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Human Rights poems

Human Rights poems

human rights poem

Poetry and human rights have constantly been firmly believed to be connected. In contrast to prose, the guidelines of poetry are intended to be twisted and broken, permitting writers to utilize words similar to paint on a canvas. 

The outcome has always a special and influential ability to incite empathy. Countless poets saddle their abilities to capture attention to the state of human rights and express profound, complex emotions.

Here are considered as two powerful poems about Human Rights.

Caged Bird

(Written by Maya Angelou)

A free bird leaps

on the back of the wind   

and floats downstream   

till the current ends

and dips his wing

in the orange sun rays

and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks

down his narrow cage

can seldom see through

his bars of rage

his wings are clipped and   

his feet are tied

so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings   

with a fearful trill   

of things unknown   

but longed for still   

and his tune is heard   

on the distant hill   

for the caged bird   

sings of freedom.

The free bird thinks of another breeze

and the trade winds soft through the sighing trees

and the fat worms waiting on a dawn bright lawn

and he names the sky his own

But a caged bird stands on the grave of dreams   

his shadow shouts on a nightmare scream   

his wings are clipped and his feet are tied   

so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings   

with a fearful trill   

of things unknown   

but longed for still   

and his tune is heard   

on the distant hill   

for the caged bird   

sings of freedom.

This poem was written by Maya Angelou (1928-2014), who is also popularly known as one of the most significant writers as well as an activist of all time. Plus, she is acknowledged for all of her written works when it comes to poetry, essays, memoirs, and many more. 

This poem emphasizes the very opposite lives of two birds – one is being freed to live around while the other one is only living a life inside a cage.

The free bird – representing the society of white people in America, whereas the caged bird – representing the black American people.

Moreover, the caged bird emblematizes the speaker’s situation of being trapped as an outcome of oppression and racism.

Lastly, it also shows what kind of life the caged bird is meant to live. The caged bird hasn’t yet given up despite being trapped inside – thus, the poem wants to share a message of resilience.

Let America Be America Again

(Written by Langston Hughes – 1902-1967)

Let America be America again.

Let it be the dream it used to be.

Let it be the pioneer on the plain

Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—

Let it be that great strong land of love

Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme

That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty

Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,

But opportunity is real, and life is free,

Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,

Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark?

And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,

I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.

I am the red man driven from the land,

I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—

And finding only the same old stupid plan

Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,

Tangled in that ancient endless chain

Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!

Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!

Of work the men! Of take the pay!

Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.

I am the worker sold to the machine.

I am the Negro, servant to you all.

I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—

Hungry yet today despite the dream.

Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!

I am the man who never got ahead,

The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream

In the Old World while still a serf of kings,

Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,

That even yet its mighty daring sings

In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned

That’s made America the land it has become.

O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas

In search of what I meant to be my home—

For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,

And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,

And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came

To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free? Not me?

Surely not me? The millions on relief today?

The millions shot down when we strike?

The millions who have nothing for our pay?

For all the dreams we’ve dreamed

And all the songs we’ve sung

And all the hopes we’ve held

And all the flags we’ve hung,

The millions who have nothing for our pay—

Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—

The land that never has been yet—

And yet must be—the land where every man is free.

The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—

Who made America,

Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,

Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,

Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—

The steel of freedom does not stain.

From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,

We must take back our land again,

America!

O, yes,

I say it plain,

America never was America to me,

And yet I swear this oath—

America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,

The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,

We, the people, must redeem

The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.

The mountains and the endless plain—

All, all the stretch of these great green states—

And make America again!

In 1920, Hughes was a significant part of the Harlem Renaissance, when the time that literature, black intellectualism, and art flourished. He was also one of those individuals who introduced “jazz poetry”. 

Way back in 1936, he wrote the poem entitled “Let America Be America Again”  (1902-1967) in Esquire. When the time he was writing down the poem, it was actually a very hard time for him since his mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer, plus, his first-ever Broadway play didn’t receive great reviews. What hounded him was the criticism and racism he’s been through coming with his own community.

This poem puts much focus on the idea of an American dream and how, for most, attaining equality, freedom, and happiness, which the dream sums up, is near impossible.

Still and all, the poem was ended by Hughes on a very hopeful note that perhaps one day, time will come, America will finally live up to its own norms.

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