Radical Verse – Revolution by John Bovshover and sung by Dick Gaughan – Poetry Challenge

Dick Gaughan

Well, if this poem does not get picked up by those people who monitor these things online I will be astonished. I first heard this when I was a student vole (theological scurrying and excavations, thank you for asking) at a benefit night where Dick Gaughan sung for the miners in Aberdeen. Being a little islander who had never had a political thought in my head, it was a profound shock and the moment when I first started to squeak out at the barricades. Bovshover was a Yiddish poet who emigrated to the USA in 1891 from Russia and was a factory worker.

I come like a comet new born
Like the sun that arises at morning
I come like the furious tempest
That follows a thundercloud’s warning
I come like the fiery lava
From cloud-covered mountains volcanic
I come like a storm from the north
That the oceans awake to in panic

I come because tyranny planted
My seed in the hot desert sand
I come because masters have kindled
My fury with every command
I come because man cannot murder
The life-giving seed in his veins
I come because liberty cannot
Forever be fettered by chains

I come because tyrants imagine
That mankind is only their throne
I come because peace has been nourished
By bullets and cannon alone
I come because one world is two
And we face one another with rage
I come because guards have been posted
To keep out the hope of the age

From earliest times the oppressed
Have awaked me and called me to lead them
I guided them out of enslavement
And brought them to high roads of freedom
I marched at the head of their legions
And hailed a new world at its birth
And now I shall march with the peoples
Until they unfetter the earth

And you, all you sanctified moneybags
Bandits anointed and crowned
Your counterfeit towers of justice
And ethics will crash to the ground
I’ll send my good sword through your hearts
That have drained the world’s blood in their lust
Smash all your crowns and your sceptres
And trample them into the dust

I’ll rip off your rich purple garments
And tear them to rags and to shreds
Never again will their glitter
Be able to turn people’s heads
At last your cold world will be robbed of
It’s proud hypocritical glow
For we shall dissolve it as surely
As sunlight dissolves the deep snow

I’ll tear down your cobweb morality
Shatter the old chain of lies
Catch all your blackhooded preachers
And choke them as though they were flies
I’ll put a quick end to your heavens
Your gods that are deaf to all prayer
Scatter your futile old spirits
And clean up the earth and the air

And though you may choke me and shoot me
And hang me your toil is in vain
No dungeon, no gallows can scare me
Nor will I be frightened by pain
Each time I’ll arise from the earth
And break through all your weapons of doom
Until you are finished forever
Until you are dust in the tomb

image credit: “Dick Gaughan 1” by Markus Großmann (Ide) – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dick_Gaughan_1.jpg#/media/File:Dick_Gaughan_1.jpg

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