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—
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.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Langston Hughes's poem Mother to Son


  1. mariah says:

    I have never read naything like this ever before i have read just about every poet you can think of and out of everyone i have read about this poem is with no hesitation and a doubt AMAZING. This is ridicously beautiful.

  2. Debbie says:

    I recited this poem to my daughter and other high school grads. I encouraged them to keep climbing.

  3. Debbie Kelly says:

    I really like this poem. I enjoy talking to my children about life lessons and then adding this poem at the end of our conversation.

  4. Shirley CT says:

    I lay awake early this morning dealing with a major problem in my life, as tears streamed down my face, the words to this poem came to mind. I could not believe how much of the poem I remembered. It lifted my burdens and I wanted to share it with my other friends who were dealing with the same problem. Thank you God for allowing Langston Hughes to write such a simple yet timeless, nurturing poem.

  5. Brooke says:

    I have chosen this poem as my supplementary text analysis on belonging. I find it is quite difficult to find good official poetry that fits to the context of belonging. This poem irritates me. First of all it has almost no rhyme and rhythmn and it only includes techniques such as symbolism and emotive language. Any suggestions for other poems would be extremely helpful, or other techniques and innovative ways I could approach this poem. This homework task is a real struggle for me, I have completed the task but feels like its missing the depth and central message. I cant find anything more than Parental message for their children to have the motivation and determination to get themselves through life in the best possible ways. Please help, thanks,

  6. brittany says:

    i really hated this poem the first time i read it because i didnt really understand what it meant but now that i understand what it means i really enjoy this poem to the fullest.

  7. Charmaine says:

    Langston Hughes said in a few short phrases what most parents want to convey to their children: Keep trying. Move forward, look ahead. Don’t stop. Don’t look back. The struggle to survive well never ends. We want more for our children than we had ourselves. No, my life “ain’t been no crystal stair,” either, but that’s no reason for YOU to lie down! (Thank you, Langston Hughes, for a poem I could share with my son. We both enjoyed it!)

    BTW, who cares about the color of your skin? Life’s struggles affect us all.

  8. Kilie says:

    what does this poem mean?? i have to do a assighnment on this and i can’t seem to figure out what this poem means?? 🙂

  9. matthew says:

    i need more anaylized one.

  10. darwin says:

    the poem………..i deeply appreciated it.. it has interesting messages…..it is good for the heart when tried to internalize….

  11. Rachel Tillman says:

    Langston Hughes has always been one of my favorite poets. I love his superb usage of the metaphor “The Crystal Stair. I’ve referenced this poem many times while raising my son as a single Parent.

  12. K says:

    I didn’t like this the first time I read it, but then we had to analyze like every single word and write an essay on it for school and now I absolutely HATE IT.

  13. HYEH JUNG YOE says:

    Sori my engrish not very good but I just want to say I had thiss poem for my exams and I realli enjoy it.

  14. Dlaine Tan says:

    Ive choosen this for my poetry project as i really can relate to this. The mother in the poem is cares a lot for her son as she gives him advice; and to us too. There are life lessons we can learn from the poem, such as going on in the face of hardships and not giving up too easily.

  15. Reynelda Gilleylen says:

    This poem, written by the great Langston Hughes is an all time favorite of mine and a Legend to African Americans. Like, so any Afrian Americans,(as well as others, but especially African Americans) the Mother in the poem has struggled to overcome various obstacles that could have hindered her. However, her faith and determination have allowed her to persevere. Therefore, she (like Hughes) is taking the time to encourage, inspire and inform her son that life is not always going to easy, fun or even comprehensive. There will be times that one may feel like giving up, doing something wring or just doubting one ‘s self (all which reap poor results) Throughout these times,” look to the hills which cometh your help”…and dwell not on earthly things..for joy cometh in the morning……so be ye steadfast in your faith and strive to persevere and success will be yours. This is a very valuable lesson and the fact that Mr. Hughes is sharing this it is very inspiring to me. I enjoy & admire him for his work and positive endeavors; and I too, will do my part to encourage others (especially my son)….and students that Life for me Ain’t been no crystal stair, neither will theirs but hardwork and determination….failure is impossible. As my dear Grandmother used to say,,,”It;s okay to fall;but don’t wollow !”……Get Back up Again!

  16. stokes says:

    Langston Hughes is a legend in his own time. This particular poem has given me strength to believe in myself and to proceed towards my goals and aspirations.
    Thank You Mr. Hughes. Gone but not forgotten.

  17. marie says:

    this was the best poem i ever read it has been my favorit since 1st grade i absoultly love the poet i can realate to her

  18. TAN says:


  19. Annette Blake says:

    Perseverance and determination are key concepts inspired by this poem.
    Challenges are many, in spite of challenges, we must continue forward.

  20. Verona A. Satchell says:

    A poem in which Langston Hughes speaks to the reader. Poem with supurb use of imagery and methaphors. A poem every student should read. The message can be an inspiration to everyone, regardless of the circumstance.

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