by Langston Hughes
Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
I love Langston Hughes. I must admit I love him partly because he springs from the same roots as I, geographically speaking. He was born in Joplin, just a stone's throw (as we say in Missouri) from Kansas City, where I was born. But more than that, I think we share the same outlook on life, finding beauty in the simple daily life that we observe.
His poetry is straightforward, not cluttered with lush words and extraneous phrasing. Yet he reaches directly down to the heart of the matter and boldly brings it up into the light. If you aren't familiar with his work, I highly recommend exploring it and other "Harlem Renaissance" poets. You might start here; http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/83.
This poem speaks to me about the dreams we all share and the dream that Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke of so eloquently. We must hold on to our dreams. We must not be distracted, dissuaded, or discouraged. Despite what others may say, the sad and negative naysayers of the world, we are closer to the dream today than we have ever been.
Happy Birthday, Dr. King. Thank you for dreaming. Thank you for sharing your dream.
My wish for you today is for you to hold fast to your dreams.
This song, "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing," is often called the 'Negro National Anthem.' It was written by James Weldon Johnson in 1900 on the occasion of Abraham Lincoln's birthday. Johnson (1871-1938) was not only a poet, but he was a lawyer, author, politician, diplomat, educator, and anthologist. Pretty remarkable for a black man in the late 1800's. He must have held very fast to his dreams.
The language of his poetry is more lush than Hughes' but the message is the same. Stay focused on the dream, look to the future, and it never hurts to lift your voice and sing!
Disclaimer: this video was the only one I could find that included all the verses of this beautiful song. It was produced as a tribute to President Obama, so many of the images are political in nature.