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.
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,
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!
Kahlil Gibran |
The power of charity sows deep in my heart, and I reap and gather the wheat in bundles and give them to the hungry.
My soul gives life to the grapevine and I press its bunches and give the juice to the thirsty.
Heaven fills my lamp with oil and I place it at my window to direct the stranger through the dark.
I do all these things because I live in them; and if destiny should tie my hands and prevent me from so doing, then death would be my only desire.
For I am a poet, and if I cannot give, I shall refuse to receive.
Humanity rages like a tempest, but I sigh in silence for I know the storm must pass away while a sigh goes to God.
Human kinds cling to earthly things, but I seek ever to embrace the torch of love so it will purify me by its fire and sear inhumanity from my heart.
Substantial things deaden a man without suffering; love awakens him with enlivening pains.
Humans are divided into different clans and tribes, and belong to countries and towns.
But I find myself a stranger to all communities and belong to no settlement.
The universe is my country and the human family is my tribe.
Men are weak, and it is sad that they divide amongst themselves.
The world is narrow and it is unwise to cleave it into kingdoms, empires, and provinces.
Human kinds unite themselves one to destroy the temples of the soul, and they join hands to build edifices for earthly bodies.
I stand alone listening to the voice of hope in my deep self saying, "As love enlivens a man's heart with pain, so ignorance teaches him the way of knowledge.
" Pain and ignorance lead to great joy and knowledge because the Supreme Being has created nothing vain under the sun.
I have a yearning for my beautiful country, and I love its people because of their misery.
But if my people rose, stimulated by plunder and motivated by what they call "patriotic spirit" to murder, and invaded my neighbor's country, then upon the committing of any human atrocity I would hate my people and my country.
I sing the praise of my birthplace and long to see the home of my children; but if the people in that home refused to shelter and feed the needy wayfarer, I would convert my praise into anger and my longing to forgetfulness.
My inner voice would say, "The house that does not comfort the need is worthy of naught by destruction.
I love my native village with some of my love for my country; and I love my country with part of my love for the earth, all of which is my country; and I love the earth will all of myself because it is the haven of humanity, the manifest spirit of God.
Humanity is the spirit of the Supreme Being on earth, and that humanity is standing amidst ruins, hiding its nakedness behind tattered rags, shedding tears upon hollow cheeks, and calling for its children with pitiful voice.
But the children are busy singing their clan's anthem; they are busy sharpening the swords and cannot hear the cry of their mothers.
Humanity appeals to its people but they listen not.
Were one to listen, and console a mother by wiping her tears, other would say, "He is weak, affected by sentiment.
Humanity is the spirit of the Supreme Being on earth, and that Supreme Being preaches love and good-will.
But the people ridicule such teachings.
The Nazarene Jesus listened, and crucifixion was his lot; Socrates heard the voice and followed it, and he too fell victim in body.
The followers of The Nazarene and Socrates are the followers of Deity, and since people will not kill them, they deride them, saying, "Ridicule is more bitter than killing.
Jerusalem could not kill The Nazarene, nor Athens Socrates; they are living yet and shall live eternally.
Ridicule cannot triumph over the followers of Deity.
They live and grow forever.
Thou art my brother because you are a human, and we both are sons of one Holy Spirit; we are equal and made of the same earth.
You are here as my companion along the path of life, and my aid in understanding the meaning of hidden Truth.
You are a human, and, that fact sufficing, I love you as a brother.
You may speak of me as you choose, for Tomorrow shall take you away and will use your talk as evidence for his judgment, and you shall receive justice.
You may deprive me of whatever I possess, for my greed instigated the amassing of wealth and you are entitled to my lot if it will satisfy you.
You may do unto me whatever you wish, but you shall not be able to touch my Truth.
You may shed my blood and burn my body, but you cannot kill or hurt my spirit.
You may tie my hands with chains and my feet with shackles, and put me in the dark prison, but who shall not enslave my thinking, for it is free, like the breeze in the spacious sky.
You are my brother and I love you.
I love you worshipping in your church, kneeling in your temple, and praying in your mosque.
You and I and all are children of one religion, for the varied paths of religion are but the fingers of the loving hand of the Supreme Being, extended to all, offering completeness of spirit to all, anxious to receive all.
