Verse

James Connolly's The Legacy

Submitted by dalcassian on 19 August, 2013 - 1:58

Come here my son, and for a time put up your childish play,
Draw nearer to your father’s bed, and lay your games away.
No sick man’s ’plaint is this of mine, ill-tempered at your noise,
Nor carping at your eagerness to romp with childish toys.
Thou’rt but a boy and I, a man outworn with care and strife,
Would not deprive you of one joy thou canst extract from life;
But o’er my soul comes creeping on death’s shadow, and my lips
Must give to you a message ere life meets that eclipse.

Poet poisoned by Pinochet

Submitted by Matthew on 15 November, 2017 - 12:20 Author: John Cunningham

Chilean poet Pablo Neruda may have been murdered by the Pinochet dictatorship. Recent autopsies suggest that the death of the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda in 1973 was possibly caused by poisoning. This should surprise no one even moderately acquainted with the dictatorship of General Pinochet.

Grenfell

Submitted by Matthew on 3 July, 2017 - 12:58 Author: Janine Booth

Bring help
Bring fire engines
Bring water
Bring air
Bring stretchers
Bring ambulances
Bring us round from sleep and out to safety

Bring food
Bring clothes
Bring blankets
Bring camp beds
Bring phone chargers so we can find our friends and family
And tell them that we made it

Bring shoulders to cry on
Bring arms to embrace
Bring ears to listen
Bring hands to hold
Bring the strength to go on

Take Back Control

Submitted by AWL on 30 November, 2016 - 12:45 Author: Attila the Stockbroker

Janine Booth’s pick of news-related poetry is this by Attila the Stockbroker.


You tell me how you’ve suffered since the closure.
I see the pain and sadness in your eyes.
I feel your anger at our country’s leaders
Who offer only platitudes and lies.
At gigs I hear so many of these stories.
All different, but the message is the same.
You’re sick to death of scheming politicians.
No longer going to play their poxy game.

21 October 1966

Submitted by Matthew on 19 October, 2016 - 11:34 Author: Janine Booth

A villanelle about the Aberfan coal mining disaster, in which 144 people, including 116 school children, died when a coal mining waste tip collapsed.

There was a lot of anger at the National Coal Board for its neglect of safety, and at the inquest, one father insisted: "I want it recorded — ‘Buried alive by the National Coal Board’. That is what I want to see on the record. That is the feeling of those present. Those are the words we want to go on the certificate."

Grass

Submitted by dalcassian on 4 October, 2016 - 6:29 Author: Carl Sandburg

Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and
Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work.
I am the grass. I cover all.

And pile them high at Gettysburg,
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and people on
passenger trains ask the conductor:
What place is this?
Where are we now ?

I am the grass. Let me work.

Government

Submitted by dalcassian on 4 October, 2016 - 6:26 Author: Carl Sandburg

The Government—I heard about the Government and
I went out to find it. I said I would look closely at
it when I saw it.

Then I saw a policeman dragging a drunken man to the
calaboose. It was the Government in action.

I saw a ward alderman slip into an office one morning
and talk with a judge. Later in the day the judge
dismissed a case against a pickpocket who was a
live ward worker for the alderman. Again I saw
this was the Government, doing things.

Challenging the nationalist narrative

Submitted by Matthew on 27 April, 2016 - 11:22 Author: Janine Booth

From its declaration of war in 1914, Britain’s ruling class appealed to patriotism to boost its support and its military recruitment. By 1916 both were flagging. On the pages of socialist newspaper The Herald, poets used verse to question both nationalism and the war’s aims. When the government asked men to fight for King and Country, was it shielding its true motives?

The last speech of Bartolomeo Vanzetti and Nicola Sacco

Submitted by AWL on 16 March, 2016 - 9:09

This is the famous last speech of Bartolomeo Vanzetti, the class-war prisoner who, alongside Nicola Sacco, both of them anarchists, died in the electric chair in August 1927, framed by the US authorities. This speech, despite its broken English, is so beautiful and moving that it falls naturally into verse form. No-one has ever expressed more splendidly and with such stirring, simple language the aspirations and hopes of all those who fight for a better world. Once read, these words form part of every socialist’s heritage.