Langston Hughes was a man of few minced words. He was well known in the Harlem Renaissance for speaking his mind. This poem he wrote in 1935 is no exception. They say what is old is new again. I’ll let you make the determination:
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!
We’re all drawn to certain places. If you had the power to get somewhere—anywhere – where would you go right now? For your twist, focus on building a setting description.
Today’s assignment takes me into my imagination and my past is calling out to me. I have been to Jamaica twice in this life and each time I felt like I was coming home. There is something about the warmth of the people that felt familiar to me. I feel a kinship to this land and its people as if I was there before in another life. If I could be whisked away to anywhere in the world it would be there….
Dig if you will a picture of you and I engaged in a kiss. The sweat of your body covers me. Tell me my darling, can you picture this? Dream if you can a coastline with oceans of deep blue, palm trees and the smell of jerk chicken permeating throughout your nostrils. It’s like mother’s milk. Everything is easy going and there is no rush to do anything or be anywhere in particular. Walking down the street we encounter the most interesting people and have good conversations and plenty of laughs. We take time out to sit at a café and drink Blue Mountain or maybe have a rum punch. It’s whatever you like.
After the drink we stroll to the street market and talk with the vendors who treat us like family. The money that is spent is of no consequence because we are not living for materialistic things. It’s all about working together for a common goal. The vendor needs to eat and so do we and both provide a service for each other. We have a community in which we live and people know and care for each other.
After the market we stop by the beach for a nice swim and soak up the afternoon sun. There are no tourists at this beach, only locals and in the distance someone is playing some Bob Marley which always puts us in a good mood. I want you to take my hand and close your eyes, take a deep breath and inhale the smell of the ocean. Taste the salt on your lips and know that you have been blessed by God! While your eyes are closed, meditate and clear your mind. You are at peace and this is paradise to you and you are grateful to live in such a serene and beautiful place. Squidge your feet in the sand and feel the grains run through your toes. The sun is warm on your skin and you can hear the seagulls fishing in the distance. Do you feel like a kid again, because I do!
Once we have refreshed and recharged at the beach, we head home where you sit out on the patio overlooking the ocean and I get lunch. We dine on some spicy oxtails served with rice and peas, with cabbage and plantains. The aromatic scent of the food makes your mouth water before I can serve it up. I hand you a ginger beer to wash it down. Once lunch is over we relax in the cabana that you built for me for our anniversary and we relax enjoying each other’s company. There is silence, but we are not silent. We are so very comfortable there is no need for words, just relaxation and love in the air. You fall asleep while I read a good book and we are out there long enough to watch the sunset. We snuggle, kiss and do what people in love do when they are happy and alone. All is right in the world today and tomorrow who knows what adventure awaits us. Jamaica is more than paradise, it is home!