19 June, 2014

Let Americans be Americans Again

In his classic poem, Let America be America Again, Langston Hughes laments, in 1936, an America changed almost beyond recognition by the selfishness, greed, and power lust of the wealthy. The country that began with the premise of human equality had been warped into a country dominated by the profit motive and ransacked by corporate funded corruption and manipulation.
This poem sees the situation quite similarly to that of its inspiration, but focuses on the warping of the American people themselves rather than their nation. The people make the nation when they understand and uphold its foundational promises, principles and purposes. If they lose the sense and sight of these, the people become the assassins of their own aspirations, the perpetrators of their own despoilment.
Let Americans be Americans again.
Let us dream once more the dream that made us see.
Let true patriots arise and renew their claim.
In the home of the brave and the land of the free.
Let Americans recall the Framers’ dream—
Let’s build together that bountiful land we have sworn to love
Where never tyrants strive nor traitors scheme
Nor anyone need bow to those above.
O, let Americans stand for a true land of Liberty
One marred with no false pride or gross pomposity,
Where opportunity shines bright enough for all to see,
And the air’s redolent with the scent of true Equality.
Rally the poorer White, incited, fooled and driven wild,
Rally the Black still stung and scarred from being slavery’s child.
Rally the Red from whom so much has been seized,
Rally the Yellow once into interment squeezed.
Rally the immigrants clutching fast to hope in desperate need—
Fighting bravely against the same callous, vicious plan
Of hate, fear, spite and power crushing all who take a stand.
Rally the youth, all full of courage and hope,
Ensnared in that vast, far reaching web
Of propaganda, plots and profiteering gain, of treacherous deed!
Of seized resources! Of grasping ploys to satisfy rapacious greed!
Of drive the men! Of steal the pay!
Of everything for one’s own use and none for another’s need!
Rally the farmer, bound by depleted soil.
Rally the worker enthralled in corporate toil.
Rally the Black and Brown, estranged from the vaunted dream.
Rally the people, humble, hungry, of modest or meager means—
Struggling still today but fighting for their dreams.
Embattled even now—O, Patriots!
We are the ones who never got ahead of woe and fears,
The poor and struggling people battered and disregarded throughout so many years.
Yet we are the ones who bravely still dream the hallowed dream
In Olden Times where serfs then bowed to kings,
Yet dreamt a dream so bright, so brave, so true,
That ever more its mighty clarion rings anew
In all the stone and steel, in every channel done
To make America the land it must become.
We are children of those who sailed cross the storm tossed sea
In search of what might and ought to be—
All our forebears travelled from obscure and ominous climes,
And sailed in different ships at different times,
And arrived here from whatever strand they came
To make America and claim American as their cherished name.
Who among us now are the truly free?
The millions without recourse or hope today?
The millions without food, shelter, and a say?
The millions who work for next to nothing; the millions with no pay?
Despite all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the soaring hopes we’ve held
And all the brave banners that we’ve hung,
Though millions now have lost so much there almost nothing left to lose—
Of the many yet striving to be one
Except the dream has never died and will not die while we rightly choose!
O, let Americans be Americans again—
The people who have as yet almost never been—
And yet now must be—the ones to insist that we are all free.
The land we have is the land we make—
Through the truths we tell and the risks we take,
Through the struggles, stands, and solemn pleas, through faith and pain,
Through anger’s roar and power’s strain,
We must learn to dream the invincible dream again.
Out of the rack, rage, and ruin of the plundering class,
Who rape and pillage through graft, stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must arise
We must recall the meaning of ideals we once cherished
We must again renew the vision before we the people have perished
And as Americans boldly, yet solemnly, reclaim
Our promises, principles, purposes, to reach the higher plain.
Where men, women, Black, Red, Brown, Yellow and White—
All, come together to awaken and carry on the fight—
And as Americans unite and truly be Americans again!

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