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.

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

101 Comments

  1. Deb Royse says:

    This poem has so much meaning for me. Its as though he looked at my life and wrote it for me. As a single mom of four boys, it has been a struggle. I came across the poem several years ago and it hangs on the front of my fridge. But I want my boys to realize that even if things get hard, you don’t give up. You gotta keep on going, no matter what. I love this poem and it will always be an inspiration to me.

  2. cyndi says:

    i really like this poem, maybe because i myself am a single mother. i understand the struggle of life and i know that no matter what unforseen circumstances come up i must keep going, especially for my childern. and i want them to grow up with the same mentality that no matter what happens not to give up.

  3. temple says:

    ths poem was so good i am in the 6th grade and i read this poem in the 5th grade and now i am getting the undersanding of the poem i am not saying it is bad but i ain’t saying it is good

  4. Rose says:

    wow this poem is awesome. i had to analyze a poem for school and i am so happy i found this one. also thanks to anyone who has posted a comment it has been a great help to me

  5. Tina says:

    I have read this poem every year for the past 3 years. Every single time i read it, it moved me. it showed me that life is unexpected and you just have to keep going.

  6. :-/ says:

    OMG…i cant believe this…you people actually LIKE this poem? i red a lot of poems, and i remembered this one because its probably THE WORST i ever red…i’m shocked…people actually LIKE this?

  7. foram says:

    I had to do a poem based on this and this poem is so true!!

  8. Christina says:

    I have had to do an essay on this poem talking about the extended metaphor and the theme of the poem… i’ve been wondering what you guys think on my idea

    i think the theme is determination with a little bit of hurt and anger to show that life “ain’t been no crystal stair”

  9. BIG T says:

    I REALLY LIKE THIS POEM IT IS PRETTY COOL.IM IN THE 8TH GRADE AND WE R DOIN A PROJECT ON DIFFERENT KINDS OF POETS SO I PICKED LANGSTON HUGHES SO I STARTED READING HIS POEMS AND I LIKE THEM PRETTY WELL!!!!

  10. hot toddy says:

    I think that making pancakes is like this poem.

  11. Teresa says:

    The first time I was introduced to Lagston’s writings I was in the 5th grade. I am now a teacher, I have introduced my studetns to this great poetry and they love it. Teresa

  12. Matt says:

    I DID A PROJECT ON THIS!!! it was in 6th grade i made a really taterd staircase and a mother and son on the stairs. it was pretty cool. I really like this poem. Really shows how Life isnt al that and a box of chocolates… but u must still go through with it and finish it because in the end its not really bad.

  13. sue says:

    I love this poem, my son is in prison and wants to give up on all hope. I sent it to him and he called crying to thank me ! How wonderful the internet is to give us an opportunity to find such great works. Take care all of you. Peace and Life is good

  14. BURCU says:

    THİS POEM SHOWS US THE LİFE ITSELF.LIFE ISNT EASY BUT WHEN MY MOTHER IS MY NEAR EVERYHING IS PERFECT SHE IS MY WHOLE LIFE AND SHE LOVES ME A LOT LIKE THE WOMAN WHO LOVE AND CARE HER SON

  15. Shenna says:

    This poem is what ever Mother wants for their son.
    Life isn’t a rose bed.It is up to you. Made all your dreams come true.Things will get you down. But get back up and do sometime about it.

  16. Angela says:

    Someone asked about the crystal stairs. They represent the good life. Crystal is expensive, shiney, pretty and smooth. The hard stairs with bare boards, tacks and darkness represents the harder life. Symbolism I guess….don’t quote my literary terms!

  17. Meagan says:

    woah! that girl Meagan (comment #51) spells her name the same as mine! anyway, I also was reading this for English as part of my assignment for DSTPs. quite good.

  18. channel says:

    great poem!

  19. Nare says:

    I liked this poem, but I dont understand what the speaker meant when she said that her life has not been a “crystal stair”…can somebody please tell me..thanks

  20. Meagan says:

    WE had a guest speaker in our English Class and she had us do an essay around one of the questions about this Poem. After reading the poem, i immediately fell in love with it. I just wish that all mothers should care for thier children as this woman cares so much for her son. I LOVE IT!!!!!!

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