Friday, September 18, 2009

The Ballad of Booker T.

Langston Hughes

The Ballad of Booker T.
by Langston Hughes

Booker T.
Was a practical man.
He said, Till the soil
And learn from the land.

Let down your bucket
Where you are.
Your fate is here
And not afar.

To help yourself
And your fellow man,
Train your head,
Your heart, and your hand.

For smartness alone's
Surely not meet-
If you haven't at the same time
Got something to eat.

Thus at Tuskegee
He built a school
With book-learning there
And the workman's tool.

He started out
In a simple way
For yesterday
Was not today.

Sometimes he had
Compromise in his talk
For a man must crawl
Before he can walk

And in Alabama in '85
A joker was lucky
To be alive.

But Booker T.
Was nobody's fool:
You may carve a dream
With an humble tool.

The tallest tower
Can tumble down
If it be not rooted
In solid ground.

So, being a far-seeing
Practical man,
He said, Train your head,
Your heart, and your hand.

Your fate is here
And not afar,
So let down your bucket
Where you are.
-- Langston Hughes (1941)

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