The Space Between: Literature and Culture 1914-1945

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.

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