Yesterday was Langston Hughes‘ birthday; he would have been 113 years old. Did you see the Google Doodle that was made in honor of him? If you don’t have the time to watch it, here’s the poem featured in it.
I Dream a World
By Langston Hughes
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 a dream, my world!
Hughes was a part of the Jazz Poetry era–it’s hard not to feel the rhythm in this one poem while imagining it being set to music. That’s something that I would like to be able to do with my poetry someday. But I’ve never been good at rhythm.
Honestly, what I’d really like to be able to do is achieve the timelessness that Hughes created in this one poem. These 16 lines have both a power and a very real presence in our world today, over 40 years after his passing. All of us become memories, but some memories last longer…
It’s my work more than my name that I’m concerned with though. If I could write something that helps just one person, something that they remember and share with others, my ultimate writing goal would be fulfilled.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Hughes!