“Cross” – by Langston Hughes

By Langston Hughes

My old man’s a white old man
And my old mother’s black.
If ever I cursed my white old man
I take my curses back.

If ever I cursed my black old mother
And wished she were in hell,
I’m sorry for that evil wish
And now I wish her well.

My old man died in a fine big house.
My ma died in a shack.
I wonder where I’m gonna die,
Being neither white nor black?

I like the stark simplicity of the poem about the inner turmoil experienced by a child of the mixed parentage,of a white father and a black mother.Notice the several connotations of the word “cross” :

1)The speaker is a cross born of a white father and black mother,a mulatto
2)The speaker is cross with his fate which makes him exposed to the vagaries of luck,being born of a father who will die in a fine big house and a mother who will die in a shack,his own future uncertain in the knowledge of where he will die.
3) The speaker carries with him the burden (cross) of a mixed parentage all his life, like Jesus Christ
4) As a cross he does not know where he belongs.Neither is he well off like his father who died in a fine big house nor is poor like his mother who was destined to die in a shack.