This Land Is Your Land, Woody Guthrie

Topics: Folk music, Woody Guthrie, Left-wing politics Pages: 4 (1160 words) Published: March 15, 2013
This Land is Your Land, Incomplete

The poem “This Land is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie is originally a seven stanza poem that is often cut short in the recorded versions known to many. The poem’s main element is imagery of America’s landmarks to exorcise an emotion out of the reader. The first four stanzas have a much more celebratory tone compared to the final three. The last three stanzas are cut out, so as to not dampen the joyful tone of the song. The tone of the work takes a more serious tone in the last three stanzas, which are often edited out from recorded versions.

The first part makes the reader feel proud of America by describing some of its national symbols and declaring in the last lines of each stanza. “This land was made for you and me.” (4,8,12,16.) These first four stanzas have a common theme of Guthrie taking in America’s beauty while feeling blessed to be in its land. Guthrie describes the sights as “sparkling sands” (10.) and “golden valley” (7.) to make the reader feel pleased and almost proud of our land. The first four stanzas have been sung and used to celebrate America in many patriotic settings, such as Fourth of July and Veterans Day.

The last part of the poem has been left out of the mainstream recorded versions and few realize that there are three more stanzas in the original. The last three stanzas take a different tone by describing the land of America in a darker way than the first four. This tone changes the main line “This land was made for you and me” from a joyful voice to a sadder, matter of fact, realization of reality. Guthrie sights of “No Trespassing” signs (18.) and his people being hungy (20.) are obviously different from the favorable and pleasant sights in the first part.

Now the final lines that finish these last three stanzas do not have the joyful voice declaring that “this land was made for you and me.” In the next to last stanza, “In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people, By the relief...

Cited: Denisoff, R S. "Folk Music and the American Left: A Generational-Ideological Comparison." The British Journal of Sociology 20.4 Dec. (1969): 427-42. Jstor. Web. 27 Dec. 2011. .
Guthrie, Woody. This Land Is Your Land. N.p.: McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., 2011. 249. APUS. ebooks. Web. 28 Nov. 2011.
Jackson, Mark A. "Is This Song Your Song Anymore?: Revisioning Woody Guthrie 's "This Land Is Your Land"." American Music 20.3 Sept. (2002): 249-76. Jstor. Web. 27 Dec. 2011. .
Ruess, Richard A. "Woody Guthrie and His Folk Tradition." The Journal of American Folklore 83.329 Sept. (1970): 273-303. Jstor. Web. 27 Dec. 2011. .
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