Famous Family Poem

Langston Hughes was a prominent writer during the Harlem Renaissance. In this poem, a mother uses the metaphor of life being like a staircase to give advice to her son. While there are difficult times, you must keep moving like you would while walking up a staircase.

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I was not a very good student when I was in school. I did the minimal amount of work required, retained little and barely paid attention. In 1965, my 8th grade English teacher read MOTHER TO...

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Famous Poem

Mother To Son

Langston Hughes By more Langston Hughes

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.


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Has this poem touched you? Share your story!
  • David G. Moore by David G. Moore, Dunn , NC
  • 4 years ago

This poem is a classic because it is timeless. The lesson taught in the poem and caught by the minds who receive it is the kind of power that changes persons in character and resolve. It is a powerful testimony to never give in to hardships and trials. I hope this poem is sown in the wind for all generations to come.

  • Luis L Lubisi by Luis L Lubisi, South africa, Pretoria
  • 6 years ago

Wow, that was awesome! One of the best poem I have ever read this year...

  • Anuradha by Anuradha
  • 6 years ago

Parents adore their sons. They write about their sons with love and care. This poet did the same.

  • Jim S by Jim S
  • 7 years ago

I was not a very good student when I was in school. I did the minimal amount of work required, retained little and barely paid attention. In 1965, my 8th grade English teacher read MOTHER TO SON to our class. We spent a few days talking about the meaning and message and read each sentence separately and together. To this day, I can still see and hear Mr. Reading standing in front of the class reciting this poem with so much emotion and feeling that it grabbed me, and 50+ years later I can still recite every word with the same feeling and enthusiasm as that day I first heard it. This poem and this image from an 8th grade teacher is still engrained in my memory - and in my life. I have repeated it multiple times to many people, and I've used the lesson repeatedly when the road of life has had a few bumps in it. I wish I could thank Langston Hughes and Mr. Ral Reading for creating and sharing this great piece of work with me. I will never forget you both.

  • Nancy Moore by Nancy Moore
  • 4 years ago

What a powerful story of a life-changing experience! This demonstrates the effect that our words, actions, and attitude have on others. It's also an encouragement and inspiration to those of us who are teachers to continue caring and giving our best. This is my 34th year of teaching. As we progress in our careers, in any profession, we may not always have that same motivation and energy that we once had. We need to find ways to renew that for our enjoyment and the benefit of those we are serving. This story was a great contribution. Thanks!

  • Judith J Bentley by Judith J Bentley
  • 5 years ago

What a wonderful testament to the power of poetry and to the giftedness of a special teacher who conveyed the human experience in the poem to his students. As a poet myself and a former teacher, this has always been one of my favorite poems too. Thank you for sharing.

  • Dl by Dl
  • 8 years ago

I was about to cash in my chips. I was sick and tired of being tired. Of no appreciation or respect for all I did, am doing and trying to do for family, friends, God, and the church. I served my time and paid my dues. The world is full of news of children dying because of selfish immature parents and thugs, social injustice and endless political indifference. Of moral and spiritual decay. I fell into a downward spiral and was about to hit bottom. Then God said not yet. Out of nowhere someone sent me this poem. I found my way to a place where I could recoup sit and think things over.
I'm back. The pity party is over. Mamma and grandmamma went thru too much and sacrificed more than I will ever be able to fathom or endure. Langston nailed it with his pen. We sons can never give up if we realize and cherish the love and tears that got us here.
I love you mamma.

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