It was a long time ago
My dream of our weary city
Subdued and time-lost
Any place is dreary
And your soul
Will be lost
The stars went out and so did the moon
Made long ago
I carried my sorrow songs
Song is a strong thing
Something strong to put my hands on
I am the American heartbreak
Singing sorrow songs on the banks of a mighty river
* * * * *
This is a cento poem using lines from various Langston Hughes poems that I found in his Selected Poems collection. It was written in response to the directed cento poem prompt at We Write Poems.
Funny…I reached the last pair of lines and thought: sounds like Langston Hughes and with good reason! I like very much the poem you created using his lines. Emotionally powerful.
great choice for a poet. loved the poem.
Full of emotion and so well put together, Richard.
Richard, you chose strong lines and put them together to make a strong poem!
(a bad time for people on rivers)
I like to read Langston Huges as well. There is sadness in your poem, deep and welling. That doesn’t surprise me as Hughes was a man of deep caring as are you. The lines you put together mark a very real truth, and thus carry power and an awareness that many miss. Thank you Richard,
Margo, thank you. I hope Mr. Hughes would be pleased with this tribute.
Pamela, thank you. I struggled with the construction of this one.
Mary, thanks. He’s such a wonderful poet. I like the strength and apparent simplicity of his lines.
Briarcat, yes, cities and rivers close together. It can be great, but it can also be bad.
Elizabeth, thank you as always for the kind and thoughtful comments. I’m glad that you saw the sadness as coming from a place of caring. Thanks.
This sent shivers down my spine. So sad. Such well-chosen lines.
I haven’t heard of that poet. You make me want to read him.
Most everyone has chosen such wonderful writers. I feel a bit foolish for my choice. Nevertheless, I enjoyed your stitching. The bookends of a weary city and American heartbreak worked very well to thread the whole thing together. Nicely done.
I have read most of Langston Hughes compendium of work and I like your choice for the Cento. He is an American treasure. I particularly liked your use of the line from “Aunt Sue’s Stories” for your close.
Richard, sorry, I thought I had already left a comment here. Langston Hughes is one of my faves, the Harlem Renaissance is part of my upbringing, thanks to my jazz-singing mom and all her friends. This was a beautiful, reverent handling of Mr. Hughes’ work. Very rewarding, and I suggest to all that they read it aloud. Amy
A take on the work of the poet:
Viv, thank you. His “sorrow songs” really spoke to me.
Tilly, Langston Hughes is often referred to as the Poet Laureate of the Harlem Renaissance. He is a great American poet, and I do encourage you to find some of his work. Thanks for stopping by.
Yousei, thank you for your thoughtful comments. I wasn’t sure how well the weary city and the American heartbreak would connect.
Donald, thank you. I agree completely; he is an American treasure. Thanks for your kind words.
Amy, you might have left a comment on the mirror site (I can’t tell now because Blogger is currently down and has been for hours). Langston Hughes is one of my favorites and has been for a long time. I share a lot of his poems with my students. I had to read this aloud in order to construct it. Finding the right order for the lines and the stanzas I constructed was hard; reading it aloud was the only way I could tell if it worked or not. As always, thank you for your kind and thoughtful comments.
Langston Hughes was one of the first reasons I began to write and dig poetry. Him, and Maya Angelou, too.
And you’ve done his lines justice, weaving out of them a certain sorrow of your own. Which is natural, considering it’s Langston Hughes.
Well done, my friend.
Nicole, thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful comments. Glad you think I did his lines justice; he is an amazing poet. Like, you, he is a big reason that I’m into poetry.
Langston Hughes, what a wonderful choice for a source! Off many beaten paths. But then my education is rather shy, nothing formal this way. Good fortune that you have the background experience you do. Well used here, and a fine expression you’ve given breath.
And past the obvious “sadness”, still this poem demonstrates how even that can produce and render strength (even joy) into the face of adversity. This poem takes flight into better skies (or mighty river) as presented here. Beautifully collected and gathered. Thanks much for sharing this poem.
Neil, thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful comments. Langston Hughes has long (if not always) been one of my favorite poets, so that was an easy choice for me. I hope I did him proud. He looked honestly at the things that troubled him, so sadness surfaced, but he was also proud of who he was and celebrated that too. I appreciate what you said about sadness and strength.