Friday, September 5, 2008

Let America Be America Again

Ouch! My head hurts. I feel like screaming. Thank you, Edvard Munch, for capturing the way I feel right now on canvas many years ago. I’ve felt like screaming for some time--especially since listening to Sarah Palin speak at the Republican National Convention.


I'm a liberal soccer mom and I don't need no stinkin' lipstick!!!

I try not to let my own political leanings find their way onto my blog--but I just couldn’t help it this week. I’m so tired of the politics of division, of the media whose pundits blather on about meaningless things instead of important issues like the national debt, health care insurance for all Americans, well-paying jobs, home foreclosures, the War in Iraq, torture memos, and on and on and on…!

So here, without further blather of my own, I give you a poem I selected for this Poetry Friday.

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!

You can read the rest of the poem here.

P. S. Like Obama, I, too, am the child of a father who was not born in this country.

At Blue Rose Girls, I have a poem by W. S. Merwin entitled To the Light of September.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is here this week. Leave your comment and link at this post.


Mary Lee said...

Thanks for rounding up, Elaine. This week, instead of listening to the buzz of politics, I've been listening to the buzz of the cicadas.

Anonymous said...

I am sharing a rough draft of a "Where I'm From As An Educator" Poem. It can be found at

Thanks for rounding us all up today Elaine!

jama said...

Thanks for this magnificent poem -- just what I needed today!!

Anonymous said...

I'm in with some horse poetry:

Thanks for hosting.

Jim Danielson said...

I was thinking the same way as Mary Lee -- another post about Cicada (and crickets).

Elaine, thanks for hosting.

Jim D

Andrea -- Just One More Book!! Podcast said...

Thanks for hosting, Elaine.

This week Mark & I chat about the prehistoric, rhyming rumpus
Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp.

tanita✿davis said...

Lovely, lovely. You know, they always have the poet laureate come up with a NEW poem for an inauguration... would THIS one do so nicely? Read in a strong, ringing voice...

I'm trying to grasp mysticism this week with a discovered shape poem from the 14th century. Thanks for hosting!

Sara said...

I'm thinking about themes of apology and forgiveness, both yesterday, with my book club preview of This is Just to Say, by Joyce Sidman, and today, with Jane Kenyon's poem, Happiness.

Jules at 7-Imp said...

Oh my, Elaine. Thanks for the laugh with your liberal/lipstick line. I love this post. I feel the same way. I'm just so tired of the hate-filled messages and the fear.

Anonymous said...

I am sharing a poem special to me, John Greenleaf Whittier's "Dear Lord and Father of Mankind" here.

Laurel said...

THANK YOU! I found this inspiring, and have ranted over at my Bewilderblog in a like manner. A post on politics, poetry, and blogging. And a poem by Milosz. Song on the End of the World:

John Mutford said...

I love Hughes use of parentheses in that poem.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Lots of great posts! PaperTigers joins in on the fun with "The Poet Pencil:"

Anonymous said...

I got chills when I reached these lines:

And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am tired of those things, too. I am, like you, a lipstickless soccer mom who values the Constitution, which makes my choice in favor of Obama crystal clear.

"America will be!"

Mike Thomson said...

Fabulous choice, Elaine. I've been slacking on Friday Poetry of late but you have inspired me to return.

And, I am so glad to hear that others were as irritated as I was by Wednesday night's hate fest.

This poem by Langston Hughes has always been one of my favorites. It speaks to our hopes and dreams. It is quite inspirational.

Obama Rocks!!!

mndepalma said...

Thanks so much Elaine!!! Wow, just goes to show you how poetry can elevate the discourse. Such pain and such hope! I really appreciate you posting this now.