Langston Hughes “sings” America

I just heard recordings of Langston Hughes reading two of his poems. He reads beautifully in a well-modulated voice. And the recordings are crystal clear. Click on this link, I, too, sing America, or go to the Poetry Archive website. The recordings were made by the Folkways label in 1955, says the note accompanying the short bio.

There are other gems on the site including poetry readings by Philip Larkin, John Betjeman, Adrian Henri and Roger McGough. Listen to Roger McGough read Oxygen. He reads it in a breathy voice to background sound effects, conjuring up the sighing of the wind. And, yes, there’s TS Eliot, Yeats, Dylan Thomas, Ginsberg reading America…

I couldn’t resist transcribing this poem by Langston Hughes:

I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I’ll be at the table
When company comes.

Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen”,

They’ll see how beautiful we are
And be ashamed —

I, too, am America.