I suppose there are a number of good reasons why I could never get into Langston Hughes. For one, He was writing from a place that as a young white male with a middle class upbringing I could not and still cannot fully appreciate. His sincerity is not spelled in flowery imagery or overbearing concepts. Instead it is often frank and stark. Obviously, it’s easy to respect such great work, but simply put, it just didn’t grab me.
After impulsively grabbing a collection of his poems from a used bookstore I found myself still unable to really enjoy his work no matter how many pages I read or how many times I read them. Though it didn’t take much to change my feelings on Hughes. As I sat on my bed listening to Christian Scott, I picked up the book and found myself immediately being pulled into every poem I read. The rhythms that had previously felt awkward to me now felt almost danceable and the lines which seemed rather bland now created powerful images. While some poets’ work is distracted by musical accompaniment, Hughes is lyrical in his approach causing the mind to sing his words over harmony and rhythm.
Read Hughes’s poem “Stars” while listening to “Isadora” by Christian Scott.
O, sweep of stars over Harlem streets,
O, little breath of oblivion that is night.
A city building
To a mother’s song.
A city dreaming
To a lullaby.
Reach up your hand, dark boy, and take a star.
Out of the little breath of oblivion
That is night,