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(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967 / Missouri)

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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—
Bare.
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.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003


Read poems about / on: sometimes, son, dark, light, mother, life, time

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Comments about this poem (Cultural Exchange by Langston Hughes )

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  • Billy Sanders (3/11/2014 6:23:00 PM)

    Hi, i'm Billy

    8 person liked.
    8 person did not like.
  • Mazhur Butt (1/16/2014 1:28:00 PM)

    an everlasting poem......

  • Maiya Evans (12/18/2013 8:05:00 PM)

    Mother To Son is clearly saying that with perserverence comes success. Because if you try over and over again you can get somewhere in life. Whereas if you give up after the first time you try, then you know that you won't be able to accomplish anything in life. Like the singer P! nk once said, You gotta get up and try, try, try. The mother in this poem is portayed as an uneducated lady who struggled through life. Since she went through all this herself, she doesn't want her son going down the same path she went down. In the poem his mother says that life for me ain't been no crystal stair, which shows that life for her was very difficult and wasnt clear cut like how some people's lives may seem. When she implies that the staircase has had tacks in it, And splinters, And boards torn up, And places with no carpet on the floor— Bare, she's saying that there were obstacles along the way while she experienced many things. But afterwards she states that 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, that no matter what life threw at her, she found a way to get through it all.

  • Emeyazia Iwe Chukwudi (8/22/2013 3:19:00 PM)

    Great poem with a great moral. Well done. Langston hughes.

  • Te'anna Nixon (8/21/2012 6:35:00 PM)

    i love your poem it teaches us that no matter what we go through in life bucause its going to be hard we can't give up on life or on the challenges it throws at you

  • Katelyn Lazard (2/16/2012 4:49:00 PM)

    I like your poem. It is very touchies

  • Peacefull Nontokozo (10/11/2011 7:14:00 AM)

    to my son THANDOKUHLE, mom love you boy

  • Francine Menaker (9/20/2011 3:53:00 PM)

    This poem is not only toching and inspiring, the imagery is amazing. The juxtaposition of the smoothness of the crystal stair with the tacks. I've read this poem for over 40 years and it still conjures up incredible images - in the most simple way.

  • Israh Sadan (8/18/2011 5:19:00 PM)

    While the message is inspiring this poem is also wonderfully rhythmic. If you read it as the words of a tired old woman, patiently making her way up the stairs, climbing over life's challenges. You hear the pulse of determination in these words. I love this poem.

  • Cleapatra Born2Write (6/17/2010 1:15:00 AM)

    What an endearing and loving scene between a hard working mother and her son. Even through the lack of education and the never ending hardship of poverty; this mother was able to give her son advice that was priceless. The two lines that stuck me the most were:
    Don't you set down on the steps.
    'Cause you finds it's kinder hard.
    We all need to get up off the steps and persevere. The struggles we face today are minute, and minimal compared to the struggles our ancestors made.

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