Poetry has always been a powerful way to document history, catalog feelings and discoveries and give experiences a chance to echo through the halls of time. Whether spoken or in written form, Black communities use poetry as a way to etch their stories into a world that has so often tried to deny them of their memories. Today, we embrace the timeless artistry of the leader of the Harlem Renaissance, Mr. Langston Hughes.
The Harlem Renaissance was a revival period for Black artists, intellectuals and creatives that began in Harlem, NY and took the country by storm through the 1920’s and 30’s. Langston Hughes was a voice of the times from the start. He believed in advocating for change and celebrating his peers. Hughes found poignant ways to articulate the experiences of Black Americans through essays, plays, novels, and, of course, poetry.
We could carry on and on telling you of Hughes’s skill for vivid truth-telling. Yet, it would never do his legacy justice. The best way to get acquainted with the writer’s genius is to experience it for yourself. Feel the hurt, love and radiating joy he discusses with themes of Jazz and attempts to define the “American Dream”.
Langston Hughes’s Most Popular Poems
Here are 22 of Langston Hughes’s most well-known poems. Each one is not only evidence of his brilliance, but evidence of the outrageous disadvantages and beautiful celebrations that Black communities are all too familiar with. May these poems become a hand to hold as you continue creating your own brave, bold legacy!
- Let America be America Again
- Montage of a Dream Deferred (This poem is book-length and not available freely on the internet. Yet it can be found in The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes)
- I, Too
- The Weary Blues
- Lullaby (For a Black Mother)
- The Dream Keeper
- Juke Box Love Song
- Po’ Boy Blues
- I Look at the World
- The Negro Speaks of Rivers
- Helen Keller
- Dream Variations
- Mother to Son
- Life is Fine
- I Continue to Dream
- Harlem Night Club
- Dream Boogie
- I Dream A World
- My People
- Still Here
Here are some of our favorite collections to get you started!
The Dream Keeper and Other Poems
The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes
The Weary Blues
Not Without Laughter
The Short Stories of Langston Hughes
Discover more Black poets with these eight collections that celebrate Black culture.