Thursday, April 4, 2013

Great Americans A to Z: Dudley Randall

Dudley Randall (1914-2000) was an American poet and publisher. He published his first poem in a local newspaper 
when he was thirteen years old.

In his earlier years, Dudley worked in a foundry, at a post office, and he briefly served in the military. He earned degrees in English and library science, was a librarian, a teacher, and then finally founded his own publishing company: the Broadside Press where he published other writers works as well as his own.

Dudley would go on to write many well-known poems and would finally be awarded a fitting recognition at the age of 67 (Chicago Poet Laureate, 1981).

Dudley achieved great things, but he tried to never forget where he came from. His poem Ancestors shows this:

by Dudley Randall

Why are our ancestors
always kings or princes
and never the common people? 

Was the Old Country a democracy
where every man was a king? 
Or did the slavecatchers 
take only the aristocracy
and leave the field hands
garbage collectors
and maids

My own ancestor
(research reveals)
was a swineherd
who tended the pigs
in the Royal Pigstye
and slept in the mud
among the hogs

Yet I'm as proud of him
as of any king or prince
dreamed up in fantasies
of bygone glory. 

Who are your ancestors? Were they common people? Are you a proud descendant? 


  1. Wonderful. I love the poem. Yes I am proud of my ancestors, who were primarily farmers and labourers. Hence the name of my blog - Strong Foundations!

  2. Wonderful, Chontali! I'd never before heard of him. :-)

    The poem speaks volumes, especially where he lists the various professions that are less than aristocratic by definition.

    I know about my New World ancestors--for the past 200+ years, but I must admit, I know next to nothing about who they were in the Old World. :-)

    They were common people. During the American revolution, one arrived as a conscript, a Hessian. Indentured though he arrived, he remained, acquiring a land grant from the USA gov't. for a little patch of land about a mile from where I now sit, typing. :-)

  3. I am thoroughly enjoying your Great Americans theme.
    I have nothing but 'common folk' in my family tree. Good sturdy stock!!
    Thank you for visiting me on A to Z!
    Peanut Butter and Whine

  4. What a great man and mentor. This poem says everything.

    My people came from common but worked their way into the community. After settling in CA in the late 1840's my GGGrandfather became a State Senator after being Justice of Peace and his wife, GGGma remained a school teacher. She was the first woman teacher in the City of Columbia. She loved teaching and never left her roots about it. I still have one of her cross stiched Samplers. I love reading about people's lives and ancestory. One of the reasons why I am luv'n your blog!

  5. Sharon, I thought about your blog while writing this post last night. I still have to pass the Cyndi's List to my uncle because he does our family's genealogy research with a cousin. You give great tips!

    Teresa, It's great that you can trace your family that far! I have to research more about the Hessians or maybe you can tell me more. I don't know much about them except that they came not on their own free wills and so it's great to know of your ancestor's accomplishment. How interesting!

    Connie, thank you for your post! I enjoy visiting your fun and energetic space, and learning more about your life and happiness.

    KT Did, that's interesting stuff about your family. I would love to see your GGG's sampler! I once helped to teach a class about colonial schools and how girls would have to learn about the bible, cooking, and needlework. I had to go to the craft store for things but it would be so cool to see and feel an actual artifact of the time!

    Chontali Kirk

  6. Another person with whom I am not familiar. He makes a great point in his poem. I'm not sure of the origins on my father's side, but I think they were pretty common folk from Ireland who made good when they got to the U.S. According to my aunt on my mother's side their family may have evolved from English aristocracy. I know she'd like to at least believe that.

    Great series, Chontali.

    Wrote By Rote
    An A to Z Co-host blog

  7. That's a lovely poem. Too bad I never heard of him before.

  8. Chantali, you were gracious enough to leave a kind remark on my A to Z blog and, in turn, I am happy to discover your blog. These are the very brand of personalities to whom I gravitate and I admire all of them. Thank you for these concise and elegant profiles. I'll be back many times over the next month. (By the way, I'm wondering if the word "price" was not intended to be the word "prince" instead in the last stanza of the poem above.) Thanks for the fine read.

  9. Great concept. I can't wait to learn about more Americans that I failed to learn about in school. Especially Biddy and I live in CA.
    Keep up the great blog.


  10. Thank you so much for your comments! Thanks for spotting that typo Michael. I'll fix it.

    Chontali Kirk

  11. Thanks so much for sharing this poet. Too many can be lost and yet their gift is something we need to remember

    Appreciate your kind visit

  12. Just stopping by since you visited A to Z challenge.

    I LOVE this poem because it's so true. I must not forget my "common folk" ancestors. I need to appreciate my heritage and recognize that the generations that came before me were people too. Nice job =)

  13. you know, i never heard about dudely before
    great poem though and great pick

  14. Such a powerful poem! Looking forward to reading more of your selection of great Americans. Nice blog!


Chontali Kirk