Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Reverie for a Summer Day • Langston Hughes, Eddie Harris, Richie Parker, my Glenville neighborhood

Mother to Son

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’ve been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s,
And turnin’ corners,
And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where they 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.

  Langston Hughes

I received a video from an old friend this morning that is a tribute to the power of the human spirit. I didn’t know it at the time I started watching, but I had seen the last minute of it when it was broadcast on television.[1]  The title is misleading, but spending eight minutes of your life to watch it will captivate you as well as reveal what made me [a] retrieve and re-read this Langston Hughes poem[2], and [b] follow it by the Charles Stepney/Eddie Harris classic, “Theme in Search of a Movie”, introduced to me by my older brother Steve in Glenville days of yore.

Richie Parker:

Eddie Harris:

[2] Langston Hughes is one of my favorite poets. Part of the reason is encapsulated here, heightened by his Cleveland connections:

Langston Hughes 1902-1967
He was the first black American to earn his living solely from his writing and public lectures. Part of the reason he was able to do this was the phenomenal acceptance and love he received from average black people. … ‘Langston Hughes stands at the apex of literary relevance among Black people. …[H]e recognized that “we possess within ourselves a great reservoir of physical and spiritual strength,” and because he used his artistry to reflect this back to the people. He used his poetry and prose to illustrate that “there is no lack within the Negro people of beauty, strength and power,' and he chose to do so on their own level, on their own terms.””

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