Langston Hughes

(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967 / Missouri)

Theme for English B


The instructor said,

Go home and write
a page tonight.
And let that page come out of you--
Then, it will be true.

I wonder if it's that simple?
I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem.
I went to school there, then Durham, then here
to this college on the hill above Harlem.
I am the only colored student in my class.
The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem,
through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas,
Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y,
the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator
up to my room, sit down, and write this page:

It's not easy to know what is true for you or me
at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I'm what
I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you:
hear you, hear me--we two--you, me, talk on this page.
(I hear New York, too.) Me--who?
Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.
I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.
I like a pipe for a Christmas present,
or records--Bessie, bop, or Bach.
I guess being colored doesn't make me not like
the same things other folks like who are other races.
So will my page be colored that I write?

Being me, it will not be white.
But it will be
a part of you, instructor.
You are white--
yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.
That's American.
Sometimes perhaps you don't want to be a part of me.
Nor do I often want to be a part of you.
But we are, that's true!
As I learn from you,
I guess you learn from me--
although you're older--and white--
and somewhat more free.

This is my page for English B.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • Rookie Richard Stevens (9/24/2012 4:41:00 PM)

    Try to recite it as if you actually were the little boy. It'll make it sound so much nicer. I also love the way the young man tries to see the comical aspect of the situation, for instance in the last lines, even though it is a serious subject. Moreover, I find Hughes manages to illustrate and depict the student's mind beautifully by mentioning the things he love: Well, I like to eat, sleep and be in love. I like to drink, eat and understand life I'm in love with that phrase: simple, yet so wonderfully put (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Pluto binisha PLuto (4/6/2009 6:28:00 AM)

    for me this poem is a total mistry as
    i cant understand any thing except
    he is coloured and has to rite a piece of writing
    but i m sorry as i m only in 7th grade (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Andrea Gutierrez (10/8/2005 12:40:00 PM)

    I know how it is to live a different culture and interact with others and have noticed that in my writing it will be a part of me. Me as a writer, as a young educated woman, I find this poem true. Langston Hughes just knew how to put it in words and that is why this is one of my favorite poems. (Report) Reply

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