Harlem Sweeties

By Langston Hughes 1902–1967 Langston Hughes
Have you dug the spill   
Of Sugar Hill?
Cast your gims
On this sepia thrill:   
Brown sugar lassie,   
Caramel treat,   
Honey-gold baby   
Sweet enough to eat.   
Peach-skinned girlie,   
Coffee and cream,   
Chocolate darling   
Out of a dream.   
Walnut tinted
Or cocoa brown,   
Pride of the town.   
Rich cream-colored   
To plum-tinted black,   
Feminine sweetness   
In Harlem’s no lack.   
Glow of the quince   
To blush of the rose.   
Persimmon bronze   
To cinnamon toes.   
Blackberry cordial,   
Virginia Dare wine—
All those sweet colors   
Flavor Harlem of mine!   
Walnut or cocoa,   
Let me repeat:
Caramel, brown sugar,   
A chocolate treat.   
Molasses taffy,
Coffee and cream,   
Licorice, clove, cinnamon   
To a honey-brown dream.   
Ginger, wine-gold,   
Persimmon, blackberry,
All through the spectrum
Harlem girls vary—
So if you want to know beauty’s   
Rainbow-sweet thrill,
Stroll down luscious,
Delicious, fine Sugar Hill.

Langston Hughes, “Harlem Sweeties” from Collected Poems. Copyright © 1994 by The Estate of Langston Hughes. Reprinted with the permission of Harold Ober Associates Incorporated.

Source: Collected Poems (Vintage Books, 1994)

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Poet Langston Hughes 1902–1967

SCHOOL / PERIOD Harlem Renaissance

Subjects Relationships, Cities & Urban Life, Love, Social Commentaries, Race & Ethnicity, Infatuation & Crushes

Poetic Terms Syllabic, Rhymed Stanza

 Langston  Hughes


Langston Hughes was first recognized as an important literary figure during the 1920s, a period known as the "Harlem Renaissance" because of the number of emerging black writers. Du Bose Heyward wrote in the New York Herald Tribune in 1926: "Langston Hughes, although only twenty-four years old, is already conspicuous in the group of Negro intellectuals who are dignifying Harlem with a genuine art life. . . . It is, however, as . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Cities & Urban Life, Love, Social Commentaries, Race & Ethnicity, Infatuation & Crushes

SCHOOL / PERIOD Harlem Renaissance

Poetic Terms Syllabic, Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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