• Tue. Sep 26th, 2023

Langston Hughes – Little Old Letter and the Mighty Pen


The poem for today’s Black History Month Langston Hughes celebration is “Little Old Letter.” This poem reminds us that the pen is mightier than the sword.

African American Woman reading a letter and looking upset and the words "Black History Month - Langston Hughes - Little Old Letter"

During February each year, people all across the United States celebrate Black History Month. Things are no different here at Janeane’s World. This month I am copying an idea I got from my friend Pammy Pam over at An Unconventional Librarian and I am devoting the entire month to the poems of my favorite author and poet, Langston Hughes. I will share a poem a day for the entire month. Today the poem of choice is “Little Old Letter.”

You may ask what place does poetry or celebrations of Black History month have in this blog that was created to encourage, inspire and motivate women to be their best at work and home. I would answer that I am an African-American woman so black history is my history and when you understand and appreciate it, you come closer to understanding and appreciating me. I would also answer that poetry, like all forms of artistic expression fuels our passions, gives us hope makes us think, and makes our lives richer and better.

Little Old Letter

It was yesterday morning
I looked in my box for mail.
The letter that I found there
Made me turn right pale.

Just a little old letter,
Wasn’t even one page long-
But it made me wish
I was in my grave and gone.

I turned it over,
Not a word writ on the back.
I never felt so lonesome
Since I was born black.

Just a pencil and paper,
You don’t need no gun nor knife-
A little old letter
Can take a person’s life.

This poem has so many powerful messages in it. There is of course, the idea that the pen is mightier than the sword. Many people have experienced receiving a letter in the mail that contained devastating news. Those letters that arrive when no one is expecting them that have such deep and profound messages that take one’s breath away are unpleasant indeed. At the same time, there is always cause for help, because good news, joyous news often arrives in the same fashion.

Perhaps the thing to do when you get a letter full of bad news is to sit down and write yourself a letter. Write yourself a letter about what you would like to happen. What your dream letter would say. Then, keep that letter close by so that you can pull it out and read good, inspiring, and motivational words whenever you need them.

Janeane Davis author bio