Trumpet Player – Langston Hughes

The NegroWith the trumpet at his lips

Has dark moons of weariness

Beneath his eyes

where the smoldering memory

of slave ships

Blazed to the crack of whips

about thighs
The negro

with the trumpet at his lips

has a head of vibrant hair

tamed down,

patent-leathered now

until it gleams

like jet-

were jet a crown
the music

from the trumpet at his lips

is honey

mixed with liquid fire

the rhythm

from the trumpet at his lips

is ecstasy

distilled from old desire-

that is longing for the moon

where the moonlight’s but a spotlight

in his eyes,


that is longing for the sea

where the sea’s a bar-glass

sucker size
The Negro

with the trumpet at his lips

whose jacket

Has a fine one-button roll,

does not know

upon what riff the music slips
It’s hypodermic needle

to his soul

but softly

as the tune comes from his throat


mellows to a golden note 

When Sue Wears Red – Langston Hughes 

When Susanna Jones wears red

her face is like an ancient cameo

Turned brown by the ages.

Come with a blast of trumphets, Jesus!

When Susanna Jones wears red

A queen from some time-dead Egyptian night

Walks once again.

Blow trumphets, Jesus!

And the beauty of Susanna Jones in red

Burns in my heart a love-fire sharp like a pain.

Sweet silver trumphets, Jesus! 

Will V – Day Be Me – Day Too – Langston Hughes

Over There,World War II.
Dear Fellow Americans,

I write this letter

Hoping times will be better

When this war

Is through.

I’m a Tan-skinned Yank

Driving a tank.


I wear a U. S. uniform.

I’ve done the enemy much harm,

I’ve driven back

The Germans and the Japs,

From Burma to the Rhine.

On every battle line,

I’ve dropped defeat

Into the Fascists’ laps.
I am a Negro American

Out to defend my land

Army, Navy, Air Corps–

I am there.

I take munitions through,

I fight–or stevedore, too.

I face death the same as you do 

I’ve seen my buddy lying

Where he fell.

I’ve watched him dying

I promised him that I would try

To make our land a land

Where his son could be a man–

And there’d be no Jim Crow birds

Left in our sky.
So this is what I want to know:

When we see Victory’s glow,

Will you still let old Jim Crow

Hold me back?

When all those foreign folks who’ve waited–

Italians, Chinese, Danes–are liberated.

Will I still be ill-fated

Because I’m black?
Here in my own, my native land,

Will the Jim Crow laws still stand?

Will Dixie lynch me still

When I return?

Or will you comrades in arms

From the factories and the farms,

Have learned what this war

Was fought for us to learn?
When I take off my uniform,

Will I be safe from harm–

Or will you do me

As the Germans did the Jews?

When I’ve helped this world to save,

Shall I still be color’s slave?

Or will Victory change

Your antiquated views?
You can’t say I didn’t fight

To smash the Fascists’ might.

You can’t say I wasn’t with you

in each battle.

As a soldier, and a friend.

When this war comes to an end,

Will you herd me in a Jim Crow car

Like cattle?
Or will you stand up like a man

At home and take your stand

For Democracy?

That’s all I ask of you.

When we lay the guns away

To celebrate

Our Victory Day


That’s what I want to know.

GI Joe. 

You and Your Whole Race – Langston Hughes

You and your whole race.

Look down upon the town in which you live

And be ashamed.

Look down upon white folks 

And upon yourselves 

And be ashamed

That such supine poverty exists there,

That such stupid ignorance breeds children there

Behind such humble shelters of despair—

That you yourselves have not the sense to care

Nor the manhood to stand up and say

I dare you to come one step nearer, evil world,

With your hands of greed seeking to touch my throat, 

I dare you to come one step nearer me:

When you can say that

you will be free! 

Poem – The Negro Mother – Langston Hughes

Children, I come back today 

To tell you a story of the long dark way 

That I had to climb, that I had to know 

In order that the race might live and grow. 

Look at my face – dark as the night – 

Yet shining like the sun with love’s true light. 

I am the dark girl who crossed the red sea 

Carrying in my body the seed of the free. 

I am the woman who worked in the field 

Bringing the cotton and the corn to yield. 

I am the one who labored as a slave, 

Beaten and mistreated for the work that I gave – 

Children sold away from me, I’m husband sold, too. 

No safety, no love, no respect was I due. 
Three hundred years in the deepest South: 

But God put a song and a prayer in my mouth. 

God put a dream like steel in my soul. 

Now, through my children, I’m reaching the goal. 
Now, through my children, young and free, 

I realized the blessing deed to me. 

I couldn’t read then. I couldn’t write. 

I had nothing, back there in the night. 

Sometimes, the valley was filled with tears, 

But I kept trudging on through the lonely years. 

Sometimes, the road was hot with the sun, 

But I had to keep on till my work was done: 

I had to keep on! No stopping for me – 

I was the seed of the coming Free. 

I nourished the dream that nothing could smother 

Deep in my breast – the Negro mother. 

I had only hope then, but now through you, 

Dark ones of today, my dreams must come true: 

All you dark children in the world out there, 

Remember my sweat, my pain, my despair. 

Remember my years, heavy with sorrow – 

And make of those years a torch for tomorrow. 

Make of my pass a road to the light 

Out of the darkness, the ignorance, the night. 

Lift high my banner out of the dust. 

Stand like free men supporting my trust. 

Believe in the right, let none push you back. 

Remember the whip and the slaver’s track. 

Remember how the strong in struggle and strife 

Still bar you the way, and deny you life – 

But march ever forward, breaking down bars. 

Look ever upward at the sun and the stars. 

Oh, my dark children, may my dreams and my prayers 

Impel you forever up the great stairs – 

For I will be with you till no white brother 

Dares keep down the children of the Negro Mother.

Poem – Democracy – Langston Hughes

Democracy will not come 

Today, this year 

Nor ever 

Through compromise and fear. 
I have as much right 

As the other fellow has 

To stand 

On my two feet 

And own the land. 
I tire so of hearing people say, 

Let things take their course. 

Tomorrow is another day. 

I do not need my freedom when I’m dead. 

I cannot live on tomorrow’s bread. 

Is a strong seed 


In a great need. 
I live here, too. 

I want freedom 

Just as you.