Unable to decide, this fine Mayday morning, I give you both. However, let this not be a mere indulgence. Let it be an opportunity for self-improvement. Note, for example, that the pelf on which the weak and base fix their minds is “money or wealth, esp. when regarded with contempt or acquired by reprehensible means”. Is the word related, I wonder, to “pilfer”? And The Internationale has a fascinating history that keeps it alive long after the death of its author, Eugène Pottier. That done, let us celebrate.1

The Red Flag

(Tune: Tannenbaum or The White Cockade)

The people’s flag is deepest red  
It shrouded oft our martyred dead  
And ‘ere their limbs grew stiff and cold  
Their hearts’ blood dyed its every fold.
Then raise the scarlet banner high  
Within its shade we’ll live or die  
Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer  
We’ll keep the red flag flying here.
Look round – the Frenchman loves its blaze;  
The sturdy German chants its praise;  
In Moscow’s halls its hymns are sung;  
Chicago swells the surging throng.
It waved above our infant might,  
When all ahead seemed dark as night  
It witnessed many a deed and vow –  
We must not change its color now!
It well recalls the triumphs past;  
It gives the hope of Peace at last;  
The banner bright, the symbol plain  
Of human right and human gain.
It suits today the weak and base,  
Whose minds are fixed on pelf and place,  
To cringe before the rich man’s frown  
And haul the sacred emblem down.
With heads uncovered swear we all,  
To bear it onward till we fall.  
Come dungeon dark or gallows grim,  
This song shall be our parting hymn.

The Internationale

Arise ye starvelings from your slumbers!  
Arise ye criminals of want!  
For reason in revolt now thunders,  
And at last ends the age of cant.  
Now away with all your superstitions,  
Servile masses, arise! Arise!  
We’ll change forthwith the old conditions  
And spurn the dust to win the prize.
  Then, comrades, come rally!  
  And the last fight let us face,  
  The Internationale  
  Unites the human race!
No saviors from on high deliver,  
No trust have we in prince or peer;  
Our own right hand the chains must sever,  
Chains of hatred, of greed and fear,  
Ere the thieves will out with their booty  
And to all give a happier lot,  
Each at their forge must do their duty  
And strike the iron while it’s hot!
We peasants, artisans and others  
Enrolled among the sons of toil,  
Let’s claim the Earth henceforth for brothers,  
Drive the indolent from the soil.  
On our flesh too long has fed the raven,  
We’ve too long been the vulture’s prey,  
But now, farewell the spirit craven,  
The dawn brings in a brighter day.

  1. They don’t write stuff like this any more. Or do they? Clearly the devil has all the best tunes.  

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