I love you for your Truth, derived from your knowledge; that Truth which I cannot see because of my ignorance.
But I respect it as a divine thing, for it is the deed of the spirit.
Your Truth shall meet my Truth in the coming world and blend together like the fragrance of flowers and becoming one whole and eternal Truth, perpetuating and living in the eternity of Love and Beauty.
I love you because you are weak before the strong oppressor, and poor before the greedy rich.
For these reasons I shed tears and comfort you; and from behind my tears I see you embraced in the arms of Justice, smiling and forgiving your persecutors.
You are my brother and I love you.
You are my brother, but why are you quarreling with me? Why do you invade my country and try to subjugate me for the sake of pleasing those who are seeking glory and authority?
Why do you leave your wife and children and follow Death to the distant land for the sake of those who buy glory with your blood, and high honor with your mother's tears?
Is it an honor for a man to kill his brother man? If you deem it an honor, let it be an act of worship, and erect a temple to Cain who slew his brother Abel.
Is self-preservation the first law of Nature? Why, then, does Greed urge you to self-sacrifice in order only to achieve his aim in hurting your brothers? Beware, my brother, of the leader who says, "Love of existence obliges us to deprive the people of their rights!" I say unto you but this: protecting others' rights is the noblest and most beautiful human act; if my existence requires that I kill others, then death is more honorable to me, and if I cannot find someone to kill me for the protection of my honor, I will not hesitate to take my life by my own hands for the sake of Eternity before Eternity comes.
Selfishness, my brother, is the cause of blind superiority, and superiority creates clanship, and clanship creates authority which leads to discord and subjugation.
The soul believes in the power of knowledge and justice over dark ignorance; it denies the authority that supplies the swords to defend and strengthen ignorance and oppression - that authority which destroyed Babylon and shook the foundation of Jerusalem and left Rome in ruins.
It is that which made people call criminals great mean; made writers respect their names; made historians relate the stories of their inhumanity in manner of praise.
The only authority I obey is the knowledge of guarding and acquiescing in the Natural Law of Justice.
What justice does authority display when it kills the killer? When it imprisons the robber? When it descends on a neighborhood country and slays its people? What does justice think of the authority under which a killer punishes the one who kills, and a thief sentences the one who steals?
You are my brother, and I love you; and Love is justice with its full intensity and dignity.
If justice did not support my love for you, regardless of your tribe and community, I would be a deceiver concealing the ugliness of selfishness behind the outer garment of pure love.
My soul is my friend who consoles me in misery and distress of life.
He who does not befriend his soul is an enemy of humanity, and he who does not find human guidance within himself will perish desperately.
Life emerges from within, and derives not from environs.
I came to say a word and I shall say it now.
But if death prevents its uttering, it will be said tomorrow, for tomorrow never leaves a secret in the book of eternity.
I came to live in the glory of love and the light of beauty, which are the reflections of God.
I am here living, and the people are unable to exile me from the domain of life for they know I will live in death.
If they pluck my eyes I will hearken to the murmers of love and the songs of beauty.
If they close my ears I will enjoy the touch of the breeze mixed with the incebse of love and the fragrance of beauty.
If they place me in a vacuum, I will live together with my soul, the child of love and beauty.
I came here to be for all and with all, and what I do today in my solitude will be echoed by tomorrow to the people.
What I say now with one heart will be said tomorrow by many hearts
Robert Burns |
MY lov’d, my honour’d, much respected friend!
No mercenary bard his homage pays;
With honest pride, I scorn each selfish end,
My dearest meed, a friend’s esteem and praise:
To you I sing, in simple Scottish lays,
The lowly train in life’s sequester’d scene,
The native feelings strong, the guileless ways,
What Aiken in a cottage would have been;
Ah! tho’ his worth unknown, far happier there I ween!
November chill blaws loud wi’ angry sugh;
The short’ning winter-day is near a close;
The miry beasts retreating frae the pleugh;
The black’ning trains o’ craws to their repose:
The toil-worn Cotter frae his labour goes,—
This night his weekly moil is at an end,
Collects his spades, his mattocks, and his hoes,
Hoping the morn in ease and rest to spend,
And weary, o’er the moor, his course does hameward bend.
