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Langston Hughes 1902–67 

  1. When I get to be a composer
    I'm gonna write me some music about
    Daybreak in Alabama.
    And I'm gonna put the purtiest songs in it
    Rising out of the ground like a swamp mist
    And falling out of heaven like soft dew.
     
    Daybreak in Alabama, 1940
  2. Let America be America again.
    Let it be the dream it used to be.
     
    ….
    O, let America be America again—
    The land that has never been yet—
    And yet must be—
    The land where every man is free.
    ….
     
    America never was America to me.
    And yet, I swear this oath—
    America will be!
     
    Let America Be America, 1938
  3. O sweep of stars over Harlem streets,
    O little breath of oblivion that is night.
    A city building to a mother's song,
    A city dreaming to a lullaby.
     
    In a 1963 essay, In Love with Harlem, Hughes wrote: “Melting pot Harlem—Harlem of honey and chocolate and caramel and rum and vinegar and lemon and lime and gall. Dusky dream Harlem rumbling into a nightmare tunnel where the subway from the Bronx keeps right on downtown.”
    Stars, in From My People
  4. I swear to the Lord
    I still can't see
    Why Democracy means
    Everybody but me.
     
    The Black Man Speaks, in Jim Crow's Last Stand, 1943
  5. What happens to a dream deferred?
    Does it dry up
    Like a raisin in the sun?…
    Or does it explode?
     
    Harlem, 1951
  6. Sometimes a crumb falls
    From the tables of joy
    Sometimes a bone
    Is flung
    To some people love is given
    To others
    Only heaven.
     
    Luck, in Fields of Wonder, 1947
  7. Yesterday,
    A night-gone thing
    A sun-down name.
     
    Youth, in From My People
  8. I swear to the Lord
    I still can't see
    Why Democracy means
    Everybody but me.
     
    The Black Man Speaks, in Jim Crow's Last Stand, 1943
  9. What happens to a dream deferred?
    Does it dry up
    Like a raisin in the sun? …
    Or does it explode?
     
    Harlem, 1951
  10. De railroad bridges's
    A sad song in the air.
     
    Homesick Blues
  11. My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
    The Negro Speaks of Rivers, 1926
  12. A wonderful time — the War:
    when money rolled in
    and blood rolled out.
    But blood
    was far away
    from here —
    Money was near.
     
    Green Memory, 1949