Friday, November 19, 2010

Off the Shelf Archive - November #2

This fine poem by Langston Hughes is going into the archive to make room for the final November selection, a poem  XXX, by a Finnish poet I've recently been introduced to, Penttii Saarikoski. Since no comments are published on that page, feel free to comment on either poem here.



So without further ado, here's Langston Hughes speaking to us from the Great Depression about our lives today:





Advertisement for the Waldorf Astoria
 


Fine living . . . a la carte?
Come to the Waldorf-Astoria!

LISTEN HUNGRY ONES!
Look! See what Vanity Fair says about the
new Waldorf-Astoria:

"All the luxuries of a private home. . . ."
Now, won't that be charming when the last flop-house
has turned you down this winter?
Furthermore:
"It is far beyond anything hitherto attempted in the hotel
world. . . ." It cost twenty-eight million dollars. The fa-
mous Oscar Tschirky is in charge of banqueting.
Alexandre Gastaud is chef. It will be a distinguished
background for society.
So when you've no place else to go, homeless and hungry
ones, choose the Waldorf as a background for your rags--
(Or do you still consider the subway after midnight good
enough?)

ROOMERS
Take a room at the new Waldorf, you down-and-outers--
sleepers in charity's flop-houses where God pulls a
long face, and you have to pray to get a bed.
They serve swell board at the Waldorf-Astoria. Look at the menu, 

will you:

GUMBO CREOLE
CRABMEAT IN CASSOLETTE
BOILED BRISKET OF BEEF
SMALL ONIONS IN CREAM
WATERCRESS SALAD
PEACH MELBA

Have luncheon there this afternoon, all you jobless.
Why not?
Dine with some of the men and women who got rich off of
your labor, who clip coupons with clean white fingers
because your hands dug coal, drilled stone, sewed gar-
ments, poured steel to let other people draw dividends
and live easy.
(Or haven't you had enough yet of the soup-lines and the bit-
ter bread of charity?)
Walk through Peacock Alley tonight before dinner, and get
warm, anyway. You've got nothing else to do.



Langston Hughes 1902-1967




Illustration: Advertisement for the Waldorf Astoria Hotel, New York City, circa 1950  public domain

4 comments:

  1. nice.. may have to check out Langston Hughes..
    there are lots of fantastic poets from so many different countries to check out - and i'm not even familiar with all the fantastic german writers..
    my fav poet at the moment is ted kooser - you know him?

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  2. I stayed at the Waldorf once. It's a beautiful hotel.

    Seems the world hasn't changed much - the space between the rich and the poor grows larger...

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  3. @Talon; if anything it's gotten worse, I think. But at least you can dream about Peach Melba while sleeping in your cardboard box...

    @Claudia; No sadly, and apparently he's a Poet laureate something or other. I'll have to check him out. I love the few German language poets I know, but they're ancient ones, I'm afraid, Goethe and Rilke. So much poetry, so little time...but such a pleasant way to pass it.

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'Poetry is an echo asking a shadow to dance' ~Carl Sandburg