At length his lonely cot appears in view,
Beneath the shelter of an aged tree;
Th’ expectant wee-things, toddlin, stacher through
To meet their dead, wi’ flichterin noise and glee.
His wee bit ingle, blinkin bonilie,
His clean hearth-stane, his thrifty wifie’s smile,
The lisping infant, prattling on his knee,
Does a’ his weary kiaugh and care beguile,
And makes him quite forget his labour and his toil.
Belyve, the elder bairns come drapping in,
At service out, amang the farmers roun’;
Some ca’ the pleugh, some herd, some tentie rin
A cannie errand to a neibor town:
Their eldest hope, their Jenny, woman-grown,
In youthfu’ bloom-love sparkling in her e’e—
Comes hame, perhaps to shew a braw new gown,
Or deposite her sair-won penny-fee,
To help her parents dear, if they in hardship be.
With joy unfeign’d, brothers and sisters meet,
And each for other’s weelfare kindly speirs:
The social hours, swift-wing’d, unnotic’d fleet:
Each tells the uncos that he sees or hears.
The parents, partial, eye their hopeful years;
Anticipation forward points the view;
The mother, wi’ her needle and her shears,
Gars auld claes look amaist as weel’s the new;
The father mixes a’ wi’ admonition due.
Their master’s and their mistress’ command,
The younkers a’ are warned to obey;
And mind their labours wi’ an eydent hand,
And ne’er, tho’ out o’ sight, to jauk or play;
“And O! be sure to fear the Lord alway,
And mind your duty, duly, morn and night;
Lest in temptation’s path ye gang astray,
Implore His counsel and assisting might:
They never sought in vain that sought the Lord aright.
But hark! a rap comes gently to the door;
Jenny, wha kens the meaning o’ the same,
Tells how a neibor lad came o’er the moor,
To do some errands, and convoy her hame.
The wily mother sees the conscious flame
Sparkle in Jenny’s e’e, and flush her cheek;
With heart-struck anxious care, enquires his name,
While Jenny hafflins is afraid to speak;
Weel-pleased the mother hears, it’s nae wild, worthless rake.
Wi’ kindly welcome, Jenny brings him ben;
A strappin youth, he takes the mother’s eye;
Blythe Jenny sees the visit’s no ill ta’en;
The father cracks of horses, pleughs, and kye.
The youngster’s artless heart o’erflows wi’ joy,
But blate an’ laithfu’, scarce can weel behave;
The mother, wi’ a woman’s wiles, can spy
What makes the youth sae bashfu’ and sae grave,
Weel-pleas’d to think her bairn’s respected like the lave.
O happy love! where love like this is found:
O heart-felt raptures! bliss beyond compare!
I’ve paced much this weary, mortal round,
And sage experience bids me this declare,—
“If Heaven a draught of heavenly pleasure spare—
One cordial in this melancholy vale,
’Tis when a youthful, loving, modest pair
In other’sarms, breathe out the tender tale,
Beneath the milk-white thorn that scents the evening gale.
Is there, in human form, that bears a heart,
A wretch! a villain! lost to love and truth!
That can, with studied, sly, ensnaring art,
Betray sweet Jenny’s unsuspecting youth?
Curse on his perjur’d arts! dissembling smooth!
Are honour, virtue, conscience, all exil’d?
Is there no pity, no relenting ruth,
Points to the parents fondling o’er their child?
Then paints the ruin’d maid, and their distraction wild?
But now the supper crowns their simple board,
The halesome parritch, chief of Scotia’s food;
The sowp their only hawkie does afford,
That, ’yont the hallan snugly chows her cood:
The dame brings forth, in complimental mood,
To grace the lad, her weel-hain’d kebbuck, fell;
And aft he’s prest, and aft he ca’s it guid:
The frugal wifie, garrulous, will tell
How t’was a towmond auld, sin’ lint was i’ the bell.
