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History Is Made

I’ll let the poets doing the talking: I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear, Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong, The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or … Read More

By / November 4, 2008

I’ll let the poets doing the talking:

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear, Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong, The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam, The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work, The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck, The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands, The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown, The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing, Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else, The day what belongs to the day- at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly, Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

— Walt Whitman, "I Hear America Singing"

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.

 

Tomorrow,

I’ll be at the table

When company comes.

Nobody’ll dare

Say to me,

"Eat in the kitchen,"

Then.

 

Besides,

They’ll see how beautiful I am

And be ashamed–

 

I, too, am America.

 

— Langston Hughes, "I, Too, Sing America" (Can we agree, at least tonight, that Hughes’ totalitarian politics doesn’t take away from the above?) 

UPDATE:  Okay, so I have a big mouth. Read this piece by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (who should never have left the opinion page of the New York Times):

My colleagues and I laughed and shouted, whooped and hollered, hugged each other and cried. My father waited 95 years to see this day happen, and when he called as results came in, I silently thanked God for allowing him to live long enough to cast his vote for the first black man to become president. And even he still can’t quite believe it!       

You’ve got to have ice water in your veins not to be stirred by this stuff, left, right or indifferent.

I feel my critical faculties returning already, but I can’t promise I won’t be feeding you more of this in the days and weeks to come.  Just to emphasize the difficulties ahead, today, of all days, Israel and Hamas exchanged rocket fire for the first time since June.   

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