Langston Hughes is one of the few poets I have read before, at least a little. He is part of one of my favorite literary-artistic-cultural periods, the Harlem Renaissance.

I absolutely loved this collection! I don't know much about Hughes but after reading this collection he seems like someone who would have been fun to hang out with —
...more
Beth
I am a huge lover of Langston Hughes' poetry. Despite the fact that I am a white woman who will never know the depths of racism African Americans had to endure in this country, I honestly feel like Hughes helped all those who weren't going through this plight understand and be sympathetic to the cause. His poetry makes me want to be a better person. It inspires tolerance and understanding.

This book was a fabulous collection of Hughes' work. There are so many great poems that I don't know how I w
...more
Tahereh
Aug 22, 2014 Tahereh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Remembering university classes and the first ones that never die...

Dream
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to the dreams
For when dreams go
life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
Larry Bassett
Oct 11, 2011 Larry Bassett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Selected Poems of Langston Hughes

James Mercer Langston Hughes (February 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967) was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, socialist, homosexual and columnist. He began writing poetry when he was a young teenager. His newspaper column ran for twenty years in the 1940s and 1950s. Hughes uses the rhythms of African American music, particularly blues and jazz in his poetry. Later in his life Langston Hughes was called the "Poet Laureate of the Negro Race," a title
...more
KV Taylor
Nov 13, 2011 KV Taylor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
So I bought this just tonight and figured I'd go through it at a leisurely pace, rolling the words around in my head, you know.

Yeah, not so much. Ate it in a few hours, and I'm going back through now to revisit and order my thoughts. There's not a lot I can say that hasn't been said -- this is beautiful, lyrical, heartwrenching, clever, funny, brutal stuff by turns (and sometimes all at once), and I can't get enough.

What a commentary that even the ones written about social issues some 90 years
...more
David Winn
Dec 16, 2015 David Winn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good to read in long stretches. Poems flow from one to the next.
Erika B. (Snogging on Sunday Books)
Love

Love is a wild wonder
And stars that sing,
Rocks that burst asunder
And mountains that take wing.

John Henry with his hammer
Makes a little spark,
That little spark is love
Dying in the dark.

TOTALLY dig this poetry collection! Langston Hughes captured jazz and blues perfectly!
Kerry
Feb 05, 2014 Kerry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: everything
Before I picked up the Selected Poems of Langston Hughes, I was familiar with some of his more famous poems like
"Harlem (Dreams Deferred)", "A Negro Speaks of Rivers", "The Weary Blues", and "I, Too"but I didn’t know much more than that. I was really interested in reading more of his poetry and digging deeper into his work and I thought this collection would be a good place to start.

Now that I have finished the book, I have to say that my favorite thing about Langston Hughes’ work is the shee
...more
Alison
Langston Hughes' poetry is phenomenal - powerful, evocative, uncomfortable, beautiful in turns. This is a tremendous collection. There were a few spots I thought it faltered - some sections felt like they had less substance (though those sections were chronicling African-American voices, which is certainly important - just the subject matter of what they were speaking of didn't catch me, particularly in between other poetry that was so much better. Possibly on their own I would have appreciated ...more
Erik Dabel
May 28, 2012 Erik Dabel rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes in a work (or works) everything lines up and a perfect thing is created. Meter, prose, flow and meaning all blend together in the voice of not a man, but a people.

Langston Hughes was one of the many voices of a people oppressed, a people with a Dream Deferred. He fought and spoke up in a time when Freedom had little meaning, when the founding ideas of a beautiful country were so far from being realized.

This collection of poetry speaks for a whole generation of Americans who were push
...more
Ryan
Sep 21, 2010 Ryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 100-in-2010, poetry
I have read so little poetry that I had to add "poetry" as a new Goodreads shelf. But Langston Hughes was a perfect solid introduction to poetry that I wasn't required to read by a teacher or professor. And seeing as I got married in a room called the Langston Hughes Room, I figured I should read a bit more of what he had to say. Fortunately, he had a lot of great things to tell the world.

