“This Land is Your Land”. By Woody Guthrie. Chorus: This land is your land, this land is my land From California , to the New York Island From the redwood forest , to the gulf stream waters This land was made for you and me As I was walking a ribbon of highway
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“This Land is Your Land” By Woody Guthrie
Chorus: This land is your land, this land is my land From California, to the New York Island From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters This land was made for you and me As I was walking a ribbon of highway I saw above me an endless skyway I saw below me a golden valley This land was made for you and me Note: “As I was walking a ribbon of highway I saw above me an endless skyway” and “ribbon of highway” are two separate hyperlinks.
Chorus: I've roamed and rambled and I've 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
Chorus: The sun comes shining as I was strolling The wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling The fog was lifting a voice come chanting This land was made for you and me
Chorus: As I was walkin' - I saw a sign there And that sign said - no tress passin‘ But on the other side .... it didn't say nothin! Now that side was made for you and me!
Chorus: In the squares of the city - In the shadow of the steeple Near the relief office - I see my people And some are grumblin' and some are wonderin‘ If this land's still made for you and me. Chorus (2x)
Note: The title “Woody Guthrie” is a hyperlink. Woody Guthrie • Born on July 14, 1912, Guthrie came into our world. His family faced many economic hardships when he was a young boy, so growing up was quite difficult for Guthrie. Little did he know that he would become a significant individual in history. At age 15, he became more independent and went to live in the world on his own. He had several unusual but interesting jobs, most of which involved music, such as playing the harmonica for audiences. • Guthrie is one of the most renowned spokesmen who ever lived. He is famous for his music during the time period between World War I and World War II. As he roamed the world, he saw several poor people in poverty. This gave him the inspiration to write books and songs. He is most famous for the songs “This Land is Your Land,” “Pastures of Plenty,” and several others. (“Woody Guthrie”) Back
This Land was Made for You and Me • The significance of this line in the song is basically that Woody is trying to communicate that America is our land where we belong. Socialism inspired nationalism during the Cold War, inspiring Guthrie. He wrote “This Land is Your Land” after hearing the song “God Bless America,” which gave him inspiration. This line appears several times throughout the song, so it is an anaphora. An anaphora is the repetition of a line or word throughout a song or poem. This is also the theme of the song. (Spivey) (Ruehl) (“Anaphora”) (Nordquist) Back
Rhyme Scheme • This particular rhyme scheme shows up several times throughout “This Land is Your Land.” It usually starts with two lines that rhyme and then the other two or three lines don’t rhyme. The rhyme scheme goes like this: A, A, B, C. Having a rhyme scheme makes the song somewhat catchy and attracts the people’s attention. (“Rhyme Schemes”) Back
Ribbon of Highway • This phrase is known as a metaphor. A metaphor is stating that something is another thing, without using like or as. It is the exact opposite of a simile. Walking a “ribbon of highway” would mean walking along a thin road. This road went to California, where Woody traveled. It could also be referring to the US Highway 281. There are three ribbons. (Wilkinson),(Golden), (Livingston) (“The U.S. Highway 281 Ribbon”) Back
Diamond Deserts • When used in the first stanza, diamond deserts is a metaphor, but also an alliteration. An alliteration is when two words start with the same letter or the same sound. “Diamond deserts” is a perfect example because the letter “D” is used twice. It could be a metaphor as well because deserts aren’t really diamonds. The real meaning of diamond deserts is that the deserts were beautiful in California. “Rich, red roses” would be another good example. (“Alliteration”) Back
Wheat Fields Waving • “Wheat fields waving” captures the attention because it is both a metaphor and personification. Personification involves saying that an object is performing human-like actions. It is a metaphor because wheat can’t wave, but it can blow. (“Metaphors”) Back
California • There are two important reasons why California is significant in this song. The first reason is that California is at the edge of the United States, and Guthrie is talking about where this land is his land and our land. California is one of the boundaries. • The second reason why California is important is because of the Dust Bowl. As a result of the Dust Bowl in Oklahoma, several farmers and their families migrated to California in search of jobs and employment. Several people were in poverty in California, and Guthrie visited California during his travels around the United States. California also inspired Guthrie to write “The Grapes of Wrath,” because people in California would seek jobs involving fruit and gas industries. (Fanslow) (Spivey) Back
