Freedom’s Plow

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  • In honor of Memorial Day, I am sharing a piece of patriotic writing from a unique and powerful American voice, Langston Hughes. Below are the last three stanzas of the poem, you can find the entirety of the poem here.

    Freedom’s Plow
    by Langston Hughes, 1943

    America is a dream.
    The poet says it was promises.
    The people say it is promises-that will come true.
    The people do not always say things out loud,
    Nor write them down on paper.
    The people often hold
    Great thoughts in their deepest hearts
    And sometimes only blunderingly express them,
    Haltingly and stumblingly say them,
    And faultily put them into practice.
    The people do not always understand each other.
    But there is, somewhere there,
    Always the trying to understand,
    And the trying to say,
    “You are a man. Together we are building our land.”

    America!
    Land created in common,
    Dream nourished in common,
    Keep your hand on the plow! Hold on!
    If the house is not yet finished,
    Don’t be discouraged, builder!
    If the fight is not yet won,
    Don’t be weary, soldier!
    The plan and the pattern is here,
    Woven from the beginning
    Into the warp and woof of America:
    ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL.
    NO MAN IS GOOD ENOUGH
    TO GOVERN ANOTHER MAN
    WITHOUT HIS CONSENT.
    BETTER DIE FREE,
    THAN TO LIVE SLAVES.
    Who said those things? Americans!
    Who owns those words? America!
    Who is America? You, me!
    We are America!
    To the enemy who would conquer us from without,
    We say, NO!
    To the enemy who would divide
    And conquer us from within,
    We say, NO!
    FREEDOM!
    BROTHERHOOD!
    DEMOCRACY!
    To all the enemies of these great words:
    We say, NO!

    A long time ago,
    An enslaved people heading toward freedom
    Made up a song:
    Keep Your Hand On The Plow! Hold On!
    The plow plowed a new furrow
    Across the field of history.
    Into that furrow the freedom seed was dropped.
    From that seed a tree grew, is growing, will ever grow.
    That tree is for everybody,
    For all America, for all the world.
    May its branches spread and shelter grow
    Until all races and all peoples know its shade.
    KEEP YOUR HAND ON THE PLOW! HOLD ON!

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