写真：Carl Van Vechten,
Creative Americans: Portraits
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.
I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"
They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--
I, too, am America.
(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!
Among the many talented black writers connected with the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s, Langston Hughes was the most popular in his time. His two most important achievements were the incorporation of the rhythms of black music into his poetry and the creation of an authentic black folk speaker in Jesse B. Semple. Through both poetry and storytelling, Hughes captured the dominant oral and improvisatory traditions of black culture in written form.
Langston Hughes was born in Missouri in 1902. He began to write poetry in high school and later attended Columbia University in New York. After one year at university, Hughes commenced a nomadic life in the United States and Europe. He shipped out as a merchant marine and worked in a Paris nightclub, all the while writing and publishing poetry. His prolific literary career was launched in 1926 with the publication of his first book, The Weary Blues, a collection of poems on African American themes set to rhythms from jazz and blues. His first novel appeared in 1930, and from that point on Hughes was known as "the bard of Harlem".
In the activist 1930s, Hughes was a public figure. He worked as a journalist, published works in several media, and founded African American theaters in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Hughes's concern with race, mainly in an urban setting, is evident in his poetry, plays, screenplays, autobiographies, novels, and short stories. His poetry includes lyrics about black life and black pride as well as poems of racial protest. His major prose writings are those concerned with his character Jesse B. Semple, satirical sketches of a shrewd but supposedly ignorant Harlem resident nicknamed Simple. Simple was a wise fool, a man who saw through sham and spoke plainly. The Simple stories were originally published as newspaper sketches and later collected in five book volumes.
By the time of his death in 1967, Hughes's writings were overshadowed by those of a younger generation of black poets who viewed his work as old-fashioned. Still, Hughes's poetry and stories remain an enduring legacy of the Harlem Renaissance, and his position in the American canon is secure.