He tackles the everyday with humor, insouciance, wit, and a twinkle in his eye:

Looks like what drives me cr
...more
Katie
Dec 22, 2012 Katie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
*3.75
I remember reading some of these [around three?] in 8th grade - the one about a crystal stair, English B, and a dream deferred. Hughes is a decent poet - not my favorite, but some of them are pretty thought provoking and perhaps beautifully written. He speaks for not himself, but for his people, and I can see why it was important. I plan to read more [as he is my chosen - or, technically, someone else chose for me - poet for English] and I think I'll be able to fairly analyze his work and e
...more
Chris
Oct 21, 2015 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The poems in the "Distance Nowhere" section are my favorites. Haunting, sensual, mystical. This one hits it, "Desire":

Desire to us
Was like a double death,
Swift dying
Of our mingled breath,
Evaporation
Of an unknown strange perfume
Between us quickly
In a naked
Room.
Carol Bayley
Aug 06, 2009 Carol Bayley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A personal favorite

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,
I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"
Then.

Besides
They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed-

I, too, am America
Temoca
Apr 12, 2009 Temoca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I don't love all the poems, but I love most of them and with such a large collection of his work, it's a good percentage that I enjoy. I have shared many of the poems in my class and my students know when they have to do the research paper for the social studies teacher, they can always pick Langston Hughes from his list and I become a good resource for them.
Stefani Akins
Mar 13, 2014 Stefani Akins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was one of those reviled Buzzfeed quizzes that introduced me to Langston Hughes, and to the author of that quiz (and my friend E. who took it before me, thus pointing me in its direction) goes my gratitude for including this exceptional poet as a "literary soulmate". Although I am not certain about the soulmate bit, Hughes' wonderful, varied vignettes of life in early 20th century America spoke volumes to me from the get-go. Recently I read of someone likening Sylvia Plath's writing to melodi ...more
Callie
Jan 18, 2013 Callie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, 2013, poetry
One of my favorite poets. I can't believe it took me this long to read a collection, but it was so so good. Beautiful and sad, and funny and longing. Just everything.
Mary Anne
Feb 26, 2015 Mary Anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't have words for how much I loved this book. I really don't consider myself a major poetry fan, and true, there were some poems in here that I didn't like (or didn't get) as much. But after making teeny tiny bookmarks so I could mark my favorite packages, I just gave up and decided I needed to buy this book.

There are two or three poems that carry over from The Panther & The Lash, but that's pretty much it. I just found these poems so inspiring and fantastic. There is one section entitl
...more
J. Alfred
Feb 02, 2016 J. Alfred rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hughes is deceptively simple in his poetics; he sticks very closely to a jazzy vernacular. He is thus probably a figure in the equation that has led people to emote more or less nonsensically and call their results poems, but I suppose he's not to blame for that. Hughes is relentlessly political, rhythmically deft and intensely memorable. He's worth reading. Check out, for instance, "Let America be America Again": "(America never was America to me)." And did you know that "Harlem. A Dream Deferr ...more
Zari
Sep 09, 2015 Zari added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poem
It was a long time ago.
I have almost forgotten my dream.
But it was there then,
In front of me,
Bright like a sun—
My dream.
And then the wall rose,
Rose slowly,
Slowly,
Between me and my dream.
Rose until it touched the sky—
The wall.
Shadow.
I am black.
I lie down in the shadow.
No longer the light of my dream before me,
Above me.
Only the thick wall.
Only the shadow.
My hands!
My dark hands!
Break through the wall!
Find my dream!
Help me to shatter this darkness,
To smash this night,
To break this shadow
Into a thous
...more
Natalie
My favorite poems from this collection are:
- Fire, Sunday Morning Prophecy, The Weary Blues, Hope!, Late Last Night!, Could Be!, Bad Luck Card!, Evil, Snail, Island, Drum, Me and the Mule!, Cora, Mid-winter Blues, Lament Over Love, Merry-Go-Round, Madam and the Phone Bill, Necessity, Question, Blues at Dawn!, Democracy.

I love how cheeky Langston Hughes gets when he speaks from his female persona :)

P.s. If there's an exclamation point at the end, that's not part of the title, it means that it's
...more
Kerry CS Literary Jewelry
Before I picked up the Selected Poems of Langston Hughes, I was familiar with some of his more famous poems like "Harlem (Dreams Deferred)", "A Negro Speaks of Rivers", "The Weary Blues", and "I, Too Sing America" but I didn’t know much more about his work than the highlights and I wanted to dig a little deeper.

