The Space Between: Literature and Culture 1914-1945

Claude McKay’s Workers’ Dreadnought Poetry (1919-1920) | Song of the New Soldier and Worker

Song of the New Soldier and Worker (April 3, 1920. Signed as Hugh Hope)

We are tired, tired, tired—we are work-weary and war-weary;
   What though the skies are soft-blue and the birds still sing
And the balmy air of day is like wine? Life is dreary
​   And the whole wide world is sick and suffering.

We are weary, weary, weary, sad and tired no longer
​   Will we go on as before, glad to be the willing tools
​Of the hard and heartless few, the favoured and the stronger,
​   Who have strength to crush and kill, for we are fools.

​We will calmly fold our arms sore from labouring, and aching,
​   We will not still feed and guard the hungry, hideous, huge machine
​That yawns with ugly mouth, performs its grim task of life-breaking
​   Like a fat whore, coarse and brazen and obscene.

O, to pull the thing to pieces! O, to wreck it all and smash
​   With the power and the will that only holy hate can give;
​Even though our broken bodies may be caught in the crash—
   Even so—that children yet unborn may live!


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