Poetry Corner: The Internationale

Sunday 28th of April 2019 is International Workers Memorial Day.

“Remember the dead, Fight for the living.”

International Workers Memorial Day remembers all those who have lost their lives through their work and seeks to also ensure that those tragedies are not repeated.

The Internationale by  Eugène Pottier

Eugène Pottier recadré

Eugène Pottier

Eugène Pottier, Chants Révolutionnaires. Paris, Comité Pottier, [n.d. 1890-1900]

Translated: for marxists.org by Mitchell Abidor

To Citizen Lefranςais, member of the Commune

’Tis the final conflict,
Let us unite and tomorrow,
The International
Will be the human race

Arise, the damned of the earth!
Arise, prisoners of hunger!
Reason thunders in its crater,
’Tis the eruption of the end.
Let’s make a clean slate of the past,
Enslaved mass, arise, arise!
The world’s foundation will change,
We are nothing, now let’s be all!

There are no supreme saviors,
Neither God, nor Caesar nor tribune;
Producers, let us save ourselves,
We decree common salvation!
So that the thief should offer us his throat
So that spirit be wrested from its cell,
Let us fan the forge’s flames ourselves
And strike while the iron is hot.

The state represses, the law cheats,
Taxes bleed the poor;
No duties are imposed on the rich,
The rights of the poor are empty words,
We have languished long enough under domination,
Equality wants other laws:
“No rights without duties,” it says
“Equals, there are no duties without rights.”

Hideous in their apotheosis,
The kings of mines and rails,
Have they ever done aught
But rob from labor?
In the safes of that gang
What is created is smelted,
By decreeing that they turn it over
The people only want what is their due.

Kings intoxicated us with smoke,
Peace among us, war on tyrants!
Let’s apply the strike to armies,
Rifle butts raised on high and breaking ranks.
And if they insist, those cannibals,
On making heroes of us,
They’ll soon learn that our bullets
Are for our own generals.

Workers, farmers, we are
The great party of the workers,
The earth belongs only to men,
Idlers can go someplace else.
How many on our flesh eat their fill?
But if the ravens, the vultures
One morning disappeared
The sun would shine still!

’Tis the final conflict
Let us unite and tomorrow,
The International
Will be the human race

— Paris, June 1871

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