Saturday, May 12, 2012

"Mother To Son" Poem by Langston Hughes (Examples With Words)

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides the text and four video collage/recitations of Langston Hughes' poem "Mother To Son". "Mother To Son" is also known as "Life For Me Ain't Been No Crystal Stair". Langston Hughes (February 1, 1902 – May 22, 1967) was an African American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist.

The content of this post is presented for historical, educational, and aesthetic purposes. The copyrights remain with their owners.

My thanks to Langston Hughes for writing this poem. My thanks to the videographers, artists, spoken word artists, and musicians whose work is showcased in these featured videos.


(Langston Hughes)

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'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.


Click for information about Langston Hughes.

(These videos are posted in no particular order.)

Video #1: Mother to Son Tone Poem

Uploaded by Aocochlain on Feb 24, 2009

This was a music technology project, based on a poem by Langston Hughes.
Music and film created by Aonghus O Cochlain.
Poem reading by Roberta Enschede.

Video #2: Mother to Son by Langston Hughes: A Poetic Appreciation

Uploaded by honeytapia on Jun 20, 2010

I chose this poem for my English Comp. assignment, without realizing Fathers Day would be the day that I published it for my instructor to view. This poem touched me in a big way, causing me to think of my own son. My son is a father himself now and on this father's day I would like to dedicate this compilation to him. Sam Nimmo, you are one of the best father's I have every known. I love you with all my heart and am proud of you in ways I could never describe. Happy Fathers Day, son. Keep on, keeping on! Love, Mom

Video #3: Mother to Son

Uploaded by GoldenHorn on Jun 13, 2007

[Music: "Naima" by John Coltrane]

Video #4: Mother to Son - Langston Hughes

Uploaded by Jalmgrener on Nov 19, 2009

Here is a narrated poem with music.

In response to a comment in this video's viewer comment thread, the video uploader indicated that "the music was created by myself using a program called Logic Pro".

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.


  1. I wrote the following two comments in response to a viewer of the video collage given above as "Video #4". (That viewer took exception to the fact that the images in that collage weren't of Black people.)

    "As an African American mother, while I appreciate the tributes to Black women that are shown in a number of YouTube videos of this poem, I also recognize that mothers of other races can also truthfully say that "life for me ain't been no crystal stair.". That said, I also know that often race negatively impacts economic class in the USA & elsewhere.

    I like this creative video & included it on my blog. Google Pancocojams Videos Collage - "Mother To Son" by Langston Hughes.


    azizip171 [5/12/2012]


    And yes, I am aware that the Langston Hughes who wrote this poem was African American. I believe he would have appreciated this video interpretation of his poem, and most of the YouTube video interpretations of this poem-and other poems that he wrote.

    azizip171 [5/12/2012]

  2. But, can you give what is it about the real summary and some examples. That would be really helpfull.

    1. Hello Anonymous,

      "Life for me ain't been no crystal stairs" means that she hasn't led a life of luxury. "Crystal stairs" evoke an image of a palace or mansion with marble stairs.

      I hope that explanation helps.