Poetry Turnst(y)le: Voltairine de Cleyre

I have posted this Voltairine de Cleyre poem before but today ’tis a day to enjoy it again. I have sinned, however, and changed the MANKIND and MEN references in the final stanza. Oh the tyranny of gender exclusive pronouns (she says smiling). The last stanza is otherwise my favourite in this poem.


Written-in-Red

 

Written in red their protest stands,

For the gods of the World to see;

On the dooming wall their bodiless hands

have blazoned “Upharsin,” and flaring brands

Illumine the message: “Seize the lands!

Open the prisons and make men free!”

Flame out the living words of the dead

Written-in-red.

 

Gods of the World! Their mouths are dumb!

Your guns have spoken and they are dust.

But the shrouded Living, whose hearts were numb,

have felt the beat of a wakening drum

Within them sounding-the Dead men’s tongue—

Calling: “Smite off the ancient rust!”

Have beheld “Resurrexit,” the word of the Dead,

Written-in-red.

 

Bear it aloft, O roaring, flame!

Skyward aloft, where all may see.

Slaves of the World! Our cause is the same;

One is the immemorial shame;

One is the struggle, and in One name—

HUMANITY— we battle to set ourselves free.

“Uncurse us the Land!” burn the words of the Dead,

Written-in-red.

 

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Filed under Poetry turnstile, Posts of an unqualified kind

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