Tag Archives: poetry

Langston Hughes on a Dream Deferred

“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?”

Langston Hughes

“Harlem” l. 1 (1951)

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

Book of Answers: Langston Hughes

“What Langston Hughes poem refers to a ‘raisin in the sun’? ‘Harlem’ (1951). Hughes asks: ‘What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?’”

Excerpted from: Corey, Melinda, and George Ochoa. Literature: The New York Public Library Book of Answers. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993.

Cultural Literacy: Langston Hughes

Last but not least on this fine afternoon, here is a Cultural Literacy worksheet on Langston Hughes if you need it. He is another figure in Black History who bears extended scrutiny, so this worksheet really serves as the sparest of introductions to him.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

The Weary Blues

“Got the weary blues

And can’t be satisfied—

I ain’t happy no mo’

And I wish that I had died.”

Weary Blues” 1. 27 (1926)

Langston Hughes

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

Langston Hughes Sings America

“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, Too” l. 16 (1925)

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings: A volume of memoirs (1970) by the African-American writer, singer, and actress Maya Angelou (1928-2014). Angelou borrowed her title—a metaphor for the African-American experience—from the US writer Paul Lawrence Dunbar (1872-1906):

I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,

When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore—

When he beats his bars and he would be free;

It is not a carol of joy or glee,

But a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,

But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings—

I know why the caged bird sings!

Paul Lawrence Dunbar: ‘Sympathy,’ in The Complete Poems (1895)

Dunbar may have been inspired by an earlier line:

When caged birds sing, when indeed they cry.

John Webster: The White Devil (1612), V.iv

Excerpted from: Crofton, Ian, ed. Brewer’s Curious Titles. London: Cassell, 2002.

Book of Answers: Philip Freneau

“Who is known as the “poet of the American Revolution”? Philip Freneau (1752-1832), whose poems include “American Liberty” (1775) and “The Indian Burying Ground” (1788). He was a favorite of Thomas Jefferson’s.”

Excerpted from: Corey, Melinda, and George Ochoa. Literature: The New York Public Library Book of Answers. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993.