About revolution


Strange fruit was originally a poem written by a Jewish school teacher, Abel Meerpool, after seeing a photograph of a lynching in a civil-rights magazine. The photo was a shot of 2 black men hanging from a tree after they had been lynched in Marion, Indiana on August 7, 1930. The two men are the “Strange Fruit.”

Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.

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Tout est affaire de décor
Changer de lit changer de corps
À quoi bon puisque c’est encore
Moi qui moi-même me trahis
Moi qui me traîne et m’éparpille
Et mon ombre se déshabille
Dans les bras semblables des filles
Où j’ai cru trouver un pays. (more…)

Now that a revolution really is needed, those who were fervent are quite cool.

While a country murdered and raped calls for help from the Europe which it had trusted, they yawn. (more…)

We were taken from the ore-bed and the mine,
   We were melted in the furnace and the pit—
We were cast and wrought and hammered to design,
   We were cut and filed and tooled and gauged to fit.
Some water, coal, and oil is all we ask,
   And a thousandth of an inch to give us play:
And now, if you will set us to our task,
   We will serve you four and twenty hours a day! (more…)

 

So hot then
red trucks loaded with
adults’ burning tongues
forward    forward again
disappearing down to the core of
resolve
escaped schoolchildren    pinching
screaming sparrows    rolling
toward hometown
Ah    the summer of the era
schools closed
theaters closed    weeds in parks
loudspeakers hanging over
basketball courts
a revolution   full blast in
Mandarin

(translated by John A. Crespi)

Far spread the moorey ground a level scene
Bespread with rush and one eternal green
That never felt the rage of blundering plough
Though centurys wreathed spring’s blossoms on its brow
Still meeting plains that stretched them far away
In uncheckt shadows of green brown, and grey
Unbounded freedom ruled the wandering scene
Nor fence of ownership crept in between
To hide the prospect of the following eye
Its only bondage was the circling sky
One mighty flat undwarfed by bush and tree
Spread its faint shadow of immensity
And lost itself, which seemed to eke its bounds
In the blue mist the horizon’s edge surrounds
Now this sweet vision of my boyish hours
Free as spring clouds and wild as summer flowers
Is faded all — a hope that blossomed free,
And hath been once, no more shall be
Inclosure came and trampled on the grave
Of labour’s rights and left the poor a slave
And memory’s pride ere want to wealth did bow
Is both the shadow and the substance now.

(opening lines from The Mores)

The night had sunk along the city,
It was a bleak and cheerless hour;
The wild-winds sung their solemn ditty
To cold, grey wall and blackened tower. (more…)

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