New York Island • The New York Island refers to Ellis Island, where immigration into the United States took place. An immigration station was opened, but it was burned down in an attempt to prevent immigration. This plan was a failure. It caused even more immigration into Boston, New Orleans, and several other ports. During World War I, the percentage of immigration decreased. • During World War II in 1984, Ellis Island closed and shut down for good. Guthrie saw the New York Island as a poor area during the time when he wrote his songs. Ellis Island immigration was one of his inspirations during his travels. (“Ellis Island – History”) (“The History of Ellis Island”) Back
Redwood Forest • The Redwood Forest is located in California, one of the impoverished sites where Woody traveled for inspiration. California is famous for redwoods. However, before World War II, floods occurred, damaging the North Coast. The poverty in this area today is still a high percentage. • California’s Redwood Coast is an excellent place for vacations and fun activities. There are several hotels. It is known for absolutely gorgeous scenery and nature. Hiking is a popular activity in that area. There is also a Redwood National Park. (Borad, Thiele, and Gienger) (“California’s Redwood Coast”) Back
Gulf Stream Waters • The Gulf Stream refers to the stream of water that distributes fresh water. Guthrie is talking about one of the borders of the United States, our land. The Gulf Stream moves water quickly and efficiently. It only consists of the part that flows from the Caribbean Islands to the mid-Atlantic. It is only a segment many parts. It goes all around the world, including around Europe and Africa. Benjamin Franklin has a lot to do with the history of the Gulf Stream. (Wilkinson) (Hobbs) Back
Dust Clouds • The Dust Bowl – This period occurred in the 1930’s when there was huge drought on lands and agriculture throughout the United States. The Dust Bowl occurred during the Great Depression, when everyone was going through difficult economical dilemmas. • The phrase “dust clouds rolling” was something Guthrie picked up from his travels around the United States. When he saw the poverty stricken peoples, he came across the Dust Bowl as well. During the Dust Bowl, there were blizzards, storms, tornados, floods, and other extremes. The Dust Bowl had good results, though. Farmers learned better farming methods and processed them in future agriculture. The Dust Bowl taught them how to take extremely good care of their crops because of the harsh weather. (“About the Dust Bowl”) (Bonnifield) Back
Relief Office • When Woody mentions the “relief office,” he is talking about the soup bowl ads during the Great Depression. This was before President Roosevelt set up the New Deal and the Social Security Act. This relief office was for impoverished people, people whom Woody studied and supported. Woody would always feel the most sympathetic for them, so he included them in his songs. The Great Depression was a time of serious economic crisis. (Stevenson) (Nelson) Back
Note • The fact that Woody was referring to many impoverished places shows that we are fortunate to have a land as great as America. This is the main connection of each section of the lyrics.
Suggestions for Further Reading ******Read this page on “This Land Is Your Land” for further reading and information on the lyrics of “This Land is Your Land.” At the bottom, there are references for even more information.
Sources • “10th Anniversary National Landscape Conservation System.” BLM.gov. Bureau of Land Management, n.d. Web. 18 May 2010. <http://www.blm.gov////////publications.Par.89081.File.dat/_Brochure_Web.pdf>. • “About the Dust Bowl.” Modern American Poetry. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 May 2010. <http://www.english.illinois.edu///.htm>. • “Alliteration.” ThinkQuest. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 May 2010. <http://library.thinkquest.org//.html>. • “Anaphora.” Silva Rhetoricae. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 May 2010. <http://rhetoric.byu.edu///.htm>. • Bonnifield, Paul. “1930’s Dust Bowl.” Ccccok.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 May 2010. <http://www.ccccok.org//.html>. • Borad, Tempra, Traci Thiele, and Richard Gienger. “Description of Usal Redwood Forest.” Working Community Forests Redwood Forest Foundation. Working Community Forests Redwood Forest Foundation, n.d. Web. 17 May 2010. <http://www.rffi.org/description.html>. • “California’s Redwood Coast.” Redwoods.info. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 May 2010. <http://redwoods.info/>.
