I Thought it was Tangiers I Wanted


I know now
That Notre Dame is in Paris.
And the Seine is more to me now
Than a wriggling line on a map
Or a name in travel stories.

I know now
There is a Crystal Palace in Antwerp
Where a hundred women sell their naked bodies,
And the night-lovers of sailors
Wait for men on docks in Genoa.
I know now
That a great golden moon
Like a picture-book moon
Really rises behind palm groves
In Africa,
And tom-toms do beat
In village squares under the mango trees.
I know now
That Venice is a church dome
And a net-work of canals,
Tangiers a whiteness under sun.

I thought
It was Tangiers I wanted,
Or the gargoyles of Notre Dame,
Or the Crystal Palace in Antwerp,
Or the golden palm-grove moon in Africa,
Or a church dome and a net-work of canals.

Happiness lies nowhere,
Some old fool said,
If not within oneself.

It’s a sure thing
Notre Dame is in Paris,–
But I thought it was Tangiers I wanted.


Langston Hughes, ''I Thought it was Tangiers I Wanted''
Photograph: Gordon-Parks, Langston Hughes in 1941.

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