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(69,014 posts)
Sun Feb 1, 2015, 05:19 AM Feb 2015

Saturday was Langston Hughes' birthday. I met him.

Won 5th prize in an NYC poetry contest for high school students. 1st to 4th prizes got a check. I got a lousy book. I was so mad, so bitter, I shook the hand of this man I didn't know as he presented me this book, his book, inscribed to me in green ink, and sat down again.

Got home, put the book on a shelf, didn't read it.

Until the day, years later, I read in the newspaper that Langston Hughes had died. That's when I took the dusty book down from the high shelf and read my first edition of Selected Poems.

I have so many regrets of the fool things I've done with my life, but the greatest seems to be that I was too ignorant, too unread, and too churlish to tell Mr. Hughes how brilliant he was and how his poems gutted me straight to the heart.

I had the chance.

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Saturday was Langston Hughes' birthday. I met him. (Original Post) aquart Feb 2015 OP
Rest in peace Langston Hughes. lovemydog Feb 2015 #1
How did you not know who Hughes was, in NYC, with an interest in poetry, in that period? ND-Dem Feb 2015 #2
I'd like to know that, too. aquart Feb 2015 #5
Meh. He knew he was brilliant. Smarmie Doofus Feb 2015 #3
He should have been shaking the hand of a starry-eyed acolyte aquart Feb 2015 #6
Lucky you malaise Feb 2015 #4
Yeah. aquart Feb 2015 #7
Depends on whether you like poetry malaise Feb 2015 #9
Look at the glass as at least partially full Rhiannon12866 Feb 2015 #10
Don't get me started on regrets LuvNewcastle Feb 2015 #8
+++ fadedrose Feb 2015 #20
What a great memory to have, you met one of the best ever...if it makes you feel better I once had Bluenorthwest Feb 2015 #11
Had a friend who was in Manhattan looking for her wedding gown. aquart Feb 2015 #17
You're being too hard on yourself, I feel. What an exceptional man, and you can leave the Jefferson23 Feb 2015 #12
indeed Duppers Feb 2015 #14
Ahhh. Not sure I still have the book. aquart Feb 2015 #18
Hope you're in better health now and you find the book. Jefferson23 Feb 2015 #19
Lots of good used books online fadedrose Feb 2015 #21
google's video today honoring him Duppers Feb 2015 #13
Ah, youth. - nt KingCharlemagne Feb 2015 #15
great poem bigtree Feb 2015 #16
I hate Rod McKuen just died. He was the prom queen judge at our high school prom. benz380 Feb 2015 #22


(11,833 posts)
1. Rest in peace Langston Hughes.
Sun Feb 1, 2015, 05:31 AM
Feb 2015

A Dream Deferred
by Langston Hughes

What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?



(69,014 posts)
5. I'd like to know that, too.
Sun Feb 1, 2015, 08:38 AM
Feb 2015

When Susannah Jones Wears Red is not something I could have forgotten, it lights fires of joy.

I did know one poem, though I didn't know it was his, because Belafonte made a production of it:

I wish the rent
Was heaven sent.


(204,902 posts)
10. Look at the glass as at least partially full
Sun Feb 1, 2015, 09:30 AM
Feb 2015

If you hadn't met him and had the book, you probably wouldn't have discovered his marvelous words at all. He gave you a great gift...


(16,843 posts)
8. Don't get me started on regrets
Sun Feb 1, 2015, 09:18 AM
Feb 2015

and missed chances in life. We all have them. That ache is the human condition, or at least part of it.


(10,044 posts)
20. +++
Mon Feb 2, 2015, 08:56 AM
Feb 2015

Your post reads like poetry . . .

Make it rhyme so it's catchy . . . . although it needn't rhyme.... so very true and says so much with so few words.



(45,319 posts)
11. What a great memory to have, you met one of the best ever...if it makes you feel better I once had
Sun Feb 1, 2015, 10:11 AM
Feb 2015

a conversation lasting several minutes with a very nice man I did not recognize as being baseball legend Mickey Mantel. Friends who witnessed the encounter were appalled that I'd not known who he was. I'm sports illiterate.


(69,014 posts)
17. Had a friend who was in Manhattan looking for her wedding gown.
Mon Feb 2, 2015, 07:58 AM
Feb 2015

We were crossing a street on 5th Avenue when she suddenly turned back and followed a man who had just passed us, saying "Bella, bella..." The man stopped, turned, took her hand, sighed regretfully over her engagement ring, said a few words and continued on his way. When she got back to my side of the street, I said, "Marilyn, you were just holding hands with Warren Beatty!"

"NOOOOOooo!" shrieked Marilyn. "You're kidding! You're just kidding, right?" The whole way home she kept asking me that.

Nope. Not kidding.That night I saw Beatty on Johnny Carson. None of his jokes fell flat. He must have been well-pleased with himself when he decided to take Marilyn's hand and give her a memory to treasure.


(30,099 posts)
12. You're being too hard on yourself, I feel. What an exceptional man, and you can leave the
Sun Feb 1, 2015, 10:18 AM
Feb 2015

inscribed book to your family with your story....a win win.


(69,014 posts)
18. Ahhh. Not sure I still have the book.
Mon Feb 2, 2015, 08:07 AM
Feb 2015

When I flew out to California nearly 2 years ago, I was too ill to do my own packing or unpacking. Some of my book boxes are still unopened because there's no space for them. Haven't seen the Hughes since before I left.


(30,099 posts)
19. Hope you're in better health now and you find the book.
Mon Feb 2, 2015, 08:49 AM
Feb 2015

If not, may I suggest..buy another copy, write your story down inside the cover..that
would be awesome to pass on to family.


(85,977 posts)
16. great poem
Sun Feb 1, 2015, 12:17 PM
Feb 2015
Langston Hughes - Let America Be America Again

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.&quot

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!



(534 posts)
22. I hate Rod McKuen just died. He was the prom queen judge at our high school prom.
Mon Feb 2, 2015, 09:04 AM
Feb 2015

He refused to pick one prom queen and picked them all, so the principal ended up picking the queen.
I loved McKuen's style of poetry and copied his style when I was writing poetry to girlfriends back in the day.
It never failed me!

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