Jazz poet Langston Hughes’ own Google doodle

I had never heard of Langston Hughes before today, and have no reserve in admitting so. Someone at Google fixed this lack of knowledge, by choosing the jazz poet, novelist, playwright, all-round artist and activist for today’s doodle – over Clark Gable, equally born on a 1st February, if only a year after Hughes.


Ms. Katy Wu designed the doodle and it is archived here.

After watching the little animation put together by the Google folks, I read some of his poem at poets.org, where Langston is dedicated a page and 13 poems. Here is Dream Variations:

To fling my arms wide
In some place of the sun,
To whirl and to dance
Till the white day is done.
Then rest at cool evening
Beneath a tall tree
While night comes on gently,
Dark like me—
That is my dream!

To fling my arms wide
In the face of the sun,
Dance! Whirl! Whirl!
Till the quick day is done.
Rest at pale evening . . .
A tall, slim tree . . .
Night coming tenderly
Black like me.

Langston seems to me, from the little I know about his poetry, to be fully anchored in America. This is not anodyne, for a number of his works (as far as I can find on the Internet and from the Wikipedia page and other online resources such as here) crudely and pointedly portraits the racist America, its dream lost for the many, against the riches of the few.

While this is very contemporary, it is also perhaps a reminder of how, no matter if many of us believe that we always have a choice, that freedom of choice is real, not all choices are accessible to all.

I will surely put my hands on his Collected Poems next time I order something online.