Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Poetry: Black History Month

shadows

Mother to Son

by Langston Hughes


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— 

I love this poem because the mother's voice is so clear, so insistent, and so determined. She is compelling him, and us forward and the joyful undercurrent is unmistakable. We are getting toward the end of Black History Month, but still climbing.

I am excited about getting the Poetry Foundation iTouch app in my hand, finally. I'm going to be shakin' some poetry down! Anyone else have that? What do you love about it?

Enjoy the Friday Poetry round up over at Read, Write, Believe, hosted by Sara Lewis Holmes.

12 comments:

tanita davis said...

I've often wondered why Hughes used this voice for the mother when so many of his other poems - and his own voice - was educated. But, it always gives me a nice feeling to think that no matter the level of education, every mother wants better for her son, and every mother pushes her child upward, still hoping for that crystal stair. Nice one.

Sara said...

I just downloaded that app yesterday. We'll have to compare notes. :)

Mother to Son is fabulous. As you say, urgent yet joyful. Wonderful.

Amy LV said...

I, too, love the strength and hope in this poem. And now you have me wondering if my Droid can get this app. A job for a snowy day! A.

jama said...

Hadn't seen that poem before. Like it! :)

david elzey said...

i've always known this poem as "no crystal stair" but maybe because it's the title of a friend's book. and as to tanita's question about the voice i've wondered as well if it wasn't hughes's mother.

nice share, thanks.

acrossthepage said...

This is new to me, and I enjoyed reading your comments on it. I love the mother's determination too.

Carol said...

This is one of my favorite Langston Hughes' poems.Sw

Marjorie said...

This is new to me too - such a strong voice. And I too have enjoyed reading the comments.

Heidi Mordhorst said...

Tanita is so right, that every parent wants better, pushes toward crystal. I'd forgotten this one--what a powerful extended metaphor, splinters, tacks and unlit turns.

Thanks, Andi.

Mary Lee said...

Every old favorite is new to someone. Good to remember when choosing poems. Keep all the voices strong.

Thanks for getting this strong mother's voice into our heads or back into our heads!

Doraine Bennett said...

I love this poem, too. Such vivid images of that mother trudging on. And on the voice, I agree with the other comments. It's a powerful voice. Can you even imagine it in any other?

laurasalas said...

Love that crystal stair. This poem applies to so many journeys, not just life overall. Writing, marriage, you name it, this message still applies. Thanks, Andi!