SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT...

“Children, I said to her. For the first little while, they not exactly human, you don't find?”
Nalo Hopkinson

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Poem For Today. Langston Hughes


Langston Hughes wrote this poem in response to seeing the Waldorf-Astoria open during the depression.  People were sleeping on the street.

Advertisement For The Waldorf-Astoria by Langston Hughes (1902-1967)

Fine living . . . a la carte?
Come to the Waldorf-Astoria!

LISTEN HUNGRY ONES!
Look! See what Vanity Fair says about the
new Waldorf-Astoria:

"All the luxuries of private home. . . ."
Now, won't that be charming when the last flop-house
has turned you down this winter?
Furthermore:
"It is far beyond anything hitherto attempted in the hotel
world. . . ." It cost twenty-eight million dollars. The fa-
mous Oscar Tschirky is in charge of banqueting.
Alexandre Gastaud is chef. It will be a distinguished
background for society.
So when you've no place else to go, homeless and hungry
ones, choose the Waldorf as a background for your rags--
(Or do you still consider the subway after midnight good
enough?)

ROOMERS
Take a room at the new Waldorf, you down-and-outers--
sleepers in charity's flop-houses where God pulls a
long face, and you have to pray to get a bed.
They serve swell board at the Waldorf-Astoria. Look at the menu, will
you:

GUMBO CREOLE
CRABMEAT IN CASSOLETTE
BOILED BRISKET OF BEEF
SMALL ONIONS IN CREAM
WATERCRESS SALAD
PEACH MELBA

Have luncheon there this afternoon, all you jobless.
Why not?
Dine with some of the men and women who got rich off of
your labor, who clip coupons with clean white fingers
because your hands dug coal, drilled stone, sewed gar-
ments, poured steel to let other people draw dividends
and live easy.
(Or haven't you had enough yet of the soup-lines and the bit-
ter bread of charity?)
Walk through Peacock Alley tonight before dinner, and get
warm, anyway. You've got nothing else to do.

2 comments:

  1. Those are some scorching lines right there. You can feel his contempt from a mile off. Powerful stuff.I will definitely be looking up more of Langston Hughes work.

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  2. According to the biography of Hughes by Arnold Rampersad, at one time Hughes was a communist sympathizer and he wrote this:

    “Goodbye Christ.”

    Listen, Christ,
    You did alright in your day, I reckon-
    But that day’s gone now.
    They ghosted you up a swell story, too,
    Called it Bible-
    But it’s dead now,
    The popes and the preachers’ve
    Made too much money from it.
    They’ve sold you to too many

    Kings, generals, robbers, and killers-
    Even to the Tzar and the Cossacks,
    Even to Rockefeller’s Church,
    Even to THE SATURDAY EVENING POST.
    You ain’t no good no more.
    They’ve pawned you
    Till you’ve done wore out.

    Goodbye,
    Christ Jesus Lord God Jehova,
    Beat it on away from here now.
    Make way for a new guy with no religion at all-
    A real guy named
    Marx Communist Lenin Peasant Stalin Worker ME-
    I said, ME!

    Go ahead on now,
    You’re getting in the way of things, Lord.
    And please take Saint Gandhi with you when you go,
    And Saint Pope Pius,
    And Saint Aimee McPherson,
    And big black Saint Becton
    Of the Consecrated Dime.
    And step on the gas, Christ!
    Move!

    Don’t be so slow about movin?
    The world is mine from now on-
    And nobody’s gonna sell ME
    To a king, or a general,
    Or a millionaire.

    About seven years after he wrote this radical poem in 1932 one of his "friends" had it published at about the same time as his autobiography The Big Sea came out. The poem offended some people and he was ostracized. After that, he tried to appear less radical in public. He had problems during the McCarthy years.

    Personally I have a crush on the man even though he was old enough to be my grandfather. He is one of the most amazing people I ever read about.

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