"Autobiographies of great nations are written in three manuscripts – a book of deeds, a book of words, and a book of art.
Of the three, I would choose the latter as truest testimony." - Sir Kenneth Smith, Great Civilisations

"I must write each day without fail, not so much for the success of the work, as in order not to get out of my routine." - Leo Tolstoy

I have never believed that one should wait until one is inspired because I think the pleasures of not writing are so
great that if you ever start indulging them you will never write again. - John Updike

"The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another; and his humblest hour
is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it." - J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Langston Hughes - Black Poems of Harlem

Harlem Poet Langston Hughes

by Langston Hughes

Wave of sorrow,
Do not drown me now;
I see the island
Still ahead somehow.

I see the island
And its sands are fair;
Wave of sorrow,
Take me there.

Island by Langston Hughes (Poetry Reading)

Island by Langston Hughes (Poetry Reading)

Lonesome Place
by Langston Hughes

I got to leave this town.
It’s a lonesome place.
Got to leave this town cause
It’s a lonesome place.
A po’, po’ boy can’t
Find a friendly face.

Goin’ down to de river
Flowin’ deep an’ slow.
Goin’ down to de river
Deep an’ slow-
Cause there ain’t no worries
Where de waters go.

I’m weary, weary,
Weary, as I can be.
Weary, weary,
Weary as can be.
This life’s so weary,
‘S’ bout to overcome me.

Sea Calm
by Langston Hughes

How still,
How strangely still
The water is today,
It is not good
For water
To be so still that way.

Feet o' Jesus
by Langston Hughes

At the feet o' Jesus,
Sorrow like a sea.
Lordy, let yo' mercy
Come driftin' down on me.

At the feet o' Jesus
At yo' feet I stand.
O, ma little Jesus,
Please reach out yo' hand.

Thanksgiving Time
by Langston Hughes

When the night winds whistle through the trees and blow the crisp brown leaves a-crackling down,
When the autumn moon is big and yellow-orange and round,
When old Jack Frost is sparkling on the ground,
It's Thanksgiving Time!

When the pantry jars are full of mince-meat and the shelves are laden with sweet spices for a cake,
When the butcher man sends up a turkey nice and fat to bake,
When the stores are crammed with everything ingenious cooks can make,
It's Thanksgiving Time!

When the gales of coming winter outside your window howl,
When the air is sharp and cheery so it drives away your scowl,
When one's appetite craves turkey and will have no other fowl,
It's Thanksgiving Time!

Analysis of  the
Trumpet Player - Poem by Langston Hughes

Trumpet Player
by Langston Hughes

The Negro
With the trumpet at his lips
Has dark moons of weariness
Beneath his eyes
where the smoldering memory
of slave ships
Blazed to the crack of whips
about thighs

The negro
with the trumpet at his lips
has a head of vibrant hair
tamed down,
patent-leathered now
until it gleams
like jet-
were jet a crown

the music
from the trumpet at his lips
is honey
mixed with liquid fire
the rhythm
from the trumpet at his lips
is ecstasy
distilled from old desire-

that is longing for the moon
where the moonlight's but a spotlight
in his eyes,
that is longing for the sea
where the sea's a bar-glass
sucker size

The Negro
with the trumpet at his lips
whose jacket
Has a fine one-button roll,
does not know
upon what riff the music slips

It's hypodermic needle
to his soul
but softly
as the tune comes from his throat
mellows to a golden note

Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance

Langston Hughes and the Harlem Renaissance

My People
by Langston Hughes

The night is beautiful,
So the faces of my people.
The stars are beautiful,
So the eyes of my people
Beautiful, also, is the sun.
Beautiful, also, are the souls of my people.

The Historical Context of the Harlem Renaissance

Madam And The Rent Man
by Langston Hughes

The rent man knocked.
He said, Howdy-do?
I said, What
Can I do for you?
He said, You know
Your rent is due.

I said, Listen,
Before I'd pay
I'd go to Hades
And rot away!

The sink is broke,
The water don't run,
And you ain't done a thing
You promised to've done.

Back window's cracked,
Kitchen floor squeaks,
There's rats in the cellar,
And the attic leaks.

He said, Madam,
It's not up to me.
I'm just the agent,
Don't you see?

I said, Naturally,
You pass the buck.
If it's money you want
You're out of luck.

He said, Madam,
I ain't pleased!
I said, Neither am I.
So we agrees!

I Continue to Dream
by Langston Hughes

I take my dreams and make of them a bronze vase
and a round fountain with a beautiful statue in its center.
And a song with a broken heart and I ask you:
Do you understand my dreams?
Sometimes you say you do,
And sometimes you say you don't.
Either way it doesn't matter.
I continue to dream.

I Continue to Dream by Langston Hughes

by Langston Hughes

That Justice is a blind goddess
Is a thing to which we black are wise:
Her bandage hides two festering sores
That once perhaps were eyes.

