Sunday, October 23, 2005

Mother to Son by Langston Hughes

Mother to Son
by Langston Hughes

Well, son, I'll tell you:
Life for me ain't been no crystal stair.
It's had tacks in it,
And splinters,
And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
But all the time
I'se been a-climbin' on,
And reachin' landin's,
And turnin' corners,
And sometimes goin' in the dark
Where there ain't been no light.
So, boy, don't you turn back.
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,
I'se still climbin',
And life for me ain't been no crystal stair.

This poem was most likely inspired by an actual conversation Hughes had with his mother. The poem's message is to basically never give up and don't expect things in life to be handed to you. The mother explains that nothing was ever given to her, and that life was filled with countless challenges. Life is represented as a staircase in this poem, and the mother refers to the more fortunate ones as having crystal stairs. The mother, on the other hand, had stairs filled with splinters and broken boards. Despite the obstacles, the mother explains to her son that he must continue to climb the stairs, and overcome the splinters and broken boards that hinder or impede his progress as his mother has done and continues to do. I think this is a beautiful poem, and reminds me that splinters and broken boards make the journey up the staircase more interesting and satisfying. Perhaps the shape of the poem was meant to symbolize steps as well.


Blogger brianne fong said...

This well-known poem has inspired many, i know - including myself. When I read this post, it automatically took me back to my high school days when I had first read pieces by Langston Hughes. I like this poem and John's interpretation of it because it's a message that spares no one and that everyone can, in some way or another, relate to. The metaphor is strong and every interpretation of this poem has been encouraging to it's readers as well as a good reflection of the strength of its poet.

10:43 PM  

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