Children, I come back today
To tell you a story of the long dark way
That I had to climb, that I had to know
In order that the race might live and grow.
Look at my face — dark as the night —
Yet shining like the sun with love’s true light.
I am the dark girl who crossed the red sea
Carrying in my body the seed of the free.
I am the woman who worked in the field
Bringing the cotton and the corn to yield.
I am the one who labored as a slave,
Beaten and mistreated for the work that I gave —
Children sold away from me, I’m husband sold, too.
No safety , no love, no respect was I due.

Three hundred years in the deepest South:
But God put a song and a prayer in my mouth .
God put a dream like steel in my soul.
Now, through my children, I’m reaching the goal.

Now, through my children, young and free,
I realized the blessing deed to me.
I couldn’t read then. I couldn’t write.
I had nothing, back there in the night.
Sometimes, the valley was filled with tears,
But I kept trudging on through the lonely years.
Sometimes, the road was hot with the sun,
But I had to keep on till my work was done:
I had to keep on! No stopping for me —
I was the seed of the coming Free.
I nourished the dream that nothing could smother
Deep in my breast — the Negro mother.
I had only hope then , but now through you,
Dark ones of today, my dreams must come true:
All you dark children in the world out there,
Remember my sweat, my pain, my despair.
Remember my years, heavy with sorrow —
And make of those years a torch for tomorrow.
Make of my pass a road to the light
Out of the darkness, the ignorance, the night.
Lift high my banner out of the dust.
Stand like free men supporting my trust.
Believe in the right, let none push you back.
Remember the whip and the slaver’s track.
Remember how the strong in struggle and strife
Still bar you the way, and deny you life —
But march ever forward, breaking down bars.
Look ever upward at the sun and the stars.
Oh, my dark children, may my dreams and my prayers
Impel you forever up the great stairs —
For I will be with you till no white brother
Dares keep down the children of the Negro Mother.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Langston Hughes's poem The Negro Mother

71 Comments

  1. Paul says:

    These poems speak to me; I must have been African in another life because I am moved by LH’s words like no-others…

  2. stephanie says:

    this poem was read at my great-grandmother’s funeral, she lived 2 be 97 years old…she is THE NEGRO MOTHER. i love this poem

  3. Ray G says:

    this is a good poem because it really reaches out an touches many diffrent African Americans because of the lifestyle that put up with back in his time they had to put up with discrimanation racism hatred and other complacations.

  4. Vivian Filer says:

    I have been doing this poem for many years as a part of my storytelling repertoire. It says so much that all of my audiences embrace it.

  5. cora says:

    thanks for that lovely poem

  6. Ankit Tejpal says:

    This poem holds the strength to transform perspectives and yet provide a song of hope. It is a commendable piece of literature.

  7. Twinkie says:

    Look yall i wuz feelin this poem and I really enjoyed it alot most of langston Hughes poems are hot and I will continue reading them. I really enjoyed The Negro Mother

  8. Alyssa says:

    I am not a negro but that was a really great poem that probably touched a lot of peoples heart. . . whit and black.

  9. Dayo Siyanbade says:

    My instuctor gave me an assignment about “The Negro Mother” This poem is one of the best poem ever. It is very deep. This poem reminds me of what my mother use to tell me when I was little.

  10. Jameson Keenan says:

    William Styron, whose Holocaust novel Sophie’s Choice became a film and an opera, has died, aged 81…

  11. 赵一泠 says:

    i am touched by this poem,really.touched by the great mother love.i think all the human beings should remember the history of Negro, and together hold a better tomorrow

Leave a Reply to cora Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.

Do you have any comments, criticism, paraphrasis or analysis of this poem that you feel would assist other visitors in understanding the meaning or the theme of this poem by Langston Hughes better? If accepted, your analysis will be added to this page of American Poems. Together we can build a wealth of information, but it will take some discipline and determination.