The cheerfu’ supper done, wi’ serious face,
They, round the ingle, form a circle wide;
The sire turns o’er, with patriarchal grace,
The big ha’bible, ance his father’s pride:
His bonnet rev’rently is laid aside,
His lyart haffets wearing thin and bare;
Those strains that once did sweet in Zion glide,
He wales a portion with judicious care;
And “Let us worship God!” he says with solemn air.
They chant their artless notes in simple guise,
They tune their hearts, by far the noblest aim;
Perhaps Dundee’s wild-warbling measures rise;
Or plaintive Martyrs, worthy of the name;
Or noble Elgin beets the heaven-ward flame;
The sweetest far of Scotia’s holy lays:
Compar’d with these, Italian trills are tame;
The tickl’d ears no heart-felt raptures raise;
Nae unison hae they with our Creator’s praise.
The priest-like father reads the sacred page,
How Abram was the friend of God on high;
Or Moses bade eternal warfare wage
With Amalek’s ungracious progeny;
Or how the royal bard did groaning lie
Beneath the stroke of Heaven’s avenging ire;
Or Job’s pathetic plaint, and wailing cry;
Or rapt Isaiah’s wild, seraphic fire;
Or other holy seers that tune the sacred lyre.
Perhaps the Christian volume is the theme,
How guiltless blood for guilty man was shed;
How He, who bore in Heaven the second name,
Had not on earth whereon to lay His head:
How His first followers and servants sped;
The precepts sage they wrote to many a land:
How he, who lone in Patmos banished,
Saw in the sun a mighty angel stand,
And heard great Bab’lon’s doom pronounc’d by Heaven’s command.
Then, kneeling down to Heaven’s Eternal King,
The saint, the father, and the husband prays:
Hope “springs exulting on triumphant wing,” 1
That thus they all shall meet in future days,
There, ever bask in uncreated rays,
No more to sigh, or shed the bitter tear,
Together hymning their Creator’s praise,
In such society, yet still more dear;
While circling Time moves round in an eternal sphere
Compar’d with this, how poor Religion’s pride,
In all the pomp of method, and of art;
When men display to congregations wide
Devotion’s ev’ry grace, except the heart!
The Power, incens’d, the pageant will desert,
The pompous strain, the sacerdotal stole;
But haply, in some cottage far apart,
May hear, well-pleas’d, the language of the soul;
And in His Book of Life the inmates poor enroll.
Then homeward all take off their sev’ral way;
The youngling cottagers retire to rest:
The parent-pair their secret homage pay,
And proffer up to Heaven the warm request,
That he who stills the raven’s clam’rous nest,
And decks the lily fair in flow’ry pride,
Would, in the way His wisdom sees the best,
For them and for their little ones provide;
But chiefly, in their hearts with grace divine preside.
From scenes like these, old Scotia’s grandeur springs,
That makes her lov’d at home, rever’d abroad:
Princes and lords are but the breath of kings,
“An honest man’s the noblest work of God;”
And certes, in fair virtue’s heavenly road,
The cottage leaves the palace far behind;
What is a lordling’s pomp? a cumbrous load,
Disguising oft the wretch of human kind,
Studied in arts of hell, in wickedness refin’d!
O Scotia! my dear, my native soil!
For whom my warmest wish to Heaven is sent,
Long may thy hardy sons of rustic toil
Be blest with health, and peace, and sweet content!
And O! may Heaven their simple lives prevent
From luxury’s contagion, weak and vile!
Then howe’er crowns and coronets be rent,
A virtuous populace may rise the while,
And stand a wall of fire around their much-lov’d isle.
O Thou! who pour’d the patriotic tide,
That stream’d thro’ Wallace’s undaunted heart,
Who dar’d to nobly stem tyrannic pride,
Or nobly die, the second glorious part:
(The patriot’s God peculiarly thou art,
His friend, inspirer, guardian, and reward!)
O never, never Scotia’s realm desert;
But still the patriot, and the patriot-bard
In bright succession raise, her ornament and guard!
Pope’s “Windsor Forest.
Henry Lawson |
They were hanging men in Buckland who would not cheer King George –
The parson from his pulpit and the blacksmith from his forge;
They were hanging men and brothers, and the stoutest heart was down,
When a quiet man from Buckland rode at dusk to raise Charlestown.
