Monday, February 2, 2009

Langston Hughes and Galway Kinnell

Yesterday was the birthdays of two formidable poets of the 20th century: Langston Hughes and Galway Kinnell. In honor of their work, here are a couple of poems.

Passing Love

Because you are to me a song
I must not sing you over-long.

Because you are to me a prayer
I cannot say you everywhere.

Because you are to me a rose-
You will not stay when summer goes.
Langston Hughes

Cemetery Angels

On these cold days,
they stand over
our dead, who will
erupt into flower as soon
as memory and human shape
rot out of them, each bent
forward and with wings
partly opened as though
warming itself at a fire.
Galway Kinnell

Here's a beautiful impressionistic rendering of Langston Hughes's seminal poem, "Weary Blues."

Galway Kinnell follows, reading his poem "Rapture" from Imperfect Thirst:



Charles Gramlich said...

I've read a fair amount of Hughes but I really need to get a collection of his work to keep on my shelves. Good stuff.

Greg said...

Hughes is one of my favorite poets. "The Panther & the Lash" is an incredible collection. I hate to say it, but I don't think I've ever heard of Galway Kinnell before.

Anonymous said...

Hi Don:

I am woefully ignorant as concerns Langston Hughes. I read a collection of his work many years ago. However, the poem you have featured is incredibly striking & very beautiful. I will look into "The Panther & The Lash".


Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Charles: Hughes is pretty amazing and so much of his work is in the short form, which is especially appreciated around here ... good stuff, indeed.

Greg, Panther and the Lash is, as you say, a very powerful collection. Here's a link to Kinnell's new and selected poems at Google books, with a substantive "preview." Maybe so more Kinnell in another post.

Jeffrey, Panther and the Lash is a solid recommendation. Hope you enjoy it.