Monday, July 03, 2006

I,Too, Sing America

I have only discovered poetry in the last few years and I'm no expert. Walt Whitman was my first discovery. I picked up Leaves of Grass in a book store and stood there, mesmerized, reading through the whole book.

I love his joy, his honesty. One of my favorite lines is, "death is different than we suppose, and luckier." I know I didn't quote that exactly, but I knew what he was talking about.

But I found this poem by Langston Hughes a few years ago in a book I found in a used bookstore. I suppose it's a response to Whitman's words, "I hear America singing."

I, Too

I, too, sing America

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

Tomorrow,
I'll be at the table
When company comes
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen"
Then.

Besides
They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed.

I, too, sing America.
-Langston Hughes

I am so glad I am an American. Not so much for the big reasons, freedom and all that. But because of progress, hot water, medicine, and good food. I'm willing to share, not as apt to fight off the immigration from the south. I think there's enough and to spare. I love this country.

5 comments:

Susan M said...

I love Langston Huges, and Walt Whitman. My favorite Whitman verse (quoting from memory, so definitely not perfect):

Why should I wish to see God better than this day?
I see something of God every hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then
In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass
I find letters from God dropped in the street
And every one is signed by his name
And I leave them where they are
For I know that others shall come, punctually, forever and ever

Lisa M. said...

I am extraordinarily greatful for modern medicine, insurance, and for people who spend their lives, making our lives possible.

It's a great reason, to celebrate.

a. nonny spouse said...

I, too, am a fan of Langston Hughes. My favorite USA poem, though, is "next to of course god america" by e.e. cummings. Of course, it's more satirical than patriotic, which is probably its pull with me. :)

Happy fourth.

a. nonny spouse said...

Yikes. I mean "next to of course god america i." You don't teach for one year and everything goes downhill.

Barb said...

Love the poem! Love your thoughts!