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An Archive for Virtual Harlem

Jessica Johnston, Author

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Writer Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes (1902-1967) - poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist. Hughes is known as one of the central figures of the Harlem Renaissance. Although Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri, he ended up spending most of his childhood living with his grandmother in Lawrence, Kansas after his parents divorced. During the 1920s, Hughes first traveled to West Africa and Europe as a crewman on the S.S. Malone. He then spent time in Paris and England. When he returned to the U.S., Hughes lived in Washington D.C. while working and publishing poetry on the side. After receiving his bachelor's degree from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, Hughes moved to Harlem, where he lived the rest of his life.

Langston Hughes was easily the most prolific and most influential writer of the Harlem Renaissance. In the forty-odd years between his first book in 1926 and his death in 1967, he devoted his life to writing and lecturing. He wrote sixteen books of poems, two novels, three collections of short stories, four volumes of "editorial" and "documentary" fiction, twenty plays, children's poetry, musicals and operas, three autobiographies, a dozen radio and television scripts and dozens of magazine articles. In addition, he edited seven anthologies. Hughes was one of the few prominent black writers to champion racial consciousness as a source of inspiration for black artists and he was one of the earliest innovators of the literary art form called jazz poetry (known to have jazz-like rhythm or the feel of improvisation).

In Time of Silver Rain

In time of silver rain
The earth puts forth new life again,
Green grasses grow
And flowers lift their heads,
And over all the plain
The wonder spreads

Of Life,
Of Life,
Of life!

In time of silver rain
The butterflies lift silken wings
To catch a rainbow cry,
And trees put forth new leaves to sing
In joy beneath the sky
As down the roadway
Passing boys and girls
Go singing, too,

In time of silver rain
When spring
And life
Are new.

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