I am the Song of Rebellion.
Murmuring in breasts of Grecian galley slaves,
Sobbing in parched throats of pyramid hewers and builders,
Rankling in dark hearts of the Chosen in segregated Ghettos,
I was their song unsung, their hymn unlearned.
Silent, to me they turned.
Silent, they turned. Into their spiritless being,
Into their eyes unseeing,
I gave them vision, insight, self-respect;
Into their voiceless agony, their mute dread,
Little by little through the centuries
I poured them breath and utterance and words:
I goaded them even because I loved them,
Made them suffer till they learned to cry,
Until their crying became a flood of righteous wrath,
Until the flood engulfed the hand that smote them;
I was in their suffering, their cry,
Their unleashed flood,– I! I!
Moses besought me, and I led him forth;
Spartacus sang my prologue, Plato my aria.
I thundered, and a myriad empires fell,
And the powerful gates of hell crashed upon Rome,
Out of the feuds of Guelf and Fhibelline, of Moor and the Cid, of Lancaster and York,
Of chieftain and hy-king in Eire, of prince and belted knight in Britain,
Sons rose against oppressing sires, serfs against tyrants, the people against unfeeling power, right against might;
Calling my call, crying my cry, invoking my name,
Stronger through years they came.
Down vistaed years I hear my echo slip
From war-rebelling lip–
Armies of peace, who dared to love the foe
And to all war say NO!
Followers of Menno Simons and of Fox
Adamant against war with non-resistance but a will of steel
For God and for commonweal–
Mennonites, Quakers, Shakers, Dukhobortsi
And other blessed heretics, each bringing
On wings of my singing
Something out of tyranny, ignorance, hate,
Something bigger and cleaner than had been
Sung in the song of sin.
I drove into the Babylonian captivity of Avignon
Inheritors of the poverty of a fisherman,
Monarchs reeking with the fat of sacrilege.
I whispered to a Florentine, and he stirred the Arno and the Tiber with his pen, ruffled their waters with his thundering voice.
I breathed upon a monk of Whittenburg, and he turned half a world to freedom.
I roared through Anglia, and Stuart fell and common man lived.
I rustled in New England fields, and Cornwallis yielded his sword.
I sang the Marseillaise, and laughed to count royal ringlets feed the trough.
I laid aside my banjo, and unwound your slaves from their cotton and stood them on their feet.
I called for unity, and red shirts flew on red wind through Porta Pia.
I whistled like the sound of many bullets, and Romanovs lay among ther ikons.
My song is not hushed: my song is for brother, for friend
Till the end of the final end.
Hear them, you who command perilous thrones;
You who drive youth into old men’s wars for aggrandizement;
You who pass judgment upon your peers and dare to murder them by judicial act;
Hear them, you who tried upon whitened knuckles of women as they slowly climbed the crags to recognition of their equality with man.
Hear them, you who reel under opulence wrenched from the poor;
You who ease your elastic conscience by giving libraries and asylums to those who have earned your all.
Hear them, you, swine grubbing in the mire of poverty you have created, grubbing to wrest the last apple from starvelings you have brought to desperation.
Hear them, who hear me, and in their rebel cry
Know at last it is I.
I am the Song of Rebellion …
Yet in my song is hope and pity, and courage and faith.
I am the Song of Social Vision, of Rebirth, of Brotherhood;
Be this understood.
Comrades, take up the strain, the cry of right and of truth,
Until all the world, wherever is man,
Until the vision has been seen and the song heard,
And one has voiced my word,–
Wherever peace has trod, and brothers have embraced,
Wherever courage has faced
Brute strength, justice has triumphed, and love has entered,
Until in all the world the song of revolt become the song of love,–
Comrades, until an angel be born of a hellion,
I am the Song of Rebellion!
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Based on Keywords: lancaster, sacrilege, equality, serfs, commonweal, babylonian, aria, unwound, rankling, stuart, spiritless