Langston Hughes: Columbia

Langston Hughes from the series, Americans who tell the truth by Robert Shetterly


My dear girl,
You really haven't been a virgin for so long.
It's ludicrous to keep up the pretext.
You're terribly involved in world assignations
And everybody knows it.
You've slept with all the big powers
In military uniforms,
And you've taken the sweet life
Of all the little brown fellows
In loincloths and cotton trousers.
When they've resisted,
You've yelled, "Rape,"
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Being one of the world's big vampires,
Why don't you come on out and say so
Like Japan, and England, and France,
And all the other nymphomaniacs of power
Who've long since dropped their
Smoke screens of innocence
To sit frankly on a bed of bombs?

Columbia is the first popular and poetic name for the United States of America; it is also the origin of the name for the District of Columbia, the federal district which is coextensive with the federal capital, Washington. Columbia is a feminine form derived from Christopher Columbus, one of the first Europeans to explore the Americas after the Vikings. The moniker dates from before the American Revolution in 1776 but fell out of use in the early 20th century.


Read about Langston Hughes and selections from his writings (click here for more information and purchase)