Poetry Friday: Langston Hughes


Poetry Friday is hosted by Liz Steinglass today!

On Thursday, I had the honor and pleasure of introducing my sixth graders to the poems of Langston Hughes.  We investigated the Harlem Renaissance, read a wonderful picture book about his early life:


listened to Langston tell of what inspired his poem The Negro Speaks of Rivers, and then recite it, as only he could:

Once we had a feel for Langston and the world he inhabited, we read a few of his most famous poems together.  My kids were quiet after each reading; their brows furrowed, they thought deeply about what Langston had been trying to say about his world when he wrote those poems…and what we can bring of Langston to our world today: being true to the idea of democracy, holding on to dreams,  the yearning for freedom now.  Here are two we loved:


Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.


What happens to a dream deferred?
      Does it dry up
      like a raisin in the sun?
      Or fester like a sore—
      And then run?
      Does it stink like rotten meat?
      Or crust and sugar over—
      like a syrupy sweet?
      Maybe it just sags
      like a heavy load.
      Or does it explode?

15 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Langston Hughes

  1. Tara, we talked about Langston Hughes this week, too. We all wrote dream poems. Did you see the Google Doodle on Sunday for his birthday? As they say about great minds… We were in sync this week.

  2. I did a Langston Hughes week too, with my eighth graders! We talked a little about the Harlem Renaissance. And yes, Margaret, we watched the video from the Google Doodle. So fun to see these great minds thinking alike. 🙂

  3. During my PD sessions this week, I showcased Langston’s Poems as a way to capture the narrator’s perspective and comment on what his OLW could be. I am glad to have other resources to embellish the lesson. Thanks, Tara and blogger friends.

  4. I loved listening to Hughes describe the origins of “The Negro Speaks of Rivers.” I think it’s so important to share these stories with kids; it takes a little of the mystery away. Thanks for sharing this, Tara!

  5. What a privilege to be the one to introduce your students to his poetry! Did you watch the Google Doodle for his birthday?

  6. “Mother to Son” is my favorite of his poems

    Don’t you set down on the steps
    ’Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
    Don’t you fall now—
    For I’se still goin’, honey,

  7. Love Langston Hughes – there is something so raw and so real and just so beautiful about his poetry – can not help but move any reader. Dream Deferred is lovely. I will have to look for Coming Home.
    This youtube clip is lovely too, I thought:

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