May Day Poetry

Diego Rivera. May Day, Moscow. 1928

The Worker’s Maypole
Walter Crane

World Workers, whatever may bind ye,
This day let your work be undone:
Cast the clouds of the winter behind ye,
And come forth and be glad in the sun.

Now again while the green earth rejoices
In the bud and the blossom of May
Lift your hearts up again, and your voices,
And keep merry the World’s Labour Day.

Let the winds lift your banners from far lands
With a message of strife and of hope:
Raise the Maypole aloft with its garlands
That gathers your cause in its scope.

It is writ on each ribbon that flies
That flutters from fair Freedom’s heart:
If still far be the crown and the prize
In its winning may each take a part.

Your cause is the hope of the world,
In your strife is the life of the race,
The workers’ flag Freedom unfurled
Is the veil of the bright future’s face.

Be ye many or few drawn together,
Let your message be clear on this day;
Be ye birds of the spring, of one feather
In this–that ye sing on May-Day.

Of the new life that still lieth hidden,
Though its shadow is cast before;
The new birth of hope that unbidden
Surely comes, as the sea to the shore.

Stand fast, then, Oh Workers, your ground,
Together pull, strong and united:
Link your hands like a chain the world round,
If you will that your hopes be requited.

When the World’s Workers, sisters and brothers,
Shall build, in the new coming years,
A lair house of life–not for others,
For the earth and its fulness is theirs.

March Comrades
Louis Zukofsky

Workers and farmers unite
You have nothing,to lose
But your chains
The world is to win
This is May Day! May!
Your armies are veining the earth!

Railways and highways have tied
Blood of farmland and town
And the chains
Speed wheat to machine
This is May Day! May!
The poor’s armies veining the earth!

Hirers once fed by the harried
Cannot feed them their hire
Nor can chains
Hold the hungry in
This is May Day! May!
The poor are veining the earth!

Light lights in air blossoms red
Like nothing on earth
Now the chains
Drag graves to lie in
This is May Day! May!
The poor’s armies are veining the earth!

March comrades in revolution
From hirer unchained
Till your gain
Be the freedom of all
The World’s May Day! May!
May of the Freed of All the Earth!

Into the Streets May First
Alfred Hayes

Into the streets May First!
Into the roaring Square!
Shake the midtown towers!
Shatter the downtown air!
Come with a storm of banners,
Come with an earthquake tread,
Bells, hurl out of your belfries,
Red flag, leap out your red!
Out of the shops and factories,
Up with the sickle and hammer,
Comrades, these are our tools,
A song and a banner!
Roll song, from the sea of our hearts,
Banner, leap and be free;
Song and banner together,
Down with the bourgeoisie!
Sweep the big city, march forward,
The day is a barricade;
We hurl the bright bomb of the sun,
The moon like a hand grenade.
Pour forth like a second flood!
Thunder the alps of the air!
Subways are roaring our milllons–
Comrades, into the square!

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