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Selected Poems

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  6,864 ratings  ·  301 reviews
With the publication of his first book of poems, The Weary Blues, in 1926, Langston Hughes electrified readers and launched a renaissance in black writing in America.  The poems Hughes wrote celebrated the experience of invisible men and women: of slaves who "rushed the boots of Washington"; of musicians on Lenox Avenue; of the poor and the lovesick; of losers in "the raff ...more
Paperback, 297 pages
Published September 12th 1990 by Vintage (first published 1959)
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Susan This is from the poem "Motto", which is part of the Montage of A Dream Deferred section of Selected Poems, it's on p. 234 of this book.…moreThis is from the poem "Motto", which is part of the Montage of A Dream Deferred section of Selected Poems, it's on p. 234 of this book.(less)

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Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Shelves: poetry, afro-american
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
Jan 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, 2015, recs
Mashing up poems written across his decades-long career as a writer, Langston Hughes's Selected Poems is a montage of fast-moving images that alternately capture the melancholy and the resilience of Black social life in America during the twentieth century's first half. The collection is divided into thirteen sections that familiarize readers with the vast scope of Hughes's interests: love, despair, racism, suicide, hope, music, community, and freedom are only a few of these poems' subjects. Com ...more
Bill Kerwin
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: black-studies, poetry

One afternoon in 1925, the white poet Vachel Lindsay was dining at the Wardman Park Hotel restaurant in Washington D.C. when a black busboy dropped three sheets of typed verse beside his plate. Lindsay read one of the poems, "The Weary Blues," and—impressed—called for the busboy, "Who wrote this?" he asked the young man. “I did," answered Langston Hughes. That evening, Lindsay reciting all three of Hughes’ poem at his own poetry reading, announcing his discovery of a “bonafide poet.”

Of course—as
Brown Girl Reading
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
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!
Feb 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: atonement
The speaker catches fire
looking at their faces.
His words
jump down to stand
in listener's places.

The majority of these appear to be but lyrics, slinking, slight. Maybe slivers. Reflective and jagged. I struggle again with questions unposed.

I don’t imagine this collection will change many lives but there remains a necessary presence as we idly ignore our origins. I see the tropes today. Just below the haze and away from the anger.
Sep 26, 2013 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 —
Jun 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I adored Hughes' work in high school and rereading this collection only cemented that love. There are poems about race, about everyday life before the civil rights era. There's also charming ditties that seem designed to get a smile out of you.

I was surprised how many poems are familiar, how many lines stuck with me over twenty plus years.

Let us roam the night together

There are others that have much more meaning now than they did in high school.


Tell all my mourners
To mourn in
Feb 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Note to self: I quite enjoyed driving through Langston Hughes' life. He colored sad things beautiful. And for that, and my love for important historical black literature, as well as being mulatto, I label 5 stars! I quarreled with this a little but found I was not uncertain of its merit because of his writing, but rather it was me judging some of the misogynistic poe!s in the beginning of this collection. However, he writes from many perspectives and those behaviors were understandable outcomes ...more
Aug 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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
Esraa Diab
Oct 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020, poetry
I was introduced to Langston Hughes earlier this year and truly enjoyed the selection of poems I have read by him. I wanted to read and know more about him whenever I have the chance.

This collection was rich of amazing poems that told stories about Harlem, about his race's struggles, about oppression, discrimination and slavery, about his feeling towards his white father and black mother, in addition to number of poems about love, life, death and religion.

The collection seems to have covered ev
Emma Getz
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Bradley Hankins
Nov 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When I was in school I used to hate poetry but as I’ve grown I’ve found a great appreciation for the skill it takes to become a poet. Hughes’s poems are moving, political and inspirational. I loved how they ranged from emotions of depression to ones of anger and strife. My favorite poem from this selection would have to be “Miss Blues’es Child” I’ve felt that feeling too often.
KV Taylor
Nov 13, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Yuki Shimmyo
Langston Hughes' poems of the 1920s, 40s, and 50s are as fresh and relevant as ever. This collection skips over his "revolutionary poetry" of the 1930s. ...more
Kayla ☕️📚
Lyrical poetry that is harsh yet beautiful... so glad I had the chance to read this collection of poems
Apr 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Wow! Provocative poetry that really made me better understand and think about what it meant/means to be black in the US.
Christopher Iacovetti
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: black-history
"Every time I read Langston Hughes I am amazed all over again by his genuine gifts–and depressed that he has done so little with them. A real discussion of his work demands more space than I have here, but this book contains a great deal which a more disciplined poet would have thrown into the waste-basket (almost all of the last section, for example)" – Baldwin, "Sermons and Blues" (1959)


So long,
So far away
Is Africa.
Not even memories alive
Save those that history books crea
Jenn Meadows
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
I can't believe I've gone this long without reading a collection of Langston Hughes poems. For this year's Black History Month, I decided it was about time that I picked this up and emersed myself in Hughes' brilliance for a day. I really appreciated this collection because it was hand-selected by Hughes himself. I felt like I got a taste of his work that makes me want to revisit all of his books of poems in the near future. My favorite poems were the ones that addressed racial inequality and th ...more
Apr 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Hughes uses loose rhythmic free verse to capture Black vernacular, experience, hope.
Feb 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Karen Ashmore
Jul 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great collection of poetry that includes obscure poems and more well known ones such as “Weary Blues”, “I, Too, America” and “A Dream Deferred”. Topics ranged from Harlem, living as a Black man in the Jim Crow South, slavery, police brutality, and racism. One of my new favorites is “Freedom Train”. Ironically, he also wrote several poems from a Black woman’s perspective decrying her mistreatment by Black men.

All the poems are still timely today.
Dee's Reading Zone
Feb 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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!
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.
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Mrs. Gallagher's ...: Final book review 1 4 Jun 11, 2014 06:21PM  

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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

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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…