You did not give America to me, and never will.
America is in the hearts of the people that live in it.
But it is worth the coming, the sacrifice, the idealism.
Yes, it is worth all these - and the loneliness at night,
The bitterness of prejudice, the sharp fang of hunger,
The terror of rootlessness. It is significant that I found
You after the cold and filth in the long naked streets,
After the screaming voices buried in lost corridors
That encompassed the shouting in the dark continent.
But it is significant only that I found you in America
You did not discover America for me, and never will
But it is significant to know that this body, foreign
To all traditions, is not foreign to sun and rain.
It is significant to know that the life in this body,
Your life in another body, is the undying life
That was sacrificed to make the wide American earth
A living example of man’s democratic institutions.
Yes, it is significant only that I found you in America.
You did not make America for me, and never will.
You are stranger to that land of mind and heart
Where I travel dreaming of the future of the soul,
When the secured piety of one man is every man’s
And none evolved from it, when the blood’s desire
And the flesh’s renascence are simple for every one,
And the center of heaven a legend for children’s laughter,
And affinity starred, handshake a manifest of tenderness,
None may be severed from the joyous human bondage
That wheels history like a shocking nakedness
Of anger and fear and pity—all the living—
But it is significant only that I found you in America.
Reprinted with permission from CARLOS BULOSAN AND HIS POETRY, THE ANTHOLOGY by Susan Evangelista (U of Wash Press, 1985)
© Carlos Bulosan