Friday, January 7, 2011

Poetry Friday--"Mother to Son"

"Mother to Son" is a poem by Langston Hughes. My bet is, it is frequently studied in elementary schools since its "meaning" and its metaphor are so simple and clear. Hughes spells it all out for the reader, tacks, splinters, and all.
Mother to Son

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.
Yale University has scads of a/v format material with Hughes performing his poetry, including "Mother to Son." Click here.

In this New Year, keep climbin', all you poetry-lovin' honeys! Take the stairs to
Live! Love! Explore! with Irene Latham, where you'll find this week's Poetry Friday Round-Up.


Photo by scottnj


Irene Latham said...

This is one of my most favorite poems. I HOPE kids are being exposed to it, because you're right... talk about accessible!

Andrea Murphy said...

Thanks for this, and the link to the Yale recordings. I loved listening to Hughes.

Carlie said...

What a wonderful poem. I can't wait to click the link and go listen to him read it.

I am also very intrigued by the books about famous women from particular states in the sidebar to the left there. They look pretty cool.

Diane Mayr said...

Thanks for commenting, ladies!

Carlie, the books are the first two in a series from Apprentice Shop Books. The Write Sisters wrote them jointly. Each book contains 25 outstanding women. Some of these women are well-known, others aren't. All of the women fought against great odds, such as prejudice, poverty, persecution, etc.

Our editor, Muriel, began with a goal of giving 4th grade students in New Hampshire, especially girls, short usable profiles for their local history curriculum assignments. Her vision has expanded and one of these days, there will be a book for every state in the union.

I've written a number of profiles, and each woman has been fascinating and surprising. It's nice to be involved in a project that celebrates women!

Doraine said...

This is a favorite. I love the voice. A good choice for the new year.

Ben Curran said...

Diane, this might be my favorite Langston Hughes poem...but that's a tough decision since he wrote so many great ones. I love it more every time I read it, so thanks for sharing it.

The Yale materials are new to me, and I can't wait to check them out!