Jekyll Island Beach 2012

Jekyll Island Beach 2012
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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Langston Hughes


The Rogue Speaks:

Do you know the work of Langston Hughes? His poems, prose, and plays were enormously important in the artistic contributions of black Americans during the Harlem Renaissance in the 20's.




Langston Hughes was born in Joplin, Missouri in 1902. His parents divorced when he was just a little boy, and his father moved to Mexico. Langston's mother remarried and left him to be raised by his grandmother. When he was 13, he moved to Lincoln, Illinois to live with his mother and step-father. It was there that Langston began writing poetry. After graduating from high school, Langston attended Columbia University for a year, and then took a year to travel. He later graduated from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.

In 1930, his first novel, Not Without Laughter, received the Harmon Gold Medla for Literature.

Hughes died of prostate cancer in 1967.

Please take a few moments to read the following poem by Langston Hughes. Even though it was written many, many years ago, there are aspects of this piece that could have been penned only last week.



LET AMERICA BE AMERICA AGAIN


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!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!
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!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!



The first selection of music you hear is by American composer, Aaron Copeland. The second is by another American composer, Samuel Barber.

Please go to Jenny's Alphabe-Thursday and read the other offerings.

41 comments:

Cindy Adkins said...

What a poignant poem, Judie...and also, I love Aaron Copeland...So many people know his music even if his name is not familiar to everyone--How interesting, isn't it?

I hope you're having fun this summer--I imagine it must be so hot there...It's 100 here--Hooray for air-conditioning! lol
XO
Cindy

Jo said...

Judie, thanks for sharing, I truely enjoyed the poem.
And thanks for comment about me not being Lazy,teehehe, I do get a smart spurt once in awhile.
~Jo
Lazyonloblolly

Bruce Coltin said...

Powerful stuff! He was mandatory reading back in my college days in the roaring times of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

askcherlock said...

Langston Hughes. The name alone is symbolic, isn't it Judie? What an amazing and powerful writer he was. This brings back a mixture of emotions with happy memories yet sadness in that we have really not come that far...yet. I still cling to hope.

JJ said...

Don't know Langston Hughes? Can't pass one of my courses. Essential to any literature study.

JDaniel4's Mom said...

I love the poem you selected. I have read his stories,but not his poems.

taylorsoutback said...

Moved beyond words...
I will be adding his poems/books to my Must Read list.

Teresa said...

I love the poetry of Langston Hughes. I do think "Mother to Son" is my favorite. You've chosen a very relevant poem to share.

Vicki aka Jake said...

Whenever I read or hear something someone long ago says about the hard side of life, it makes me think. Life has always been hard; times have always been troubled for some, no matter what the era. Every generation feels it. Thanks for the great post Judie...

Tammy said...

Wow. Powerful stuff!

Rocky Mountain Woman said...

I have never heard of Langston Hughes until now. I'm off to learn more!

ellen b said...

Hi Judie,
thanks for sharing about Langston Hughes.

lulumusing said...

I'm so glad you printed this poem. I have read it before but it's been a while. He was writing at a time when his Negro contemporaries were finding their voice and there is some wonderful literature in the period.

Rosalind Adam said...

A very moving poem. Thanks for sharing it.

http://rosalindadam.blogspot.com/

Sue said...

I'd heard of, but never read, him.

Thanks for changing that today.

=)

Sarah said...

Is it me or we're moving farther away from the America that would have been?

Joann Mannix said...

Judie, you're killing me today. The power of a Langston Hughes poem coupled by a magnificent piece of music, the combination slays me with its beauty.

I am in awe of gifted poets. Their ability to take simple words and weave them into such a fine thing is just a spectacular gift, indeed.

I'm back, but barely, we're off to the beach tomorrow. Man, this life never slows down. And for the record, I am completely in love with Nashville, Music City. To build a city around the love of music, now that's my kind of town. I had no idea it would be such an amazing place.

And by the way, Samuel Barber is one of my favorite composers of all time. Kanye West used this piece for the beginning of one of his rap songs. The brilliance of beautiful music is so far reaching.

EG Wow said...

Yes, I have heard of Langston Hughes. He certainly was a powerful writer! Thank you for reminding me to read his works again.

Ames said...