Justice by Langston Hughes

5 Poems by Langston Hughes

I, Too
by Langston Hughes

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.

Mini bio of Langston Hughes

Biography of Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes' grand uncle, John Mercer Langston, was the first black congressman elected from Virginia in 1888. Born James Mercer Langston Hughes February 1, 1902, both of his parents were of mixed race. His mother Carrie (Caroline) Mercer Langston was a school teacher. His father, James Nathaniel Hughes, left the family when Langston was a child.

After his parents separated, Langston was raised by his maternal grandmother, Mary Patterson, in Lawrence, Kansas. She impressed racial pride in the young Langston. When she died he went to live with family friends James and Mary Reed. During this time his mother had been seeking employment. He reunited with his mother after she re-married in Lincoln, Illinois.

He attended Columbia, but left left because of racial prejudice. Hughes then worked odd jobs and earned a B.A. From Lincoln University in 1929. His political views had developed left of center, but Arnold Rampersad writes that during WWII his views were more aligned with the center. Still, in 1953, Senator Joseph McCarthy "forced him to...testify officially about his politics." But, the disgrace was soon conferred on the discredited McCarthy.

Langston Hughes was an influential figure in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920's and 30's. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1935 and established a theater troupe in Los Angeles. In addition to poetry he wrote short stories, plays, operas, novels, childrens' books and 2 autobiographies.

In the 1950's and 60's Hughes' fell out of favor with younger black writers who considered his views dated.

Langston Hughes died May 22, 1967 from complications from prostrate cancer.


Biography - Wikipedia

Biography - Poem Hunter

Langston Hughes's Works

Poetry Collections

The Weary Blues, Knopf, 1926
Fine Clothes to the Jew, Knopf, 1927
The Negro Mother and Other Dramatic Recitations, 1931
Dear Lovely Death, 1931
The Dream Keeper and Other Poems, Knopf, 1932
Scottsboro Limited: Four Poems and a Play, Golden Stair Press, N.Y., 1932
Let America Be America Again, 1938
Shakespeare in Harlem, Knopf, 1942
Freedom's Plow, 1943
Fields of Wonder, Knopf, 1947
One-Way Ticket, 1949
Montage of a Dream Deferred, Holt, 1951
Selected Poems of Langston Hughes, 1958
Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz, Hill & Wang, 1961
The Panther and the Lash: Poems of Our Times, 1967
The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, Knopf, 1994

Novels and Short Story Collections

Not Without Laughter. Knopf, 1930
The Ways of White Folks. Knopf, 1934
Simple Speaks His Mind. 1950
Laughing to Keep from Crying, Holt, 1952
Simple Takes a Wife. 1953
Sweet Flypaper of Life, photographs by Roy DeCarava. 1955
Tambourines to Glory 1958
The Best of Simple. 1961
Simple's Uncle Sam. 1965
Something in Common and Other Stories. Hill & Wang, 1963
Short Stories of Langston Hughes. Hill & Wang, 1996

Non-fiction Books

The Big Sea. New York: Knopf, 1940
Famous American Negroes. 1954
I Wonder as I Wander. New York: Rinehart & Co., 1956
A Pictorial History of the Negro in America, with Milton Meltzer. 1956
Famous Negro Heroes of America. 1958
Fight for Freedom: The Story of the NAACP. 1962

Major Plays by Hughes

Mule Bone, with Zora Neale Hurston. 1931
Mulatto. 1935 (renamed The Barrier, an opera, in 1950)
Troubled Island, with William Grant Still. 1936
Little Ham. 1936
Emperor of Haiti. 1936
Don't You Want to be Free? 1938
Street Scene, contributed lyrics. 1947
Tambourines to glory. 1956
Simply Heavenly. 1957
Black Nativity. 1961
Five Plays by Langston Hughes. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1963.
Jericho-Jim Crow. 1964

Works for Children

Popo and Fifina, with Arna Bontemps. 1932
The First Book of the Negroes. 1952
The First Book of Jazz. 1954
Marian Anderson: Famous Concert Singer. with Steven C. Tracy 1954
The First Book of Rhythms. 1954
The First Book of the West Indies. 1956
First Book of Africa. 1964
Black Misery. Illustrated by Arouni. 1969, reprinted by Oxford University Press, 1994.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Elizabeth Akers Allen - Rock Me to Sleep

Rock Me to Sleep

by Elizabeth Akers Allen

Backward, turn backward, O Time, in your flight,
Make me a child again just for tonight!
Mother, come back from the echoless shore,
Take me again to your heart as of yore;
Kiss from my forehead the furrows of care,
Smooth the few silver threads out of my hair;
Over my slumbers your loving watch keep;—
Rock me to sleep, mother, – rock me to sleep!