Now that I have finished the book, I have to say that my favorite thing about Langston Hughes’ work is the sheer musicality of it. I’ve read a lot about how influenced he was by Jazz and
...more
Jennifer M. Hartsock
Poem: "The Big Sea."

Like E.E. Cummings, Langston Hughes wrote beautiful poems about getting out of the hands of tyranny and letting go of inferiority. Like Willa Cather and Sherwood Anderson, Hughes wrote of “getting ahead,” and how the American Dream just isn’t for everyone. In The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain, Hughes writes: “…this urge within the race toward whiteness, the desire to pour racial individuality into the mold of American standardization, and to be as little Negro and as m
...more
Caitrin
Aug 19, 2013 Caitrin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, race
much of his poetry is just a pleasure to read, from the vivid imagery to the poet's fierce spirit that just shines through. ..for these reasons some of it reminded me of Walt Whitman, with some key differences being that hughes sometimes embraces traditional rhyme and rhythms while Whitman essentially scoffed at such conventions, and hughes usually gets his point across concisely instead of in rambling fashion. Hughes also writes very much from the experience of a black man in the Jim crow south ...more
Kody Walleen-Sanders
As Beth and a few others have already touched on, Langston Hughes aided in the early breaking of barriers between whites and blacks in his field. He did this, I believe, by not closing himself off from whites or anyone “other than negroes,” as many other negro activists did in that time (almost understandably). This is exemplified by him willingly opening himself to the work of white writers, ultimately being influenced by them, such as humanist Walt Whitman and fellow poet Carl Sandberg. This w ...more
Rob
Sep 11, 2011 Rob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
[What I read was a volume of a larger "complete works" set containing Langsgton Hughes' poems from 1920-1940. That isn't exactly the book I'm leaving the review on, but navigating all the collections for famous poets to get the right one is tedious enough for me to just stick it wherever, which is what's happening now.]

(8/10) Nestled in a forest of unpublished poems there's a fascinating gem that highlights both the effectiveness and the difficulty of Langston Hughes' poetry:

In the Johannesburg
...more
Swasti Tripathy
Jan 28, 2016 Swasti Tripathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poems
'It's not easy to know what is true for you or me
at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I'm what
I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you:
hear you, hear me--we two--you, me, talk on this page.
(I hear New York, too.) Me--who?
Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.
I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.
I like a pipe for a Christmas present,
or records--Bessie, bop, or Bach.'
I should have read his collection sooner. I had no idea I'd relate so much to his poems.
blakeR
Jun 03, 2015 blakeR rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm no poetry person so not even going to attempt a serious review of this, which I read because I've seen it called one of the best and most important collections of U.S. poetry. I liked it. Hughes's simple style facilitates understanding for a novice such as myself, and his pervasive themes of racial and social justice are both poignant and timeless. I would recommend it to anyone, but especially to U.S. residents (it somehow feels like a basic familiarity with Hughes should be a public educat ...more
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Mrs. Gallagher's ...: Final book review 1 3 Jun 11, 2014 06:21PM  
  • Selected Poems
  • Selected Poems
  • The Collected Poetry of Paul Laurence Dunbar
  • Selected Poems
  • The Selected Poems, 1968-1995
  • Greek Lyrics
  • Complete Poems
  • Shake Loose My Skin: New and Selected Poems
  • Selected Poems
  • Selected Poems
  • Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems, 1988-2000
  • Selected Poems
  • The Lost Lunar Baedeker: Poems of Mina Loy
  • Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe
  • The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems, 1966-1996
  • Selected Poetry
  • Houseboat Days
  • The Norton Anthology of Modern & Contemporary Poetry, Vol 1: Modern Poetry
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Langston Hughes was an American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, short story writer, and columnist. He was one of the earliest innovators of the then-new literary art form jazz poetry. Hughes is best known for his work during the Harlem Renaissance. He famously wrote about the period that "Harlem was in vogue."
More about Langston Hughes...

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“Looks like what drives me crazy
Don't have no effect on you--
But I'm gonna keep on at it
Till it drives you crazy, too.”
342 likes
“So since I'm still here livin',
I guess I will live on.
I could've died for love--
But for livin' I was born.”
142 likes
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