Monday, January 19, 2009

Langston Hughes: Children's Rhymes

Last week, a professor in my department used the second stanza of this Langston Hughes poem on his syllabus, and it was so stunning to read in light of tomorrow's inauguration that I immediately had to go look up the whole poem.

"Children's Rhymes" reflects the generation gap at the time Hughes wrote it (early 1950's, I believe)---an older person watching (and complaining) about the jivey be-bop rhymes (in italics) of the kids on his block.

We've still got a lot of hard work stretched out in front of us, but I have to say it feels really good to make some progress!

Children's Rhymes
by Langston Hughes

When I was a chile we used to play,
"One -- two -- buckle my shoe!"
and things like that. But now, Lord,
listen at them little varmints!

By what sends
the white kids
I ain't sent:
I know I can't
be President.

There is two thousand children
in this block, I do believe!

What don't bug
them white kids
sure bugs me:
We knows everybody
ain't free!

Some of these young ones is cert'ly bad --
One batted a hard ball right through my window
and my gold fish et the glass.

What's written down
for white folks
ain't for us a-tall:
"Liberty And Justice --
Huh -- For All."

Skee! Daddle-de-do!

Salt' peanuts!


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