The Ballad of Booker T

Booker T.  
Was a practical man. 
He said, Till the soil 
And learn from the land.

Let down your bucket 
Where you are. 
Your fate is here 
And not afar.

To help yourself 
And your fellow man, 
Train your head, 
Your heart, and your hand.

For smartness alone’s 
Surely not meet- 
If you haven’t at the same time 
Got something to eat.

Thus at Tuskegee 
He built a school 
With book-learning there 
And the workman’s tool.

He started out 
In a simple way 
For yesterday 
Was not today.

Sometimes he had 
Compromise in his talk 
For a man must crawl 
Before he can walk

And in Alabama in ‘85 
A joker was lucky 
To be alive.

But Booker T. 
Was nobody’s fool: 
You may carve a dream 
With an humble tool.

The tallest tower 
Can tumble down 
If it be not rooted 
In solid ground.

So, being a far-seeing 
Practical man, 
He said, Train your head, 
Your heart, and your hand.

Your fate is here 
And not afar, 
So let down your bucket 
Where you are. 

The Ballad of Booker T Washington by Langston Hughes

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