In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

This poem by Robert Hayden was written about Frederick Douglass, but could equally apply to Dr. King and the other men and women who worked for equality and freedom for all.

Frederick Douglass
~ by Robert Hayden ~

When it is finally ours, this freedom, this liberty, this beautiful
and terrible thing, needful to man as air,
usable as earth; when it belongs at last to all,
when it is truly instinct, brain matter, diastole, systole,
reflex action; when it is finally won; when it is more
than the gaudy mumbo jumbo of politicians:
this man, this Douglass, this former slave, this Negro
beaten to his knees, exiled, visioning a world
where none is lonely, none hunted, alien,
this man, superb in love and logic, this man
shall be remembered. Oh, not with statues’ rhetoric,
not with legends and poems and wreaths of bronze alone,
but with the lives grown out of his life, the lives
fleshing his dream of the beautiful, needful thing.

~ by Robert Hayden, from the book Poems to Read: A New Favorite Poem Anthology

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8 Responses to In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

  1. Beth Hoffman says:

    Very moving poem. I hadn’t read it before today, and it really struck me.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Beth – I had scheduled this post months and months ago and had forgotten about it. It was a wonderful way to start my morning. 🙂

  2. Michelle says:

    Wonderful poem. Definitely appropriate and sad that we can’t say we are there yet.

  3. Sheila (Book Journey)
    Twitter: bookjourney

    Thats wonderful – very touching.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies

      Sheila – I love the way poets can distill so much meaning into a small package. 🙂