From Socialist Voice, July 2007

Revolutionary songs

We Only Want the Earth

James Connolly
From Songs of Freedom by Irish Authors (1907)

Some men, faint-hearted, ever seek
Our programme to retouch
And will insist, whene’er they speak,
That we demand too much.
’Tis passing strange, yet I declare
Such statements give me mirth,
For our demands most moderate are:
We only want THE EARTH.

“Be moderate,” the trimmers cry,
Who dread the tyrants’ thunder.
“You ask too much, and people fly
From you aghast in wonder.”
’Tis passing strange, for I declare
Such statements give me mirth,
For our demands most moderate are:
We only want THE EARTH.

Our masters all—a godly crew,
Whose hearts throb for the poor—
Their sympathies assure us too,
If our demands were fewer.
Most generous souls! But please observe,
What they enjoy from birth
Is all we ever had the nerve
To ask: that is, THE EARTH.

The “labour fakir,” full of guile,
Base doctrine ever preaches,
And whilst he bleeds the rank and file
Tame moderation teaches.
Yet, in his despite, we’ll see the day
When, with sword in its girth,
Labour shall march in war array
To seize its own, THE EARTH.

For labour long, with sighs and tears,
To its oppressors knelt,
But never yet, to aught save fears,
Did heart of tyrant melt.
We need not kneel, our cause no dearth
Of loyal soldiers needs,
And our victorious rallying cry
“. . . no revolutionary movement is complete without its poetical expression. If such a movement has caught hold of the imagination of the masses, they will seek a vent in song for the aspirations, the fears and hopes, the loves and hatreds engendered by the struggle. Until the movement is marked by the joyous, defiant singing of revolutionary songs, it lacks one of the most distinctive marks of a popular revolutionary movement; it is the dogma of a few, and not the faith of the multitude.”—James Connolly

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