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,

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!

Analysis, meaning and summary of Langston Hughes's poem Let America Be America Again


  1. this is the truth says:

    ok seriously this is truth…to all of the ignorant racists who have been leaving comments on this poem just go ahead and shoot yourselves in the face…langston hughes had one of the greatest literary minds that this country has ever known and he was able to publish and receive praise for this and other poems at a time when he and other people of differnt races and relgions were being greatly oppressed. you all think of this poem as if it were written today where many of you obviously believe that america has no more problems dealing with race. you have to realize that this poem was written during a time period where this was one of the biggest problems our country faced and for african americans, latinos, indians, immigrants, and other races, it was their whole life. what else did he have to write about? even if he wrote this poem today, it would still be incredible because, regardless to what the racists commenting on this poem believe, there still is a problem with race. yes, our country still has racial issues. i dont know what beverly hills country club community you all grew up in but it does exist.

  2. zainab says:

    America doesnt mean Democracy and Democracy doesn’t mean America..

  3. Zer0ne says:

    I remember reading this once to my class back in 2002. I had to capture the emotion of this poem, and be able to say it (or in certain parts, shout) as if I meant it.

    I remember one thing that went through my mind back then, and it still does now. This poem can be applied to what we have today. America has forgotten what it was originally about, and at this rate, it will never remember. When the first settlers landed here to colonize, they travelled seeking freedom. Freedom from oppression, and persecution. They wanted the freedom to rule themselves, to be able to practice their religion(s) without being persecuted by anyone against them. Overall, they wanted to be free from being controlled, and a chance to be equal to one another.

    This was the original concept of the American Government; a government ruled by all of the people. Where a person can come and be just like everyone else. Instead, we have a country where the rich make the rules, and a government that caters to them. To those of us in the US, take a look around. Take a look at how everything seems to revolve around those who have and control the money, how the government can do almost anything as they please, and how the others suffer for everything they do.

    Read this poem again, and again, and again. Close your eyes, and imagine yourself in his place. Take a glimps of the world from his eyes, and you’ll understand a bit of what he has written.

  4. OralInterp says:

    I have been utterly shocked at some of the racist and hurtful comments on this page. In my opinion, if this poem was posted as having an anonymous author, no one would know that it was written by an African-American. Or rather, if it was publicized as being written by a white author, there would not be so many racist comments against it. THIS IS NOT a poem about black slavery or prejudice against the African-American race. Hughes specifically refers to “the poor white” and “red man” IN ADDITION to the “Negro.” I think the knowledge that Hughes was an African-American himself is overriding his message in some of your minds; you automatically assume he is lashing out at the white race because he lived in a time where racial prejudice was (sadly) more rampant than it is today. Instead of concentrating solely on the racial aspects of this poem (although they are an integral part and should be considered in analyzing this work) try to see what else Hughes is trying to get across. I agree with JenPP on the comment that the American Dream is a perfection that we as a country will never attain. I think that Hughes sees that; the main message is that we, as a UNIFIED society, regardless of race or status, should do our best to ATTEMPT to achieve what we claim our country to be: the “homeland of the free.”

    Also, as a side note to some of you who have deemed yourself poetic critics: in the world of literature, it is rude and even incorrect to label a work “good” or “bad.” Yes, you reserve the right to express your feelings on how you felt about the work, such as saying,”I didn’t like the way he said this,” or “I love the use of allusion here.” But to consider yourself powerful enough to deem an artist’s work “good” or “bad” as though you have the final word on what is or what isn’t is ridiculous; you are giving yourself false power. Art is never “good” or “bad.” It just IS. It is your INTERPRETATION and the impact that it had on you that is either positive or negative.

  5. Grace says:

    I think people need to have a better understanding of not just what they say, and of what Hughes has said in his work, but what other people are saying. Might I ask why controdict someone, when you are actually, in fact agreeing? There is a diference between arguing and debating. Arguing is child’s play. Debate is for adults.

  6. yarel again says:

    To:jennifer from United Kingdom

    Your post was so ignorant and I think you should know what you are talking about when you write about America. your view are so close minded. The U.s isn’t all materialistic. It is like any other country in the world. Sure our country has its share of problems and naive people but so does the rsst of the world! Look at every single country and you can see their faults. Nothing is perfect and not one person is better than the other. We are all one race of imperfect humean beings. Everyone has their fauls but humans have to see past the walls of established mind sets of superiority, religion, race, countries, nations, and continental didvisions.

  7. Yarel 16 years old says:

    Everyone who reads a Langston Hughes work has to keep in mind that he lived in a time when suppression of the black race was customary and the Jim Crow laws where at their peak. The time of the harlem Reinassance when 90% of black people were stuck in the south being tortured, lynched, bounded by sharecropping, and in a way still slaves in society. Growing up in a democratic government while these terrible things were happenning was all that Hughes saw. Ofcourse he would look at the cummunist governments who swear that their main agendas are equality. He was naive in this way to blame the government when so much has gone wrong. even though cummunism is terrible, langston was so blinded at the suppression of his race that he ignored the injustices, labors, and terrors of a cummunist government. His poem was beautiful. It is a story of slavery in not only America but in the world. The title may be America but it is not right to judge the US for their problems when all countries have suffered the same. The world isn’t perfect, the human race is not perfect. But people like Langston Hughes can help us learn and can teach us to see the wrongs that have been committed. Only after we learn of the terrors once witnessed is when we can avoid repeating the mistakes all of humanity has made.I am usually not the biggest poetry fan but Langston was a credible poet and a great writer. Despite the controversies of the simplicity of his works.

