Langston Hughes caught a lot of grief for this radical poem published in 1932. Get the full story on my blog:

What the hell, here's the poem itself:

Goodbye Christ
by Langston Hughes

Listen, Christ,
You did alright in your day, I reckon—
But that day’s gone now.
They ghosted you up a swell story, too,
Called it Bible—
But it’s dead now,
The popes and the preachers’ve
Made too much money from it.
They’ve sold you to too many

Kings, generals, robbers, and killers—
Even to the Tzar and the Cossacks,
Even to Rockefeller’s Church,
You ain’t no good no more.
They’ve pawned you
Till you’ve done wore out.

Christ Jesus Lord God Jehova,
Beat it on away from here now.
Make way for a new guy with no religion at all—
A real guy named
Marx Communist Lenin Peasant Stalin Worker ME—
I said, ME!

Go ahead on now,
You’re getting in the way of things, Lord.
And please take Saint Gandhi with you when you go,
And Saint Pope Pius,
And Saint Aimee McPherson,
And big black Saint Becton
Of the Consecrated Dime.
And step on the gas, Christ!

Don’t be so slow about movin?
The world is mine from now on—
And nobody’s gonna sell ME
To a king, or a general,
Or a millionaire.

Views: 3535

Replies to This Discussion

George Wilson Becton the black founder of "The Worlds Gospel Feast",a black mega church based in Harlem NY in the 1930's. Now, 77 years later we are saddled with the likes of Creflo Dollar,T.D. Jakes and Harry Carson ugh! Even though Hughes later claimed he was no atheist, under pressure from Mccarthy,we can applaud his courage in 1932 when this poem was written, the words and spirit of it still ring true.
The 1930s was known as the "red decade", so this type of writing was not rare. There were many black Americans who joined the Communist Party, such as Richard Wright, or were fellow-travellers, like Paul Robeson. And I should mention the Trotskyist movement as well, which included the Trinidadian C.L.R. James, one of the premier intellectuals of the 20th century, and the little known Ernest Rice McKinney, who wrote some pretty bold pieces himself, albeit in obscure bulletins that now only specialists know of. I should publish some of his stuff.
You'd be shocked at how much of history still lies fallow in archives. I've invested a considerable portion of my life in doing such research. Guess I'll keep on doing it until I end up in a cardboard box by the side of the road.
I love this one too. I've quoted from it before. The 'beat it on away from here now' gets a chuckle out of me everytime. This was a brave poem to pen.
I agree only with the point about Stalin. Lenin is a more complex case, but Marx is absolutely indispensable for understanding society. This Stalin business doesn't look too good, but in the 1930s, at least up to the point of the Great Purges and show trials, there was an excuse for this. However, while there were a few turning points, such as the 1939 Hitler-Stalin Pact, the most massive defections from Soviet-allied parties came in 1956 with the Khrushchev revelations and the invasion of Hungary. The paeans to Stalin, which were delivered also by Du Bois, Robeson, and many others, are a retrospective embarrassment.
The way I read it he sure sounds like a rabble rouser and the complete antithesis of a capitalist.

I doubt this great poem will ever be in any high school anthology.
As I said, it wasn't even in Hughes' own anthologies, and he got in a lot of hot water for it. For his most controversial political poetry see the anthology Good Morning Revolution. Way back when he wrote not only about the American race problem, but about South Africa and other political issues from a left-wing perspective. And, as I've said before, if you want to unearth the hidden history of black atheism, be prepared to deal with socialism, or leave it alone.
I'll take Marx over this mediocrity.
Wow! I wasn't aware Langston thought like this! It's rather refreshing!!!
Hughes wrote a great short story titled "Trouble with the Angels." The blasphemy in this story runs deep, but what is more insightful is his astute critique of the God-concept. If anybody gets a chance to read it, let me know what you think.
Sounds really good. I plan to look it up a.s.a.p. Thanks. I agree with Jeanetta, this adds a whole new dimension to L. Hughes. He was amazing before, now he's just that much more amazing.
This reminds me of his poem 'gods.' He was a brillian man. Unfortunately, he was so ahead of his time. I could only imagine the isolation and loneliness he experienced...




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