Sources Continued • A Chart of the Gulf Stream, 1786. Chart. Broward.org. Broward, n.d. Web. 18 May 2010. <http://www.broward.org///.htm>. • The Dust Bowl. N.d. Modern American Poetry. Web. 17 May 2010. <http://www.english.illinois.edu///.htm>. • “Ellis Island - History.” The Statue of Liberty - Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. The National Park Service, n.d. Web. 17 May 2010. <http://www.ellisisland.org//_island_history.asp>. • Ellis Island immigrants. N.d. History 106-History Since 1877. Web. 17 May 2010. <http://www.google.com/?imgurl=http://www.olemiss.edu/es///ellis_island_leaving.gif&imgrefurl=http://www.olemiss.edu///&usg=___PGcF2APjmhwGggDb55PlSqLDHY=&h=334&w=250&sz=24&hl=en&start=16&um=1&itbs=1&tbnid=1IQwbIoGo07MoM:&tbnh=119&tbnw=89&prev=/%3Fq%3Dellis%2Bisland%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Dactive%26rls%3Dcom.microsoft:en-us%26tbs%3Disch:1>. • Fanslow, Robin A. “The Migrant Experience.” Memory.loc.gov. N.p., 6 Apr. 1998. Web. 17 May 2010. <http://memory.loc.gov///.html>.
Sources Continued • Gerst, Anthony J. Wheat fields waving. N.d. Planetsave. Web. 18 May 2010. <http://www.google.com/?imgurl=http://www.planetsave.com////.JPG&imgrefurl=http://planetsave.com/blog////land-was-made-for-you-and-me/&usg=__CU3TKWw_wY4x4y-r2SrVxE9DYDw=&h=474&w=640&sz=116&hl=en&start=3&um=1&itbs=1&tbnid=tq2mnu5h7asS-M:&tbnh=101&tbnw=137&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dwheat%2Bfields%2Bwaving%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Dactive%26sa%3DN%26rls%3Dcom.microsoft:en-us%26tbs%3Disch:1>. • Golden, Kathryn. That Ribbon of Highway II, Highway 99 from Sacramento to the Mexican Border. N.d. Living Gold Press. Web. 18 May 2010. <http://www.livinggoldpress.com/.htm>. • Gordon, Lou. Woody at Greystone Hospital, New Jersey, 1958. 1958. WoodyGuthrie.org. Web. 17 May 2010. <http://www.woodyguthrie.org//.htm>. • “The History of Ellis Island.” Library.thinkquest.org. ThinkQuest, n.d. Web. 17 May 2010. <http://library.thinkquest.org//.html>. • Hobbs, James C. “The Gulf Stream.” Broward.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 May 2010. <http://www.broward.org///lii14006.htm>.
Sources Continued • Large Political Map of USA . Map. N.p.: Graphi-Ogre, 2004. Map of USA. Web. 18 May 2010. <http://www.google.com/?imgurl=http://www.map-of-usa.co.uk//politcal-map.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.map-of-usa.co.uk/political-usa-map.htm&usg=__ks_TQ1Sk_QDNWKd6r_WPVKdBVSs=&h=550&w=735&sz=130&hl=en&start=1&um=1&itbs=1&tbnid=cITnbnyfvQ5XeM:&tbnh=106&tbnw=141&prev=/images%3Fq%3DUSA%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Dactive%26sa%3DN%26rls%3Dcom.microsoft:en-us%26tbs%3Disch:1>. • Livingston, Jill. “That Ribbon of Highway I, II & III.” Living Gold Press. Living Gold Press, n.d. Web. 18 May 2010. <http://www.livinggoldpress.com/.htm>. • “Metaphors.” RHL School. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 May 2010. <http://www.rhlschool.com/n26.htm>.
Sources Continued • Nature Mousepad. N.d. Nature Mousepad of:. Rolph Hicker Photography, n.d. Web. 17 May 2010. <http://www.google.com/?imgurl=http://www.hickerphoto.com////_national_forest_t2051.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.hickerphoto.com/national-forest-8433-mousepad.htm&usg=__Q6E9lT1ze26jPO4TL6PwQDR11LM=&h=311&w=468&sz=54&hl=en&start=3&um=1&itbs=1&tbnid=jLS8zw8a8fjPmM:&tbnh=85&tbnw=128&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dredwood%2Bforest%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Dactive%26sa%3DN%26rls%3Dcom.microsoft:en-us%26tbs%3Disch:1>. • Nelson, Cary. “The Great Depression.” Modern American Poetry. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 May 2010. <http://www.english.illinois.edu///.htm>. • Nordquist, Richard. “anaphora (rhetoric).” About.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 May 2010. <http://grammar.about.com////.htm>. • “The Official Woody Guthrie Website!” Woody Guthrie. N.p., 6 May 2010. Web. 17 May 2010. <http://www.woodyguthrie.org/>. • “Rhyme Schemes.” Rbuhsd. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 May 2010. <http://www.rbuhsd.k12.ca.us/~rgrow/%20Schemes.html>.
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