Langston Hughes: Dreams of Love and Peace and Joy
Langston Hughes is being featured on Google today on what would have been his 113th birthday. Google something. You’ll see.
Are you familiar with him and his work?
Born in 1902, Hughes was a brilliant African American jazz poet who began writing poetry in 8th grade, and eventually was admitted into Columbia University: a feat not to be taken lightly under the best of circumstances, but certainly not as a black man at the turn of the century.
Here’s one of his beautiful poems, written in 1926, that Google chose to feature.
I Dream a World
I dream a world where man
No other man will scorn,
Where love will bless the earth
And peace its paths adorn
I dream a world where all
Will know sweet freedom’s way,
Where greed no longer saps the soul
Nor avarice blights our day.
A world I dream where black or white,
Whatever race you be,
Will share the bounties of the earth
And every man is free,
Where wretchedness will hang its head
And joy, like a pearl,
Attends the needs of all mankind-
Of such I dream, my world!
What a lovely dream. If only . . .
During a more disillusioned period of his life a few years later, he would go on to write poems that were scorched with bitterness once he came to see that his idealistic dream for the world would not be realized any time soon.
I am so tired of waiting,
For the world to become good
And beautiful and kind?
Let us take a knife
And cut the world in two-
And see what worms are eating
At the rind.
He wrote “Tired” all the way back in 1932.
Unfortunately, it seems to me that both his hopeful “I Dream a World” poem and his somewhat anarchistic “Tired” poem are still equally relevant today.
Will we ever realize a time when his former “dreams” become reality and his latter “tired” sentiments are happily obsolete?
I don’t know the answer, but I do know that it sure is a dream worth dreaming.