TALK TO THE DADDY

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?"

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Langston Hughes: two poems about America

Today, the daddy is feeling the United States of America, wondering if my boy Barack can somehow make it better despite the bad economy and high unemployment. Now, Stella, who comes onto my blog quite often, thought this would be the perfect time to post Langston Hughes poem "Let America Be America Again." But I thought I would include his other good poem about the subject: "I, too, sing America." After reading these two poems, answer this for the daddy, "Do these two poems make you feel worse about America for not holding up to its promises or
inspire you to help make this a better country, despite its failings?

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:

Sombodies Friend said...

I always love reading these two poems McDaddy. They have a message of hope and change.

This country is in need of change, because things really aren't that much different then when Langston Hughs was alive.

But I think with the coming of a new Black president, it is a turn in the right direction, because:

'America never was America to me.'

& 'I, too, sing America'

Hope you had a Happy New Year McDaddy, PEACE

SagaciousHillbilly said...

I think I'm hearing the Daddy and Mr. Hughes say "Keep hope alive!"

rainywalker said...

daddyBstrong,
These two poems by Langston Hughes I'm sure you have posted before are very heartfelt and seeing. They help restore my faith in mankind and our challenging year to come.

Verna Monson said...

I would hope that at Obama's inauguration, there will be poetry such as this. We need more poetry in our country. Maybe you could write to Barack's team and suggest one or both of these two poems.

Better yet, I think you should be a late addition to the inauguration program and read these to the nation.

MacDaddy goes to Washington. Yeah.

MacDaddy said...

Somebody: Good to hear from you again. Hope you're doing better. And, yes, I hope Obama's administration will turn things around as well.

Sagacious: You got it. We can't continue to be so down.

Rainywalker: Like you, I find them very uplifting. Beginning on Christmas Eve, I've been working with a couple of agencies finding, bagging and delivering food to families. I delivered food to 8 families, two of whom I knew already. They all said they could get toys but no food for their families. I was sad to see this. But one thing I noticed in all of them: they had not given up hope. They saw this time as a kind of bump in the road them and their children and they all said things like "Jesus will make a way," or "God will see us through." Today, I'm recovering from carrying so many boxes but feeling so inspired by some folks who just want give up.

Verna: Barack's inauguration. They do have some kind of contest. I'm going to check it out. Happy New Year, my friend!

blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...

Hi there MacDaddy!

I really appreciate your love of Langston Hughes' work. I am such a fan of his poetry!

I like Verna's suggestion! You should go to Washington, D.C. for the inauguration! I hear there is a place called Busboys and Poets that has all of the aspiring poets at the mic!

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!
Lisa

Stella said...

Thank you so much for posting this on your blog, MacDaddy.

I added Hughes' poem to my blog on New Years' Eve. His poetry has resonated with me since I was about 9 years old. To me, his poetry represents faith, integrity, and hope. And it seems in 2009, we may finally share his dreams as reality.

Happy New Year, Wise Man.

Nun in the Hood said...

THANK YOU FOR SHARING LANGSTON HUGHES! I believe with my whole being,(am experiencing) that we, THE PEOPLE are in the depths of a PARADIGM SHIFT...so close that only with the hindsight of history will we be able to comprehend....and it's not JUST because we have a Black president...That surely is part of the paradigm shift...(LIKE WHO'S COMING FOR DINNER AT THE WHITE HOUSE?)...But I also beleive that we are ready for the CHANGE that this man envisions.....Another cause for PRAYER.......He's walking into a royal MESS....He needs our spiritual as well as practical support....I believe we CAN recapture the American Dream....Let's be HOPEFUL with audacity!!! And let's PRAY LIKE----

MacDaddy said...

"I believe we CAN recapture the American Dream....Let's be HOPEFUL with audacity!!!"
Nun: Amen.

Laura said...

Children's Rhymes

By what sends
the white kids
I ain't sent:
I know I can't
be President.
What don't bug
them white kids
sure bugs me:
We know everybody
ain't free.

Lies written down
for white folks
ain't for us a-tall:
Liberty And Justice--
Huh!--For All?

Langston Hughes