Monday, September 22, 2014

Woody Guthrie - Poetry

I'm hit or miss with these 20th century poets, but this one is a hit.  The poet is Woody Guthrie and the poem is one I've known since I was a child.  First verse anyway.  It's 'This Land is Your Land'.

This land is your land
This land is my land
From California to the New York island
From the redwood forests to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

I've roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond desserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking, I saw a sign there,
And on the sign it said "No Trespassing."
But on the other side it didn't say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back,
This land was made for you and me.

As I mentioned up above, I only really knew the first verse.  The second and third verses are familiar to me, so maybe we sang them in school.  (I wonder if school kids still sing this?  I'll have to ask my daughter.)  The first half is a well loved song, maybe second only to 'America the Beautiful' in terms of well loved patriotic American songs.  The second half gets into some touchy politics and I'm sure isn't as well loved.  I'll just say that I'm more a fan of property rights than Woody Guthrie and leave it there.
Maybe it's just because I'm more familiar to this as a song, but I think it doesn't work as well as a straight poem.  Which isn't that much of an issue, since Woody Guthrie clearly meant it as a song.  Still, I don't know that I would include it in a list of greatest poems.
Editors prerogative, I guess.

No comments:

Post a Comment