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On Nothingness and Poems
Transcript of On Nothingness and Poems
It is found in the lack of possessions and in the experience of walking on broken staircases..... Mother To Son
- Langston Hughes, 1922 Well, son, I’ll tell you:
Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it,
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. With coarse and simple words, a mother explains to her son the nuggets of wisdom she had found in her way though life. In this poem, there are no rhyme, no alliteration. There are no allusions, nor synecdoches. There is simply an overarching metaphor that life is a broken staircase. In a matter-of-fact tone, this poem explains that though life may have splinters and tacks, one must keep on going on. The simple language and slangs used this poem seem to indicate that the mother is from a simple, perhaps poor background. Life has been hard on this mother, and most of her life was spent overcoming obstacles and walking around in the dark with little possessions. What does she have left? A son who she loves, and an abundance of experience and wisdom which she hopes to impart to her son. Through this poem, all the unconditional love and unadulterated concern of a mother is painted. The pure essence of motherhood is captured within this poem. "Look," the mother told her son, "my life is this broken staircase, and I have nothing but myself. Yet I am not a broken shell, so, my son, listen to my words and learn." And so through this poem, a mother with no possessions pass on invaluable experiences to her son. in our experiences..... and in life... Life ain't been no crystal stairs It's had tacks in it, and splinters, I began a poem by writing its end, Like gunpowder exploding
Before the touch-paper is lit, I finished that poem, Before I’d started it ... I BEGAN A P O E M B Y W R I T I N G ITS END, L I K E G U N O P W D E R E X P L O D I N G BEFORE THE TOUCH-PAPER I S L I T , I FINISHED THAT POEM, B E | F O R E I ' D S T A R T E D T I . . . .