Born in Joplin, Missouri, on February 1, 1901, James Mercer Langston Hughes was a renowned figure of the Harlem Renaissance, instrumental in shaping the artistic contributions of the era.
Hughes’s eclectic life experiences, from his childhood in Lincoln, Illinois to his travels to Mexico, Africa and Europe, significantly influenced his poetry.
His first poetry collection, ‘The Weary Blues’, was published by Alfred A. Knopf in 1926, establishing him as a distinctive voice in the literary landscape.
His work, spanning novels, short stories, plays and poetry, was deeply influenced by his engagement with jazz and resonated with the essence of Black life in America from the 1920s to 1960s.
Unlike his contemporaries, Hughes aimed to encapsulate the shared experience of Black America authentically.
He also penned eleven plays, numerous prose works, co-edited ‘The Poetry of the Negro, 1746–1949’, edited ‘The Book of Negro Folklore’ and wrote an acclaimed autobiography, ‘The Big Sea’.
Hughes passed away in 1967, with his Harlem residence being honored with landmark status.
Best Langston Hughes Quotes
Life doesn’t frighten me at all. ~ Langston Hughes.
Never look for a worm in the apple of your eye. ~ Langston Hughes.
Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby. ~ Langston Hughes.
Life is a egg you have to be patient and careful with it or it will brake. ~ Langston Hughes.
Wear it Like a banner For the proud? Not like a shroud. ~ Langston Hughes.
To some people Love is given, To others Only Heaven. ~ Langston Hughes.
Frosting Freedom Is just frosting On somebody else’s Cake – And so must be Till we Learn how to Bake. ~ Langston Hughes.
The rain plays a little sleep song on our roof at night
And I love the rain. ~ Langston Hughes.
I have discovered in life that there are ways of getting almost anywhere you want to go, if you really want to go. ~ Langston Hughes.
Gather up In the arms of your love – Those who expect No love from above. ~ Langston Hughes.
Blues had the pulse beat of the people who keep on going. ~ Langston Hughes.
I got the Weary Blues
And I can’t be satisfied. ~ Langston Hughes.
Famous Langston Hughes Quotes
I’ve known rivers: I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins. My soul has grown deep like the rivers. ~ Langston Hughes.
Out of love, No regrets – Though the goodness Be wasted forever. Out of love, No regrets – Though the return Be never. ~ Langston Hughes.
Democracy will not come Today, this year Nor ever Through compromise and fear. ~ Langston Hughes.
Out of darkness
All the songs you know
And throw them at the sun
Before they melt Like snow. ~ Langston Hughes.
It has seemed to me that most people are generally good, in every race and in every country where I have been. ~ Langston Hughes.
I loved my friend
He went away from me
There’s nothing more to say
The poem ends
Soft as it began
I loved my friend. ~ Langston Hughes.
A world I dream where black or white, whatever race you be, will share the bounties of the earth and every man is free. ~ Langston Hughes.
What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up Like a raisin in the sun? Or does it explode? ~ Langston Hughes.
The prerequisite for writing is having something to say. ~ Langston Hughes.
Politics in any country in the world is dangerous. For the poet, politics in any country had better be disguised as poetry. Politics can be the graveyard of the poet. And only poetry can be his resurrection. ~ Langston Hughes.
These feet have walked ten thousand miles working for white folks and another ten thousand keeping up with colored. ~ Langston Hughes.
Don’t come giving me, who’s old enough to die and too near blind to create anything any more anyhow, a great big banquet that you eat up in honor of your own stomachs as much as in honor of me- who’s toothless and can’t eat. ~ Langston Hughes.
Ultimate Langston Hughes Quotes
Everybody should take each other as they are, white, black, Indians, Creole. Then there would be no prejudice, nations would get along. ~ Langston Hughes.
Sometimes I wish the public were equally aware of the men of our race in the cultural fields. You, for instance, have you ever bought a book by a Negro writer? ~ Langston Hughes.
