America and I Essay

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“America and I” by Anzia Yezierska As one of the dumb, voiceless ones I speak. One of the millions of immigrants beating, beating out their hearts at your gates for a breath of understanding. Ach! America! From the other end of the earth from where I came, America was a land of living hope, woven of dreams, aflame with longing and desire. Choked for ages in the airless oppression of Russia, the Promised Land rose up—wings for my stifled spirit— sunlight burning through my darkness—freedom singing to me in my prison—deathless songs tuning prison-bars into strings of a beautiful violin. I arrived in America. My young, strong body, my heart and soul pregnant with the unlived lives of generations clamoring for expression. What my mother and father and their mother and father never had a chance to give out in Russia, I would give out in America. The hidden sap of centuries would find release; colors that never saw light—songs that died unvoiced—romance that never had a chance to blossom in the black life of the Old World. In the golden land of flowing opportunity I was to find my work that was denied me in the sterile village of my forefathers. Here I was to be free from the dead drudgery for bread that held me down in Russia. For the first time in America, I’d cease to be a slave of the belly. I’d be a creator, a giver, a human being! My work would be the living job of fullest self-expression. But from my high visions, my golden hopes, I had to put my feet down on earth. I had to have food and shelter. I had to have the money to pay for it. I was in America, among the Americans, but not of them. No speech, no common language, no way to win a smile of understanding from them, only my young, strong body and my untried faith. Only my eager, empty hands, and my full heart shining from my eyes! God from the world! Here I was with so much richness in me, but my mind was not

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