Claude McKay’s Workers’ Dreadnought Poetry (1919-1920) | Re-Affirmation
Re-Affirmation (July 3, 1920. Signed as Hugh Hope)
I am downhearted not, although it seems
The new birth is abortive in the West,
And men are turning from long-cherished dreams
Of world-wide freedom to ignoble rest.
I am discouraged not, although the foe—
Shameless, like boars disporting in the mud
Of their foul fen where nothing fair can grow—
Wallow obscenely in the workers’ blood.
I am despairing not, though in our ranks,
Hard-pressed and weak, are fools and fops and knaves,
Who with their selfish aims and wanton pranks
Would sell the Cause to be contented slaves.
What though I see the trusted and the tried
For many a year turn traitor at the last,
Go over to the seeming stronger side!—
My heart feels sick, but I am not downcast.
The babe bursts from the mother’s womb in pain,
The night is darkest just before the dawn,
The heavens turn black to bless the earth with rain,
I am disheartened not, I will keep on.