I am a Negro: Black as the night is black, Black like the depths of my Africa. ~ 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? ~ Langston Hughes.
What happens to a dream deferred? ~ Langston Hughes.
Negroes – Sweet and docile, Meek, humble, and kind: Beware the day – They change their mind. ~ Langston Hughes.
When a man starts out to build a world, He starts first with himself. ~ Langston Hughes.
A picture, to be an interesting picture, must be more than a picture, otherwise it is only a reproduction of an object, and not an object of value in itself. ~ Langston Hughes.
I will not take “but” for an answer. ~ Langston Hughes.
For my best poems were all written when I felt the worst. When I was happy, I didn’t write anything. ~ Langston Hughes.
Life is a big sea full of many fish. I let down my nets and pulled. I’m still pulling. ~ Langston Hughes.
We build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how, and we stand on top of the mountain, free within ourselves. ~ Langston Hughes.
People up today and down tomorrow, working this week and fired the next, beaten and baffled, but determined not to be wholly beaten, buying furniture on the installment plan, filling the house with roomers to help pay the rent, hoping to get a new suit for Easter – and pawning that suit before the Fourth of July. ~ Langston Hughes.
Popular Langston Hughes Quotes
I stuck my head out the window this morning and spring kissed me bang in the face. ~ Langston Hughes.
Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly. ~ Langston Hughes.
Politics can be the graveyard of the poet. And only poetry can be his resurrection. ~ Langston Hughes.
Oh, God of Dust and Rainbows
Help us to see
That without the dust the rainbow
Would not be. ~ Langston Hughes.
I was unhappy for a long time, and very lonesome, living with my grandmother. Then it was that books began to happen to me, and I began to believe in nothing but books and the wonderful world in books – where if people suffered, they suffered in beautiful language, not in monosyllables, as we did in Kansas. ~ Langston Hughes.
Let America be America again. Let it be the dream it used to be. ~ Langston Hughes.
There is no color line in death. ~ Langston Hughes.
Humor is when the joke’s on you but hits the other fellow first – before it boomerangs. ~ Langston Hughes.
Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love. I like to work, read, learn, and understand life. ~ Langston Hughes.
Cora was like a tree – once rooted, she stood, in spite of storms and strife, wind, and rocks, in the earth. ~ Langston Hughes.
One of the great difficulties about being a member of a minority race is that so many kindhearted, well-meaning bores gather around to help. ~ Langston Hughes.
Whiskey just naturally likes me but beer likes me better. ~ Langston Hughes.
Top Langston Hughes Quotes
Let America be America, where equality is in the air we breathe. ~ Langston Hughes.
Let the rain sing you a lullaby. ~ Langston Hughes.
I will not take ‘but’ for an answer. Negroes have been looking at democracy’s ‘but’ too long. ~ Langston Hughes.
Keep your hand on the plow. Hold on. ~ Langston Hughes.
I went down to the river, I set down on the bank. I tried to think but couldn’t, So I jumped in and sank. ~ Langston Hughes.
I wish the rent Was heaven sent. ~ Langston Hughes.
When poems stop talking about the moon and begin to mention poverty, trade unions, color, color lines and colonies, somebody tells the police. ~ Langston Hughes.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers. ~ Langston Hughes.
Gather out of star-dust, Earth-dust, Cloud-dust, Storm-dust, And splinters of hail, One handful of dream-dust, Not for sale. ~ Langston Hughes.
The past has been a mint
Of blood and sorrow.
That must not be True of tomorrow. ~ Langston Hughes.
Hold onto your dreams. ~ Langston Hughes.
I am the American heartbreak – The rock on which Freedom Stumped its toe. ~ Langston Hughes.
I’m so tired of waiting, aren’t you, for the world to become good and beautiful and kind? ~ Langston Hughes.
Hang yourself, poet, in your own words. Otherwise, you are dead. ~ Langston Hughes.
Looks like what drives me crazy
Don’t have no effect on you
But I’m gonna keep on at it
Till it drives you crazy, too. ~ Langston Hughes.
