Harlem Night Song

Harlem Night Song
Langston Hughes

Come,
Let us roam the night together
Singing.

I love you.

Across
The Harlem roof-tops
Moon is shining.
Night sky is blue.
Stars are great drops
Of golden dew.

Down the street
A band is playing.

I love you.

Come,
Let us roam the night together
Singing.


Wikipedia has a pretty decent article on Hughes. I’m a lazy enough scholar to leave the research to that body, but wanted to add how a Chinese kid growing up in 95% white eastern Washington ever got mixed up with a dead poet from Harlem. Back in grade school, all of our reading assignments came out of readers, where some editor would choose what was the best literature for us strictly based on our age. My secret: bring the book home that first day it was issued, and read it. Then, go to the university library, find out where the other readers were shelved, and read those too. So there’s a million short stories and excerpts stuck in my head — every year it seemed like Emily Dickinson’s angle-worm poem showed up (I never thought it was great). I mostly skipped the poetry section (yep, there she is again, posthumously famous, yes yes yes) until fifth grade, when for some reason Hughes’ Dreams and e.e. cummings’ in Just-spring made it into our readers. I think the editor used Dreams to illustrate simile and metaphor, and in Just-spring as something of a freakshow — lookit how he bends the rules and makes up words, what’s up with the weird spacing and lack of capitalization?

That same year Mrs. Presnell handed down the edict that we’d spend an hour each day writing creatively in journals (I suppose it was a way to fill an hour that wasn’t as lazy as the past year, when the teacher would spend ten minutes writing all-day busywork assignments on the board, then retire to her desk). Ha! I have it! Poetry! Fewer words! Skipping lines! And the simple truth is that the fewer tools you have, the more each one must do — it’s not enough to rhyme, and my attempts at poetry fell into much of the remaining forgettable detrius of my life (I did discover just about all the words that rhyme with ‘art’).

How can you use so few words to make my soul resonate in tune with yours? I (and bettyandisbel) want to know.

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30 Responses to “Harlem Night Song”

  1. ALLI Says:

    this is one of my favorite poems because…….i don’t know but it has meaning.

  2. dearJ Says:

    That’s the great thing about poetry — sometimes it speaks to something wordless inside you, and every reaction depends on the reader.

  3. chichi Says:

    i love this poem because it shows how much u love a girl.

    • GEtPWNEDbiiTCh** Says:

      It may say that. although, there could be another interpretation, like for example, how much he loves Harlem (at night) ***

  4. cowninja Says:

    Moo cow ninja strikes agin

    MOO
    Ihate this poem

  5. Piggy Says:

    i luv this peom it’s very inspiring

  6. bugs r gross Says:

    I like this poem and oding it for an english prject

  7. dearJ Says:

    Hi TROTTERGRIFFIN,

    You’ve been warned. Keep your comments constructive (or if hateful, at least not bigoted) or they’ll be deleted. Abuse report will be sent to your ISP next time.

  8. histroy789 Says:

    i agree with whoever hahah is. [ed: That would be someone with the same e-mail address and IP address who managed to post just one minute after hahah … the Internet is a terrible thing to waste.]
    mean but blunt

  9. mega man Says:

    wtf!!!!
    you got the last part mixed up!!!!
    its the i love you part then the come part is last!!!!!!
    is im my 8th grade lit book!~!~

  10. mega man Says:

    dude you typed it wrong lol
    its the i love you part then its the come part last smarty
    its right here in my 8th grade lit book!!!!

  11. dearJ Says:

    Thanks for the alert! Fixed.

  12. jose Says:

    i love ur poem i used part of ur poem to help me get a girl that i really like and it really worked

  13. jose Says:

    this poem makes me want to eat eggz

  14. jose Says:

    yo where you at

  15. jose Says:

    what up whats happning all you hater can ge at mii

  16. varundbest Says:

    I always visit your blog and retrieve everything you post here but I never commented but today when I saw this post, I couldn’t stop myself from commenting here. Wonderful mate!

  17. Salis Says:

    Y’know, if you all really loved this poem, maybe you’d take enough time to spell out your words correctly and do an analysis worth two shits. I’m just saying, “oh ya dis iz good” isn’t anything even vaguely useful to anyone, is it?

    • ********* Says:

      oh well sorry u know theres these things called teenagers who like to have fun stupid party pooper!

  18. dearJ Says:

    I think it might be a result of reposting a poem that’s assigned in middle schools; as soon as you throw it into google, boom, there you are with a blank space to scribble on.

  19. aweso-man Says:

    dude do u guys have like no life? why would you post saying he got it wrong???? im doing homework and it helped me a great deal…..

    freakin low lifes

    • Samantha Says:

      lol ikr im doing a stupid report on lke the first 3 stanzas it has 2 be like 6 prghs long to see “how far we can extract a poem” its a really dumb assignment but i guess the poems alright

  20. Samantha Says:

    I’ have to right a report about this poem and kind of have writers block i just need an eye catcher

  21. Samantha Says:

    in case anyone is doing a project or is just curios the heme is: love is something worth celebrating…… or at least thats what my teacher said :)

  22. Quajeek99 Says:

    i can’t find when this poem was writen. its freakin annoying

  23. Emma T. Says:

    this poem is so melancholy and sweet. it’s elegant and complex. but it’s tone, it’s tone reminds me of love and reminiscing on rooftops. but only in the mere form of a memory, a highlight. it’s reflective and nostalgic and dreary and reminds me of untied shoes and forgotten thoughts, yet it’s endearing. i think that langston hughes has hidden the theme from us, because this poem is sentimental to him. i feel like i look at it and see summer and cool nights and singing. like a metaphor. this poem is a mirage

  24. lalwl Says:

    uuuuu suck

  25. .. Says:

    Just coming on here to work on analyzing this poem for English class. I don’t care why you’re here, but why would you write a comment like “lolz this poem tho!?!?!” on a piece of literature? When I’m just browsing the internet I might “talk like this omg i just”, but it’s different when you’re leaving a comment that’s supposed to be serious and about a poem. -_-

  26. awesome Says:

    i dont get it

  27. Mike Says:

    This poem. This damn poem. I remember reading it back in the eighth grade, and I still can’t forget it. Langston Hughes is a beautiful, eloquent writer. His words in this poem are so expressive and sweet, but not at all complex. The simple refrain is just gorgeous. So much has changed in my life since I first read this poem, but my interpretation, and my reaction, have not changed the slightest. Thank you for posting this. Thank your for keeping art alive. Thank you for this moment you’ve allowed me to experience.

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