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Ten Poetic Quotes by Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes was an African-American poet and social activist who became the leader of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s. Born in Joplin, Missouri on February 1, 1902, Hughes was an innovator of the jazz poetry art form. Hughes also wrote novels, short stories, essays, and plays. His artistic life was centered around portraying the joys and hardships of African-American lives. Hughes died on May 22, 1967, due to complications from prostate cancer. After his death, his home, located at 20 East 127th Street, was given landmark status by the New York City Preservation Commission, and East 127th Street goes by the name of “Langston Hughes Place.”

1. “Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.”

2. “I have discovered in life that there are ways of getting almost anywhere you want to go if you really want to go.”

3. “To my mind, it is the duty of the younger [African-American artist], if he accepts any duties at all from outsiders, to change through the force of his art from that old whispering ‘I want to be [European],’ hidden in the aspirations of his people, to ‘Why should I want to be [European]? I am a [Afrikan]—and beautiful!’

4 “When a man starts out to build a world, He starts first with himself.”

5. “The only way to get a thing done is to start to do it, then keep on doing it, and finally you’ll finish it…”

6. “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.”

7. “When people care for you and cry for you, they can straighten out your soul.”

8. “The night is beautiful. So are the faces of my people.”

9. “Humor is laughing at what you haven’t got when you ought to have it… what you wish in your secret heart were not funny, but it is, and you must laugh. Humor is your own unconscious therapy. Like a welcome summer rain, humor may suddenly cleanse and cool the earth, the air, and you.”

10. “Life is an egg you have to be patient and careful with it or it will break.”

See also, 10 Poems By Langston Hughes You Should Know.

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