Backward, flow backward, O tide of the years!
I am so weary of toil and of tears,—
Toil without recompense, tears all in vain,—
Take them, and give me my childhood again!
I have grown weary of dust and decay,—
Weary of flinging my soul-wealth away;
Weary of sowing for others to reap;—
Rock me to sleep, mother – rock me to sleep!

Tired of the hollow, the base, the untrue,
Mother, O mother, my heart calls for you!
Many a summer the grass has grown green,
Blossomed and faded, our faces between:
Yet, with strong yearning and passionate pain,
Long I tonight for your presence again.
Come from the silence so long and so deep;—
Rock me to sleep, mother, – rock me to sleep! 

Over my heart, in the days that are flown,
No love like mother-love ever has shone;
No other worship abides and endures,—
Faithful, unselfish, and patient like yours:
None like a mother can charm away pain
From the sick soul and the world-weary brain.
Slumber’s soft calms o’er my heavy lids creep;—
Rock me to sleep, mother, – rock me to sleep!

Come, let your brown hair, just lighted with gold,
Fall on your shoulders again as of old;
Let it drop over my forehead tonight,
Shading my faint eyes away from the light;
For with its sunny-edged shadows once more
Haply will throng the sweet visions of yore;
Lovingly, softly, its bright billows sweep;—
Rock me to sleep, mother, – rock me to sleep!

Mother, dear mother, the years have been long
Since I last listened your lullaby song:
Sing, then, and unto my soul it shall seem
Womanhood’s years have been only a dream.
Clasped to your heart in a loving embrace,
With your light lashes just sweeping my face,
Never hereafter to wake or to weep;—
Rock me to sleep, mother, – rock me to sleep!

- Elizabeth Akers Allen

Rock Me To Sleep, Mother

Biography of Elizabeth Akers Allen

Elizabeth Chase Akers Allen (October 9, 1832, Strong, Maine – August 7, 1911, Tuckahoe, New York) was an American author, journalist and poet. Born Elizabeth Anne Chase, she grew up in Farmington, Maine, where she attended Farmington Academy. She began to write at the age of fifteen, under the pen name Florence Percy, and in 1855 published under that name a volume of poems entitled Forest Buds. In 1851 she married Marshall S. M. Taylor, but they were divorced within a few years. In subsequent years she travelled through Europe; in Rome she became acquainted with the feminist Paulina Kellogg Wright Davis. While in Europee she served as a correspondent for the Portland Transcript and the Boston Evening Gazette. She started contributing to the Atlantic Monthly in 1858[1]. She married Paul Akers, a Maine sculptor whom she had met in Rome, in 1860; he died in 1861. In 1865 she married E. M. Allen, of New York. In 1866 a collection of her poems was published in Boston.

Elizabeth Akers Allen's Works:

  • Forest Buds from the Woods of Maine (1855)
  • Poems (1866-1869)
  • Queen Catharine's Rose (1885)
  • The Silver Bridge (1885)
  • Two Saints (1888)
  • The High-Top Sweeting (1891)
  • The Proud Lady of Stavoven (1897)
  • The Ballad of the Bronx (1901)
  • The Sunset Song (1902)

Elizabeth Akers Allen Poems:

Backward, turn backward, O time, in your flight; Make me a child again, just for tonight! Mother, come back from that echoless shore;

At last, when all the summer shine That warmed life's early hours is past, Your loving fingers seek for mine

Oh, dainty daughters of the dawn, most delicate of flowers, How fitly do ye come to deck day's most delicious hours! Evoked by morning's earliest breath, your fragile cups unfold Before the light has cleft the sky, or edged the world with gold.

Two little feet, so small that both may nestle In one caressing hand, - Two tender feet upon the untried border Of life's mysterious land.

THIS realm is sacred to the silent past; Within its drowsy shades are treasures rare Of dust and dreams; the years are long since last

The last lone aster in the wood has died, And taken wings, and flown; The sighing oaks, the evergreens' dark pride, And shivering beeches, keep their leaves alone.

My heart is chilled and my pulse is slow, But often and often will memory go, Like a blind child lost in a waste of snow,

The time for toil is past, and night has come, The last and saddest of the harvest-eves; Worn out with labor long and wearisome, Drooping and faint, the reapers hasten home, Each laden with his sheaves.

Make me no vows of constancy, dear friend, To love me, though I die, thy whole life long, And love no other till thy days shall end -

It was the autumn of the year; The strawberry-leaves were red and sere; October's airs were fresh and chill, When, pausing on the windy hill,

Lo, what wonders the day hath brought, Born of the soft and slumbrous snow! Gradual, silent, slowly wrought;

Strange Truth and Beauty are enemies, Treading forever on each other's toes! Strange rhymes are always made of that which is

YOU who dread the cares and labors Of the tenant’s annual quest, You who long for peace and rest,

O lonesome sea-gull, floating far Over the ocean's icy waste, Aimless and wide thy wanderings are, Forever vainly seeking rest: -