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Selected Poems of Langston Hughes

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  5,858 Ratings  ·  199 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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Langston Hughes was one of America's master writers of the twentieth century. For over forty years, he used his time to write, lecture, and promote better conditions for African Americans through his work. Most known for his poetry, Hughes also wrote a variety of works including song lyrics, a play, and an autobiography. Hughes chose the poems in Selected Poems shortly before his death in 1967 and included most of his well known work. Selected Poems is collection befitting of an American master. ...more
Feb 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

I’ve been interested in the writing of Langston Hughes for some time now. After reading Isabel Wilkerson’s The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, which included brief snippets of his writing, I added both this selection of his poetry as well as one of his novels, Not Without Laughter, to my growing list of books to read someday. I even recall my eighth-grader at the time sharing a piece of Hughes’s poetry with me and decided if he thought it was worth poi
Feb 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, america, espresso
Langston Hughes personally selected these poems for this collection, so it makes me feel closer to him. I've secretly wanted to live in the passed away time of this literary birth that took place during the Harlem Renaissance, so I was fascinated by the artwork of words. In fact I'm considering having a Harlem Renaissance Night gathering at my place and all I need is a saxophonist to commemorate Coleman Hawkins (because what instrument is as orgasmic as the sax?). Hughes sat around many musician ...more
martin eden
Feb 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, english
I'm always talking about Langston Hughes to my students and especially his poem "I, too sing America" but never read more than a few of his poems, and so I had a certain idea about his style and topics... What a surprise! I discovered other aspects about Langston Hughes that I didn't even suspect: his humour, his concern about women. I felt a range of emotions: sadness, happiness, shame, doubt,...
I knew his fight for freedom and for equality, but I didn't know that he was a great storyteller!
May 10, 2015 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
Feb 01, 2015 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.

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

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

I, too, am America.

Where is the Jim Crow section
Sep 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2013, poetry
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 —
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
Aug 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Remembering university classes and the first ones that never die...

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
Sep 14, 2011 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
Emma Getz
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I admit that I haven’t studied poetry in an academic setting enough yet to critique it structurally, but I do read my fair share of it, and this collection includes some of my absolute favorite poetry I have ever read. I love that Hughes is a vernacular poet but has a beautiful style of verse and rhythm at the same time. I love the way he portrays things like religion, music, and love. Every single poem is so genuine and truly speaks. Langston Hughes is no doubt one of America’s most talented an ...more
KV Taylor
Nov 13, 2011 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
Feb 05, 2014 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
Feb 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: afr-am
BROTHERS by Langston Hughes

''We're related - you and I,
You from the West Indies,
I from Kentucky.

Kinsmen- you and I,
You from Africa,
I from the U.S.A.

Brothers- you and I''

simple but poignant... that was the ease of reading Langston Hughes' poetry and reflect on his words... simple but true in every way

Erika B. (SOS BOOKS)

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!
David Winn
Dec 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good to read in long stretches. Poems flow from one to the next.
Steph Lovelady
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been fond of Langston Hughes ever since I had to memorize "Harlem" in 8th grade. I found, thirty-six years later, I still had it almost by heart when my 5th grader mentioned she had to write a paragraph about it at school.

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?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

I've come back Selected Poems many
Steve Van Rees
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Refugee in America
There are words like Freedom
Sweet and wonderful to say.
On my heart-strings freedom sings
All Day everyday.
There are words like Liberty
That almost make me cry.
If you had known what I knew
You would know why

Langston Hughes
Nov 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Every facet of life, in a few hundred poems that you can hum along to.
Marji Morris
This was a revisit of Hughes's amazing work. Besides the most well-known and often quoted poems that I frequently taught in class there are many more obscure poems that are outstanding. This collection gives a fuller view of Hughes's talent and experiences.
Shari (colourmeread)
This collection of poems by Langston Hughes made for a good read on a quiet evening. Some poems were entertaining, enchanting, dark, amusing, and sad. The poems were categorized by subject and while I liked Hughes’ distinct voice, I didn’t care for some of them. I did like how Selected Poems provided a good variety of his work, giving me a good idea of his style of writing.
Jan 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
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
Tina Hayes
Feb 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful collection of poetry written and selected for this book by poet Langston Hughes. My favorites were from the 'Shadow of the Blues' and 'Madam to You' sections, but all the poems are great and prolific. Hughes' work ranges from light and humorous poems about Madam Alberta K Johnson to pieces that echo the Civil Rights movement.

‘Freedom’s Plow’ is timeless, a poignant poem that holds as much meaning today as when it was first penned. I found inspiration in the last section particularly
Aug 19, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 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
Erik Dabel
May 28, 2012 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
Navy heart HamlinNBCT
Sep 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned

No Man is an Island onto themselves
The Flip Side of a Harlem's "Weary Blues" sounds as smooth....
Black heritage leaves behind the lessons of forefathers
Men and women of a subjugated race
Too angry to remain chained
Too fiery to remain enslaved
By a generation of yesteryear's blinders
Ahhh history we raise our golden chalice of acknowledgement
And wonderment
Today's workforce
Robotically engineered
Might herald Harlem's voices as they migrate toward freedom

An ode to Hughes
I , too, sing America
I am the
Dec 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: noteworthy, poetry
How dynamic, bold, and expressive a character Langston Hughes epitomizes. Irrevocably defiant and inspired, Hughes solidifies his role as one of the more forceful and prolific voices in American Literature...

Lover's Return:
My old time daddy
Came back home last night.
His face was pale and
His eyes didn't look just right.

He says, “Mary, I'm
Comin' home to you—
So sick and lonesome
I don't know what to do.”

Oh, men treats women
Just like a pair o' shoes—
You kicks 'em round and
Does 'em like you choose.

I l
Apr 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is a reason Langston Hughes is such a revered figure: he writes amazing stuff. Living most of his life under Jim Crow and discrimination (even in New York), he addresses racial equality but does so in an almost gentle manner. There is certainly a place for the righteous rage expressed by other black writers (think Richard Wright's Native Son) but it is the hope that draws me to Hughes' poems and essays. He believes that we WILL achieve freedom and equality for all and that the human spirit ...more
Jun 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, 2013
I picked this up after a friend's death, looking for comfort in a particular poem, but instead found balm of a different sort - cracking up over Hughes' "Madam" series - "Madam and the Phone Bill", "Madam and the Rent Man", etc. - we didn't read those in school! Alberta K. Johnson - that's "Madam" to me!

(And I know it's a classic - but "The Negro Speaks of Rivers"? Everything grows quiet when you read that one.)
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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
  • Complete Poems
  • Selected Poems
  • Greek Lyrics
  • Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems, 1988-2000
  • My House
  • The Black Poets
  • The Norton Anthology of Modern & Contemporary Poetry, Vol 1: Modern Poetry
  • The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems, 1966-1996
  • Selected Poems of Ezra Pound
  • Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe
  • The Complete Poems
  • The Lost Lunar Baedeker: Poems of Mina Loy
  • Selected Poems
  • Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems
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.”
“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.”
More quotes…