Monday, July 9, 2018

Langston Hughes*

Langston Hughes (1902—1967) is the leading figure in the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. Throughout his life he struggled with the attraction he felt for Christian faith and the beauty it poured into black American culture, in contrast with the uses religion is so often put to that have nothing to do with God.

His written output includes novels, plays, short fiction, non-fiction and especially poetry. He felt it important to write for children, such as in his poetry collection The Dream Keeper and Other Poems (1932), about the culture of Black America, and about Christian faith. Hughes "gospel-singing play" Tambourines To Glory premiered on Broadway in 1963. The play was controversial in that it also took on issues of hypocrisy within the Black church.

In the following poem, Langston Hughes uses a black persona, perhaps as a way of expressing his own deep desires without identifying them as his own.


I'm deep in trouble,
Nobody to understand,
---Lord, Lord!

Deep in trouble,
Nobody to understand,
---O, Lord!

Gonna pray to ma Jesus,
Ask him to gimme His hand.
---Ma Lord!

I'm moanin', moanin',
Nobody cares just why.
---No, Lord!

Moanin', moanin',
Feels like I could die.
---O, Lord!

Sho, there must be peace,
Ma Jesus,
Somewhere in yo' sky.
---Yes Lord!

*This is the second Kingdom Poets post about Langston Hughes: first post

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.