Posted by: Tom Triumph | May 3, 2009

33. This Land is Your Land: Woody Guthrie

The classic song your kids have sung a thousand times in music class, without really thinking about it from a developing adolescent mind, but note the extra verses that will fuel their expanding horizons. For a lot more on this song, including teacher stuff, go to The Official Woody Guthrie Website! (I am unsure if the exclaimation point is part of the official title, although Upton Sinclair would certainly have used it). A good historical piece, a social justice piece, or even a geography webquest. Or, have a discussion about the kids’ own origins, hopes and dreams and what helps and hinders their progress. Is life fair?! So what?

Oh, there is so much here. Go!

Note the title: This Land is Your Land. What else could Guthrie have called it? As the traditionalists ask on their essay exams, “What is the significance of the title?” Also, why do you think you never sing the last few verses? Have them go deeper than mere censorship. Think: Did you enjoy the song as a child, and would they sing it now, in front of an audience? Discuss.

This Land is Your Land
Woody Guthrie

This land is your land This land is my land
From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

I’ve roamed and rambled and I followed my footsteps
To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;
And all around me a voice was sounding:
This land was made for you and me.

When the sun came shining, and I was strolling,
And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling,
As the fog was lifting a voice was chanting:
This land was made for you and me.

As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?

Nobody living can ever stop me,
As I go walking that freedom highway;
Nobody living can ever make me turn back
This land was made for you and me.

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Responses

  1. […] great images. Students probably know the first verse, but have them read all of them. You can find there here, as well as other Depression era poems. Even Emma Lazarus’ “The New Colossus” is […]


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