“1919 the year was cold
Oh we were hungry
but we felt free
of the bourgeoisie autocracy
while the soldiers of the west
made war upon the Worker’s country,
capitalists fearful their own oppressed
might come to read your Shelly”
“Men of England. wherefore plough
for the Lords who lay ye low?
Wherefore weave with toil and care
the rich robes your tyrants wear?
The seed ye sow, another reaps;
The wealth ye find, another keeps;
The robes ye weave, another wears;
The arms ye forge, another bears.”
Is it to work and have such pay
to keep you living day to day?
while working a hoe on unowned ground
bowed by the weight of autocracy crowned?
On your back the burden of the world.
Making you dead to rapture and despair,
A thing that grieves not and that never hopes.
Stolid and stunned, a brother to the ox.
They take what you have and you forget
leaving you an empty husk
and whilst you forget
you wail at injustice – then forget again.
When you learn to remember
no more a politician will
say the words “in the name of the people”
with a smile of derision or a fleck of sneer.
“What do I believe?” The old Bolshevik eyes shined;
“That no one shall have two rooms
‘til everyone has one;
That no one shall eat two meals whilst some have none.”
Inspired by my readings of the revolutionary and social protest poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Edwin Markham, Carl Sandburg and Ella Wilcox, Also reading “Russia in 1919” by the noted British columnist and writer Arthur Ransome who was in Russia during the revolution and told the truth about what he saw.