Sunday, February 1, 2009

I, too

Democracy

Democracy will not come
Today, this year
Nor ever
Through compromise and fear.

I have as much right
As the other fellow has
To stand
On my two feet
And own the land.

I tire so of hearing people say,
Let things take their course.
Tomorrow is another day.
I do not need my freedom when I'm dead.
I cannot live on tomorrow's bread.

Freedom
Is a strong seed
Planted
In a great need.
I live here, too.
I want freedom
Just as you.

Langston Hughes (b. 1 february 1902 - 22 may 1967)

today is the birthday of the great american poet and writer langston hughes. hughes was born in joplin, missouri and as a child he moved frequently eventually landing in cleveland in 1916. he attended high school at cleveland's central high school where, encouraged by both his teachers and social activists russell and rowena jelliffe, hughes began writing in earnest. although hughes only lived in cleveland for a few years, the city considers him as one of our own. the langston hughes branch of the cleveland public library has a special collection of documents written by mr. hughes.

the following is a vid of langston hughes reciting his poem I, too


don't forget tomorrow is the 4th annual blogger (silent) poetry reading! also check out the new blog - theme thursday. this was recently launched to be a type of clearing house for all the friends out there in the blogosphere who enjoy playing along!

photo: detail of museum, washington dc - who can identify which museum?

10 comments:

LindyB said...

Your blog is soooooo cool! I love it! I love the way you write and the photographs you use. Fabulous!
I've just decided this year to be consistent in my writing and to improve with each article I write. I am inspired by yours. Keep it up!

Coffee Messiah said...

Special poem by LH!

Been too many years since I was in DC.

Smithsonian?

We're trying to get some overflow of Lincoln papers to scan from the Ft Wayne library from the Lincoln Museum here that closed last year.

Would love to see those and be able to scan them. So far nothing, so I think it may be a long shot
; (

R.L. Bourges said...

oh, nice.( Rowena died at the age of 102? Wow, I'd still have forty years ahead of me, now there's a thought!)

Today, I was thinking of vaudeville great Joséphine Baker to whom Coretta King had offered the leadership of the movement after the death of Martin Luther King Jr. Joséphine raised twelve adoptive children (whom she called The Rainbow Tribe) and worked for the French Résistance during WWII (smuggling coded messages in her sheet music.) And yet, when she visited the States, she was not allowed to choose her hotel or her restaurants freely. This woman inspired generations of singers from Shirley Bassey, to Diana Ross to Beyonce.

I think she'd be pretty happy to see what's happening in Washington these days.

best

Merle Sneed said...

Beautiful words, indeed.

Roy said...

I've been reading so many tributes to Langston Hughes on the web today. This was definitely among the top entries. Good work, Kim!

Squirrel said...

Love Hughes.

The Blue Elephant said...

Thanks. Always good to read some Langston Hughes, especially when what he spoke of as achingly unfulfilled, yet to be fulfilled, has now gone full circle and may at last be fulfilled. His work had so many branches -- music lyrics, as in Kurt Weil's STREET SCENE; you read a foreign poet and find the verses were translated by Hughes; and a friend gave me this one of his verses that is so utterly simple and beautiful:

I loved my friend.
He went away from me.
There is nothing more to say.
The poem ends, soft as it began.
I loved my friend.

Countee Cullen was another wonderful African-American poet of that era....Sorry to see from "Coffee Messiah" that the Fort Wayne Lincoln Library has closed -- They have his death mask.

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Powerful words - thanks for sharing Mouse!

Silent poetry reading day - no wonder I've come across so many poems today in blogosphere!

WAT said...

Yes, we've come a long way Langston. Almost there with the gay rights.

Almost there...I can feel it.

Edward Yablonsky said...

A beautiful and prophetic poem with the unstilled and lauded cultural diversity of our own epoch. This fereedom and democracy for all men! Is it an elusive chimera? Can we really believe in its coming this time? Are men really mature enough to take this not only in stride but in grips? They have not been mature enough in the past. Will they now and in the future?