Mother to Son – A Poem Written by Langston Hughes

This poem is one that one might imagine a mother of that era sitting down and saying to her son. In the language that might have been used by this mother during that time. Langston Hughes had a way of bringing life to his poetry by writing about real-life and being straightforward about how things were during the 50s and 60s.

Hughes was a poet, novelist, fiction writer, and playwright. He is also known for his insightful, colorful portrayals of black life in America from the twenties through the sixties and was important in shaping the artistic contributions of the Harlem Renaissance.

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—


But all the time

I’se been a’climbin’ on,

And reachin’ landin’s,

And turnin’ corners,

And sometimes goin’ in the dark,

Where there ain’t been no light.

So boy, don’t you turn back;

Don’t you sit down on the steps,

’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard;

Don’t you fall now—

For I’se still goin’, honey,

I’se still climbin’,

And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.


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