This is one of my favorite poems by Langston Hughes, Mother to Son. When one of my daughters was young, she changed it to Daughter to Mother and recited it to me at a time when my life seemed really as if it had been no crystal stair. Quite a few years and experiences have passed under the bridge since then. The poem is perfect as is, but as life’s struggles add layers of richness to one’s wisdom, I think that I would add onto this poem some kind of little postscript to thank God for every one of those difficulties: the bare places, the splinters and the places where the boards had been torn up. Each one of them was leading me on to the next landing, the next summit where there would be a new panorama view on life and truth. Thank you, Lord. Life did not seem like a crystal stair to me at times, but although it was in disguise, it truly was a crystal stair leading to you. That’s what life is all about! Something to remember when you’re going through tough times.
Mother to Son
BY LANGSTON HUGHES
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.
Langston Hughes, “Mother to Son” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 1994 by The Estate of Langston Hughes.