  8. max powers says:

    this poem sucked it had no soul or flow in its words im not impressed

  9. alpal says:

    I think this poem gives you a new perspective on the USA. Very interesting and touching. Great work Hughes!

  10. Ari says:

    At first I think this poem is really great. I like it even more than the German ones 😉
    I also believe we should consider that it is still up-to-date. I think that the people today becomes more and more selfish with their grabbing and greed. So they do what they want without thinking of other people living around them. I don’t know whether it is like this in America but I’m quite sure that there’s no place all over the world where you are safe from this. I hope you see that we all make the world bad because we only wait and see without doing something. That’s it what the poem made me think of and I hope that I’m not the only one because the world can be better if we do something for her and always try to help other poeple instead of thinking of our own profit from this actions.

  11. resa says:

    this poem is very touching and when i had to do a project on Hughes i never thought i could be this touched by a single poem i think we all need to look at ourselves and not judge every one and treat everyone equal great poem!!

  12. JenPP says:

    First off, it is really sad that alot of people posting here think Langston Hughes is alive and are saying, “Hi” to him. Do some research, people! There is alot of info on the web about LH, his life, and some critical analysis of this poem.

    I have to disagree that this poem applies to the US today. Especially coming from the mouths of pre-teens and teenagers–you haven’t even moved out of your house yet so what do you know about the real challenges in this country besides what you hear from family, TV, and your teachers? I studied this poem among many other literary pieces while obtaining my undergraduate degree. There is alot of misunderstanding when it comes ot the reading of this piece. First of all, the American Dream, much like the City on A Hill concept, will always be an unattainable goal, an ideal that can never be realized in an imperfect world. This past weekend I witnessed a Girl Scout troop performing this as part of World Thinking Day. I was appalled as they acted out slaves being beaten and children recited these words. They do not understand the meaning. The poem is not uplifintg–it is an expression of the struggles of those from the depths of society to attain the Dream. In a capitalist society, no matter how “rich” the poor are, there will still always be a “poor” class and a Rich class. The demographics may differ but there will always be such a system in the US, unless capitalism dies. The only way that there can be equality as Hughes expressed would be in a socilaist or communist government, where there are no real social classes. It is important in criticizing any work that you consider the times in which the work was crafted, the history of the writer themselves, and so on. How can you otherwise put the work into the correct context to do an analysis?

  13. Kyle Lover says:

    Wow this is BEAUTIFUL! The only reason that I am even on this site is b/c i am doing hw and i need to kno y he wrote this poem but i am not having any luck. But i will find it eventually so neway i love the poem I think that it is really cool you kno what i mean i am sure u guys do cause like a lot of peeps have said so but i haven’t read all of them only the ones that first popped up and one of them was left on my friends b-day (August 27) and the next one was left on my b-day…(August 26) then another one was left on my moms b-day (August 23) isn’t that cool yeah i kno well i have to go so bye!!
    email me!

    ~Kyle Lover~

  14. okairy says:

    This poem has a very interesting point of view. I wonder if Langston Hughes were still alive today, if he’d still have the same point of view that he has in this poem.
    To American Gal and All American Boy:
    First of all before you talk please know what you’re talking about.
    Honey if Langston hated this country so much he probably would have moved if he could. But remember that he was a black man without rights. You can’t blame him for feeling this way when he was treated like crap. This poem is how he felt during that time.
    Secondly, men didn’t fight for his ass, they fought for their own ass and their country. It just so happened to be that he was there at the time.
    Ok then. Thats my input. I realy think america has changed though.:-)

  15. al lieter says:

    this poem rocks!!!!!!!!!!!. i love it so much that i made a rock album out of it.

  16. Holly says:

    This poem was fantastic to read! I am doing a project on him for black history month! It was a very well written, well spoken poem! And if I was able to speak to Langston I would say just that!

  17. English Student says:

    I am a student in High School who just read this poem and have to do a project on it. I believe what Hughes has to say is very inspiring to anyone who has read it. It shows his true feelings about racism and what he went through. America is supposed to be THE american dream where everyone is free and happy. In reality, this is not the case. NOT everyone is free and treated equally like america states they should be. He’s basically just putting the truth out there whether someone is there to take it or not.

  18. DJ Mitchell says:

    What can I say about this poem, first of all it is very detailed and inspiring. It uses a lot of poem techniques such as imagery, diction, reputation, and paradoxes. What I think is that sets this poem so far from the others is that it is very straight forward on what Langston Hughes wants you to think but it still makes you wonder. I personally want to personally congratulate Langston Hughes on a great poem.

  19. Afzal says:

    I think this poem is really inspiring. Though I’m not American, I have a deep interest in it. I’ve read quite a bit about it and this poem has summed it all up, all the questions I’ve asked when I read all the stories and news on America and compared them with the country’s ideals and “basic dream”.. I especially like the parts “O, let my land be a land where Liberty Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,” and “And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?”.

  20. Steve says:

    this poem was ok!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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