The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes

The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes

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by Langston Hughes
     
 

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"The ultimate book for both the dabbler and serious scholar—. [Hughes] is sumptuous and sharp, playful and sparse, grounded in an earthy music—. This book is a glorious revelation."—Boston Globe

Spanning five decades and comprising 868 poems (nearly 300 of which have never before appeared in book form), this magnificent volume is the

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Overview

"The ultimate book for both the dabbler and serious scholar—. [Hughes] is sumptuous and sharp, playful and sparse, grounded in an earthy music—. This book is a glorious revelation."—Boston Globe

Spanning five decades and comprising 868 poems (nearly 300 of which have never before appeared in book form), this magnificent volume is the definitive sampling of a writer who has been called the poet laureate of African America—and perhaps our greatest popular poet since Walt Whitman.  Here, for the first time, are all the poems that Langston Hughes published during his lifetime, arranged in the general order in which he wrote them and annotated by Arnold Rampersad and David Roessel.

Alongside such famous works as "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" and Montage of a Dream Deferred, The Collected Poems includes the author's lesser-known verse for children; topical poems distributed through the Associated Negro Press; and poems such as "Goodbye Christ" that were once suppressed.  Lyrical and pungent, passionate and polemical, the result is a treasure of a book, the essential collection of a poet whose words have entered our common language.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
At last Hughes has gotten his first collected edition; it is overdue. The editors have attempted to collect every poem (860 in all) published by the writer in his lifetime, and have also provided a brief but informative introduction, a detailed chronology and extensive textual notes that include the original date and place of publication for each poem. In fact, this edition corrects the many errors and omissions of the standard Hughes bibliography, and the editors plan to update the text as more unpublished work surfaces. Although Hughes is best known for his poems celebrating African African life, he was also a passionately political poet who paid dearly for his communist affiliations and radical views. The chronological arrangement of the poems allows the reader to follow the course of Hughes's career-long political engagement, though probably Hughes will mainly be read for the clarity of his language, his wise humor and his insight into the human condition. BOMC selection. (Nov.)
Library Journal
Coedited by Hughes biographer Rampersad (Vol. 1, LJ 8/86; Vol. 2, LJ 9/15/88), this is the most complete collection of Hughes's poems to date. Known for a few brilliant pieces, Hughes wrote many others-860 are here, and this after unpublished work and juvenalia were excluded. Quite a few are songs or what the editors appropriately term "doggerel." Works are in chronological order, except for two improtant books printed intact: Montage of a Dream Deferred and Ask you Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz. A short preface, a time line of Hughes' life, and historical endnotes are also included. The time line is as moving as any of Hughes's poems; together, they document an intensely felt life of hardship and perseverance. Persecuted for his leftist politics as well as his skin color, Hughes just kept on writing. Beyond their relative merits-their rhymes, song rhythms, and sometimes dogmatic approach will not appeal to all-these poems are full of beauty, qualified joy, and sharp illustrations of African American life in our century. For every collection.-Ellen Kaufman, Dewey Ballantine Law Lib., New York

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679764083
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/28/1995
Series:
Vintage Classics Series
Edition description:
1st Vintage classics ed
Pages:
736
Sales rank:
79,047
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

Juke Box Love Song

I could take the Harlem night and wrap around you,
Take the neon lights and make a crown,
Take the Lenox Avenue busses,
Taxis, subways,
And for your love song tone their rumble down.
Take Harlem's heartbeat,
Make a drumbeat,
Put it on a record, let it whirl,
And while we listen to it play,
Dance with you till day—
Dance with you, my sweet brown Harlem girl.

Meet the Author

Langston Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri, in 1902.  After graduation from high school, he spent a year in Mexico with his father, then a year studying at Columbia University.  His first poem in a nationally known magazine was "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," which appeared in Crisis in 1921.  In 1925, he was awarded the First Prize for Poetry of the magazine Opportunity, the winning poem being "The Weary Blues," which gave its title to his first book of poems, published in 1926.  As a result of his poetry, Mr. Hughes received a scholarship at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, where he won his B.A. in 1929.  In 1943, he was awarded an honorary Litt.D. by his alma mater; he has also been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship (1935), a Rosenwald Fellowship (1940), and an American Academy of Arts and Letters Grant (1947).  From 1926 until his death in 1967, Langston Hughes devoted his time to writing and lecturing.  He wrote poetry, short stories, autobiography, song lyrics, essays, humor, and plays.  A cross section of his work was published in 1958 as The Langston Hughes Reader.

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