Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Black History Month: Langston Hughes & Stalingrad

Langston Hughes' poem "Good Morning Stalingrad" was published in his 1943 collection Jim Crow's Last Stand. Along with being Black History Month, February is also the month when, in that year of 1943, the Soviet people defeated the Nazis after a months-long battle and siege and at unbelievable sacrifice. The victory at Stalingrad was the beginning of the end for the fascist forces. Hughes' poem reminds us how workers and oppressed people worldwide hailed the Soviet Union for this heroic feat. Here's the poem.

Good Morning Stalingrad

Goodmorning, Stalingrad!
Lots of folks who don't like you
Had give you up for dead.
But you ain't dead!

Goodmorning, Stalingrad!
Where I live down in Dixie
Things is bad -
But they're not so bad
I still can't say
Goodmorning Stalingrad!
And I'm not so dumb
I still don't know
That as long as your red star
Lights the sky,
We won't die.

Goodmorning Stalingrad!
You're half a world away or more
But when your guns roar,
They roar for me -
And for everybody
Who want to be free.

Goodmorning Stalingrad!
Some folks try to tell me down this way
That you're our ally just for today.
That may be so - for those who want it so.
But as for me - you're my ally
Until we all free.

Goodmorning Stalingrad!
When crooks and klansmen
Lift their heads and things is bad,
I can look way across the sea
And see where simple working folks like me
Lift their heads, too, with gun in hand
To drive the fascists from the land.
You've stood between us well,
The folks who hate you'd
Done give you up for dead -
They were glad.
But you ain't dead!

And you won't be
As long as I am you
And you are me -
For you have allies everywhere,
All over the world, who care.
And they
Are with you more
Than just today.

Listen! I don't own no radio -
Can't send no messages through the air.
But I reckon you can hear me,
Anyhow, away off there.
And I know you know
I mean it when I say
(Maybe in a whisper
To keep the Klan away)
Goodmorning, Stalingrad!
I'm glad
You ain't dead!