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Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Langston Hughes--Two Patriotic Poems

“I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”
--James A. Baldwin
"One is astonished in the study of history at the recurrence of the idea that evil must be forgotten, distorted, skimmed over. We must not remember that Daniel Webster got drunk but only that he was a splendid constitutional lawyer. We must forget that George Washington was a slave owner . . . and simply remember the things we regard as creditable and inspiring. The difficulty, of course, with this philosophy is that history loses its value as an incentive and example; it paints perfect man and
noble nations, but it does not tell the truth."

--W.E.B. Dubois

Born on February 1, 1902, in Joplin, Missouri, Langston Hughes was a prolific writer. He wrote plays, novels, short stories, newspaper columns and essays. But, first and foremost, he was a poet, one of America's greatest. Though known for his work during the Harl
em Renaissance, Hughes writing career was quite long and spanned over a number of historical periods: the war against fascism in Spain, World War II, the civil rights movement and the black power movement of the 60’s. Though critical of the United States, Hughes nonetheless loved it dearly for its professed ideals, hopes and dreams and its possibility of making those hopes and dreams come true; and this love and belief in America came through in the following two poems: “Let America Be America Again” and “I, Too, Sing America.”

I, Too, Sing America

by Langston Hughes

I , too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I'll sit at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"
Then. Besides,
They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed.

I, too, am America.

Let America Be America Again

by Langston Hughes

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed--
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There's never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this "homeland of the free.")

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek--
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one's own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean--
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today--O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I'm the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That's made America the land it has become.
O, I'm the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home--
For I'm the one who left dark Ireland's shore,
And Poland's plain, and England's grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa's strand I came
To build a "homeland of the free."

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?
Surely not me? The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we've dreamed
And all the songs we've sung
And all the hopes we've held
And all the flags we've hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay--
Except the dream that's almost dead today.

O, let America be America again--
The land that never has been yet--
And yet must be--the land where every man is free.
The land that's mine--the poor man's, Indian's, Negro's, ME--
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose--
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,
America!

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!

10 comments:

Somebodies Friend said...

Excellent post MacDaddy,

Where can I sign up for this new America, where everyone is FREE...

Somebodies Friend said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Somebodies Friend said...

BTW - I love these poems MacDaddy. The first time I visited your blog I read "I too am America", and I have never looked back!

It is like that Poem was speaking directly to me. It really was surreal. The feelings, the emotions, the truth that comes out when reading these is incredible.

Thank You!

Kellybelle said...

I agree heartily with the Baldwin quote. It's like Chris Rock says, if you're Black, America is like the uncle who paid for college...but molested you.

Have you ever read Arnold Rampersad's bio of Ralph Ellison? I'm reading it now and learning a lot about Langston Hughes and Richard Wright. Good read.

Nicki Nicki Tembo said...

You nailed it again daddy. It made for a good am read. Not ironic that America still suffers some of the same ills, yet packaged differently, than in the past. The way the system was designed I suppose. And it seems to be working just fine.

rainywalker said...

"I am the people, humble, hungry, mean.." The people wait for a leader, but he will not come until we want him or her.

R.J. said...

Those are great poems. I really enjoyed them, MacDaddy.

Thanks also for the Bob Herbert shout out. He's the best NYT columnist no one knows about and deserves all the props he can get.

BTW, you might want to put my other blog in your sidebar.

Cali Tejano 2.0

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Thanks Daddy. Great stuff.
With such a Welsh name, how could Langston HUGHES not have been a poet?

"dimwittedness prevailing. . . " Yea, I've called it the Gumping of America for many years now.
'It's ok to be a dim witted moron. Dim witted morons are just as capable of succeeding as anyone else. Afterall folks, you're all a bunch of dim witted morons, who else would you rather be led by.'

Sadly, this Gumping is being perpetrated by those who are not dim witted morons but want Amurkkkans to remain dim witted and moronic as they steal the country out from under their noses. Therefore they present us with people like MoronMOnkeyBoy Bush the Chimp, Sarah Palin and Puffy McBush. . . we love our dim witted morons!

CurvyGurl said...

Langston Hughes is definitely one of my favorite poets. Thanks for posting, MacDaddy.

BTW, Somebodies Friend left a message for ya over on my last post.

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