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