Tuesday, August 23, 2011

POETRY: "Good Morning Revolution" by Langston Hughes

Alright, here is my first post on the subject of poetry. I don't really have a plan for how to approach each poem; sometimes I might be inclined to provide background or commentary, sometimes not. I may even do a spoken version on occasion (click here for some poems I've recorded in the past). Personally, I feel this is a poem that is best discovered on its own terms.

I do want to say a little bit about Langston Hughes, however (not that I know a whole lot about him). For those of you who don't know, Langston Hughes was an African-American (technically he was a mixture of a few races, but he very much identified as black) poet and one of the foremost writers of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 30s. The lion's share of his writing reflects the black way of life at that time, including the language, the struggles, and the hopes of black people in the first half of the 20th century.

It is in that section of his oeuvre that we find this poem, which is both accessible and provocative.

Good Morning Revolution

Good morning, Revolution
       You're the very best friend
       I ever had.
We gonna pal around together from now on.
Say, listen, Revolution:
You know, the boss where I used to work,
The guy that gimme the air to cut down expenses,
He wrote a long letter to the papers about you:
Said you was a trouble maker, a alien-enemy,
In other words a son-of-a-bitch.
He called up the police
And told 'em to watch out for a guy
Named Revolution.

You see,
The boss knows you're my friend.
He sees us hangin' out together.
He knows we're hungry, and ragged,
And ain't got a damn thing in this world--
And are gonna do something about it.

The boss's got all he needs, certainly,
        Eats swell,
        Owns a lotta houses,
        Goes vacationin',
        Breaks strikes,
        Runs politics, bribes police,
        Pays off congress,
        And struts all over the earth--

But me, I ain't never had enough to eat.
Me, I ain't never been warm in winter.
Me, I ain't never known security--
All my life, been livin' hand to mouth,
        Hand to mouth.

Listen, Revolution,
         We're buddies, see--
         We can take everything:
         Factories, arsenals, houses, ships,
         Railroads, forests, fields, orchards,
         Bus lines, telegraphs, radios,
         (Jesus! Raise hell with radios!)
         Steel mills, coal mines, oil wells, gas,
         All the tools of production,
         (Great day in the morning!)
         And turn 'em over to the people who work.
         Rule and run 'em for us people who work.

Boy! Them radios--
Broadcasting that very first morning to USSR:
Another member the International Soviet's done come
Greetings to the Socialist Soviet Republics
Hey you rising workers everywhere greetings--
         And we'll sign it: Germany
         Sign it: China
         Sign it: Africa
         Sign it: Poland
         Sign it: Italy
         Sign it: America
         Sign it with my one name: Worker
On that day when no one will be hungry, cold, oppressed,
Anywhere in the world again.

That's our job!

I been starvin' too long,
Ain't you?

Let's go, Revolution!

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