Hi Judie, I had never heard of Langston Hughes before. Thanks for sharing his work. I can always learn something very fascinating from you!~Ames

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

I've always admired Langston Hughes' poetry. It is very powerful! Wonderful music tio accompany this post!

THE SNEE said...

What a fantastic idea to highlight Langston Hughes! It's amazing that this poem is still so relevant!

Mari Sterling Wilbur said...

I have added Langston Hughes to my reading list. It's sad that this poem is still so applicable today. I wonder if it will always be?

mom2kiddos said...

What a meaningful poem and I think very appropriate for Independence Day that America just celebrated.

Tanya @ Greetings From the Asylum said...

What powerful words! Thanks for visiting my blog! I didn't mention, but my youngest brother and I have birthdays that are 2 days apart as well! It is funny how nature works out!

Francisca said...

What a great choice for L day, Judie. I have not read Langston before. This very relevant poem, which perhaps resonates even more today than when he wrote it, needs to be broadcast more generally. And your music fits perfectly.

Francisca said...

PS. Hope you get your washing machine back soon before your laundry starts to come alive with that special stink... or did your solution to that work? :-D

PⒿ @ $ € € ₦$ ₣®0₥... said...

What resonates most with me is that things haven't changed. Time marches on and the wealthy 1% of our population tramples on everyone else, in one way or another. Part of the problem is that the wealthy 1% are in positions of power and would INSIST that they don't trample everyone else. Great poem. Great man. Thanks, Judie.

☆☆Mumsy said...

I haven't read this poem before, and what a poem it was and still is!

Off to check out his poem collection book.

Gattina said...

I don't know him, probably the books never crossed the American border

Amanda said...

What a guy...what a poem. I've never heard of him before, thanks for bringing him to our attention.

The 20s gave us many good poets.

Barbara Rosenzweig said...

Wonderful poetry and music! A terrific end to my day.

Thanks for visiting. I'm trying to get away more from my florals to try landscapes - like the Mediterranean village.

Have a great weekend,
Barb

Splendid Little Stars said...

I am definitely aware of Langston Hughes, but did not know such details of his background. such talent and insight! powerful poem!
love Fanfare for the Common Man! and the Samuel Barber piece as well.

Thanks for the compliment on my photos! You asked what camera I use. It's an Olympus C-770 Ultra Zoom. It has 10x optical zoom (the most important kind of zoom), an important feature to me. The anti-shake feature is great as well. It does take some wonderful photos. However, it is not the best in low light situations. I've had it about 6 years. My (professional photographer) daughter had this model camera before getting much fancier equipment.

Akseli Koskela said...

Wow, that's a great poem Judie. I've always been a huge fan of Langston Hughes -- "The Bitter River" is a particular favourite and I've used many of his shorter and simpler poems like "Drum" and "Song for a Dark Girl" to teach alliteration and repetition in poetry in my classes.

Pondside said...

Wow - it could have been written today.
This is a poet that I didn't know, until today, although I have recently read his name in a book set in the first half of the 20th century.
Thank you for the introduction.

Personalized Sketches and Sentiments said...

Thanks for sharing the story of Langston Hughes and his poetry. I always enjoy seeing what you have to share with us! ...Hugs to you my friend!

Blessings & Aloha!

We have been out of town, so am just catching up with my thank you visits (I didnt even get my “one post a week” post up this week)! Thank you so, so much for stopping by my place last week!

myorii said...

Wow, that is one powerful poem you chose from his works. It definitely speaks volumes, especially in today's America where it just seems like so many things are in chaos and disarray. I really love this poem and wish that it was required reading in the classroom!

Jingle said...

you know things so well.
reading is helpful in many aspect of life, what fun.
bless you.

Judie said...

Jen, in my friend JJ's courses it is mandatory reading.

Jingle, I am in awe of your gift.

cj Schlottman said...

Judie, Thanks for reuniting me with Langston Hughes! Great selection.

Namaste..........cj

ChrisJ said...

Students don't always sit up and take notice (no matter how hard I try :), but they do when we study Langston Hughes.

Jenny said...

Judie, this was amazing. Poignant, powerful, touching.

I have no heard this name before.

As always you enrich my mind and my heart with what you have to share.

Lovely, lovely, lovely.

A+