Langston Hughes

(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967 / Missouri)

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
Edited: Thursday, December 18, 2014

Topic of this poem: mother

# 26 poem on top 500 Poems


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Comments about this poem (Mother to Son by Langston Hughes )

  • Rookie Lillian walke (2/1/2015 11:35:00 AM)

    Love this poem (Report) Reply

  • Rookie iasia webster (1/24/2015 10:46:00 AM)

    Wow (Report) Reply

  • Rookie cynthia smith (1/18/2015 9:35:00 PM)

    7th grade recital still remember every word. My mom was so proud!! (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 37,072 Points Aftab Alam Khursheed (10/31/2014 10:26:00 PM)

    This is the poem here protagonist as a mother putting fire on dead soul- strong call to change.change or awake awake to the young generations (to the son) ..very powerful write (Report) Reply

  • Bronze Star - 6,986 Points Frank Avon (9/1/2014 4:39:00 PM)

    One of my favorites for a long, long time. (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 4,240 Points Primrose Tee (7/2/2014 1:52:00 PM)

    Keep on keeping on son for you see,not all of us were born with silver spoons... (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 10,411 Points * Sunprincess * (5/13/2014 10:00:00 AM)

    .......nicely written...truly life isn't easy for anyone... (Report) Reply

  • Freshman - 1,369 Points Herbert Guitang (4/25/2014 7:59:00 AM)

    Life is full of challenges to face. This poem is like a mirror to us. He is a Great poet (Report) Reply

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

    Hi, i'm Billy (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 79 Points Mazhur Butt (1/16/2014 1:28:00 PM)

    an everlasting poem...... (Report) Reply

  • Rookie 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. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 9 Points Emeyazia Iwe Chukwudi (8/22/2013 3:19:00 PM)

    Great poem with a great moral. Well done. Langston hughes. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie 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 (Report) Reply

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

    I like your poem. It is very touchies (Report) Reply

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

    to my son THANDOKUHLE, mom love you boy (Report) Reply

  • Rookie 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. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 36 Points 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. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie 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. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Hope Anonymous (5/28/2010 3:26:00 PM)

    Maybe if African-Americans (specifically males) actually realized how much their ancestors suffered 'back-in-the-day' they'd actually take the time to become something more in their lives instead of sinking to violence and drugs, etc.This poem and 'The Negro Mother' has definately inspired me to become Something in my life...to make all my ancestors and all the Black people who died for me to have the privledges that I have now, proud. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Jessica Hughes (5/25/2009 2:25:00 PM)

    Such a sweet and endearing poem. A mother's love.... (Report) Reply

Read all 40 comments »

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