Humor is laughing at what you haven’t got when you ought to have it. ~ Langston Hughes.
Great Langston Hughes Quotes
I am the darker brother. They send me to eat in the kitchen when company comes, but I laugh, and eat well, and grow strong. ~ Langston Hughes.
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair. ~ Langston Hughes.
The calm, Cool face of the river, Asked me for a kiss. ~ Langston Hughes.
Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams… ~ Langston Hughes.
To create a market for your writing you have to be consistent, professional, a continuing writer – not just a one-article or a one-story or a one-book man. ~ Langston Hughes.
When people care for you and cry for you, they can straighten out your soul. ~ Langston Hughes.
Cheap little rhymes
A cheap little tune
Are sometimes as dangerous
As a sliver of the moon. ~ Langston Hughes.
Money and art are far apart. ~ Langston Hughes.
Folks, I’m telling you, birthing is hard and dying is mean – so get yourself a little loving in between. ~ Langston Hughes.
Like a welcome summer rain, humor may suddenly cleanse and cool the earth, the air and you. ~ Langston Hughes.
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. ~ Langston Hughes.
An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he might choose. ~ Langston Hughes.
We Negro writers, just by being black, have been on the blacklist all our lives. Censorship for us begins at the color line. ~ Langston Hughes.
When you turn the corner
And you run into yourself
Then you know that you have turned
All the corners that are left. ~ Langston Hughes.
Beauty for some provides escape, who gain a happiness in eyeing the gorgeous buttocks of the ape or Autumn sunsets exquisitely dying. ~ Langston Hughes.
Wise Langston Hughes Quotes
I know how to handle women who act like ladies, but my landlady ain’t no lady. Sometimes I even wish I was living with my wife again so I could have my own place and not have no landladies. ~ Langston Hughes.
The rhythm of life is a jazz rhythm. ~ Langston Hughes.
I look at my own body With eyes no longer blind
And I see that my own hands can make
The world that’s in my mind. ~ Langston Hughes.
Though you may hear me holler, And you may see me cry – I’ll be dogged, sweet baby, If you gonna see me die. ~ Langston Hughes.
Misery is when you heard on the radio that the neighborhood you live in is a slum but you always thought it was home. ~ Langston Hughes.
I asked you, baby, If you understood
You told me that you didn’t
But you thought you would. ~ Langston Hughes.
I don’t want no pretty woman. First thing you know, you fall in love with her-then you got to kill somebody about her. She’ll make you so jealous, you’ll bust! ~ Langston Hughes.
Life is for the living. Death is for the dead. Let life be like music. And death a note unsaid. ~ Langston Hughes.
It’s such a Bore Being always Poor. ~ Langston Hughes.
The depression brought everybody down a peg or two. And the Negro had but few pegs to fall. ~ Langston Hughes.
For poems are like rainbows; they escape you quickly. ~ Langston Hughes.
Why should I want to be white? I am a Negro – and beautiful! ~ Langston Hughes.
Most musicians remain poor. But the music that they make, even if it does not bring them millions, gives millions of people happiness. ~ Langston Hughes.
America never was America to me And yet I swear this oath – America will be! ~ Langston Hughes.
I stay cool, and dig all jive, That’s the way I stay alive. My motto, as I live and learn, is Dig and be dug In return. ~ Langston Hughes.
Good morning, Revolution: You’re the very best friend I ever had. We gonna pal around together from now on. ~ Langston Hughes.
There’s a certain amount of traveling in a dream deferred. ~ Langston Hughes.
Love is a naked shadow;
On a gnarled and naked tree. ~ Langston Hughes.
This morning I paid seventy cents for two little old dried-up slivers of bacon and one cockeyed egg. It took me till noon to get my appetite back. ~ Langston Hughes.
Life is a system of half-truths and lies, Opportunistic, convenient evasion. ~ Langston Hughes.
So these were the 100 top Langston Hughes quotes on dreams and life.