Not a young man in his glory filled with patriotic fire,
Not an orator or soldier, or a known man in his shire;
He was just the Unexpected – one of Danger's Volunteers,
At a time for which he'd waited, all unheard of, many years.
And Charlestown met in council, the quiet man to hear –
The town was large and wealthy, but the folks were filled with fear,
The fear of death and plunder; and none to lead had they,
And Self fought Patriotism as will always be the way.
The man turned to the people, and he spoke in anger then.
And crooked his finger here and there to those he marked as men.
And many gathered round him to see what they could do –
For men know men in danger, as they know the cowards too.
He chose his men and captains, and sent them here and there,
The arms and ammunition were gathered in the square;
While peaceful folk were praying or croaking, every one,
He was working with his blacksmiths at the carriage of a gun.
While the Council sat on Sunday, and the church bells rang their peal,
The quiet man was mending a broken waggon wheel;
While they passed their resolutions on his doings (and the likes),
From a pile his men brought to him he was choosing poles for pikes.
(They were hanging men in Buckland who would not cheer King George –
They were making pikes in Charlestown at every blacksmith's forge:
While the Council sat in session and the same old song they sang,
They heard the horsemen gallop out, and the blacksmiths' hammers clang.
And a thrill went through the city ere the drums began to roll,
And the coward found his courage, and the drunkard found his soul.
So a thrill went through the city that would go through all the land,
For the quiet man from Buckland held men's hearts in his right hand.
And he caught a Charlestown poet (there are many tell the tale),
And he took him by the collar when he'd filled him up with ale;
"Now, then, write a song for Charlestown that shall lift her on her way,
For she's marching out to Buckland and to Death at break o' day.
And he set the silenced women tearing sheet and shift and shirt
To make bandages and roll them for the men that would get hurt.
And he called out his musicians and he told them what to play:
"For I want my men excited when they march at break o' day.
And he set the women cooking – with a wood-and-water crew –
"For I want no empty stomachs for the work we have to do.
Then he said to his new soldiers: "Eat your fill while yet you may;
'Tis a heavy road to Buckland that we'll march at break o' day.
And a shout went through the city when the drums began to roll
(And the coward was a brave man and the beggar had a soul),
And the drunken Charlestown poet cared no more if he should hang,
For his song of "Charlestown's Coming" was the song the soldiers sang.
And they cursed the King of England, and they shouted in their glee,
And they swore to drive the British and their friends into the sea;
But when they'd quite finished swearing, said their leader "Let us pray,
For we march to Death and Freedom, and it's nearly dawn of day.
There were marching feet at daybreak, and close upon their heels
Came the scuffling tread of horses and the heavy crunch of wheels;
So they took the road to Buckland, with their scout out to take heed,
And a quiet man of fifty on a grey horse in the lead.
There was silence in the city, there was silence as of night –
Women in the ghostly daylight, kneeling, praying, deathly white,
As their mothers knelt before them, as their daughters knelt since then,
And as ours shall, in the future, kneel and pray for fighting men.
For their men had gone to battle, as our sons and grandsons too
Must go out, for Life and Freedom, as all nations have to do.
And the Charlestown women waited for the sounds that came too soon –
Though they listened, almost breathless, till the early afternoon.
Then they heard the tones of danger for their husbands, sweethearts, sons,
And they stopped their ears in terror, crying, "Oh, my God! The guns!"
Then they strained their ears to listen through the church-bells' startled chime –
Far along the road to Buckland, Charlestown's guns were marking time.
"They advance!" "They halt!" "Retreating!" "They come back!" The guns are done!"
But the calmer spirits, listening, said: "Our guns are going on.
And the friend and foe in Buckland felt two different kinds of thrills
When they heard the Charlestown cannon talking on the Buckland hills.
And the quiet man of Buckland sent a message in that day,
And he gave the British soldiers just two hours to march away.
And they hang men there no longer, there is peace on land and wave;
On the sunny hills of Buckland there is many a quiet grave.
There is peace upon the land, and there is friendship on the waves –
On the sunny hills of Buckland there are rows of quiet graves.
And an ancient man in Buckland may be seen in sunny hours,
Pottering round about his garden, and his kitchen stuff and flowers.