Pennsylvania Station

Poem for a Tuesday — “Pennsylvania Station” by Langston Hughes

The Pennsylvania Station in New York
Is like some vast basilica of old
That towers above the terror of the dark
As bulwark and protection to the soul.
Now people who are hurrying alone
And those who come in crowds from far away
Pass through this great concourse of steel and stone
To trains, or else from trains out into day.
And as in great basilicas of old
The search was ever for a dream of God,
So here the search is still within each soul
Some seed to find to root in earthly sod,
Some seed to find that sprouts a holy tree
To glorify the earth—and you—and me.

In Songs for the Open Road, Mineola: Dover Publications, 1999, p. 38.


Langston Hughes was an innovator of jazz poetry and one of the foremost poets of the Harlem Rennaissance. He was a descendant of the elite, politically active Langston family, free people of color who worked for the abolitionist cause and helped lead the Ohio Anti-Slavery Society in 1858. Hughes wrote from an early age, moving to New York City as a teen to attend Columbia University. In addition to poetry, Hughes wrote plays, short stories, essays, and non-fiction. From 1942 to 1962, he wrote an in-depth weekly column in a leading black newspaper, The Chicago Defender. In 1960, the NAACP presented Hughes with the Spingarn Medal for distinguished achievements by an African American. In 2002, his image was added to The United States Postal Service’s Black Heritage series of postage stamps.


A southward view of the concourse and its famous clock as seen on April 24, 1962. Cervin Robinson photo. Accessed online at https://www.american-rails.com/pnstn.html