Langston Hughes photographed in Harlem by Robery W. Kelley/LIFE

Langston Hughes photographed in Harlem by Robery W. Kelley/LIFE

S+ Stimulant: Langston Hughes- Page for English B

 

The instructor said,

Go home and write a page tonight.

And let that page come out of you—

Then, it will be true.

 

I wonder if it’s that simple?

I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem.

I went to school there, then Durham,

then here to this college on the hill above Harlem.

I am the only colored student in my class.

The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem,

through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas,

Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y, the Harlem Branch Y,

where I take the elevator up to my room, sit down, and write this page:

It’s not easy to know what is true for you or me at twenty-two, my age.

But I guess I’m what I feel and see and hear,

Harlem, I hear you:

hear you, hear me—we two—you, me, talk on this page.

(I hear New York, too.) Me—who?

Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.

I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.

I like a pipe for a Christmas present, or records—Bessie, bop, or Bach.

I guess being colored doesn’t make me not like the same things other folks like who are other races.

So will my page be colored that I write?

Being me, it will not be white.

But it will be a part of you, instructor.

You are white— yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.

That’s American.

Sometimes perhaps you don’t want to be a part of me.

Nor do I often want to be a part of you.

But we are, that’s true!

As I learn from you, I guess you learn from me— although you’re older—and white— and somewhat more free.

This is my page for English B.

 

Seymour says:

Go home and write a page tonight.

And let that page come out of you—

Then, it will be true.

 

 

Published: June 25th, 2013

Previous in this series:

AMIT GREENBERG: Arcadian Rythm

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