The March of the Workers
from Willaim Morris' Chants for Socialists


Vida Dutton Scudder, in her autobiography On Journey (New York, Dutton, c1937), describes life among a small band of Boston radicals just prior to the first World War:

"With gusto we used to sing , at Denison House or elsewhere, William Morris's grand 'Chants for Socialists'.

Hear a word, a word in season, for the day is drawing nigh
When the Cause shall call upon us, some to live and some to die.

"Our definitions of the cause were uncertain, but our emotion was genuine. Again, 'The March of the Workers' thrilled us . . . Not quite equal to the International? Perhaps, yet it had a splendid swing. I was saddened the other day to find a band of students and workers singing other words to the old tune; they had never heard of Morris! Sic transit."

 

The March of the Workers

(Air: "John Brown")

  What is this the sound and rumor? What is this that all men hear,
  Like the wind in hollow valleys when the storm is drawing near,
  Like the rolling of the ocean in the eventide of fear?
                            'Tis the people marching on.

  Whither go they, and whence come they? What are these of whom ye tell?
  In what country are they dwelling 'twixt the gates of heaven and hell?
  Are they thine or mine for money? Will they serve a master well?
                             Still the rumor's marching on.

         Hark the rolling of the thunder!
         Lo the sun! and lo thereunder,
         Riseth wrath, and hope, and wonder,
         And the host comes marching on.


  Forth they come from grief and torment; on they wend toward health and mirth,
  All the wide world is their dwelling, every corner of the earth.
  Buy them, sell them for thy service! Try the bargain what 'tis worth,
                             For the days are marching on.

  These are they who build thy houses, weave thy raiment, win thy wheat,
  Smooth the rugged, fill the barren, turn the bitter into sweet,
  All for thee this day -- and ever. What reward for them is meet?
                            Till the host comes marching on.

         Hark the rolling of the thunder!
         Lo the sun! and lo thereunder,
         Riseth wrath, and hope, and wonder,
         And the host comes marching on.


  Many a hundred years passed over have they labored deaf and blind;
  Never tidings reached their sorrow, never hope their toil might find.
  Now at last they've heard and hear it, and the cry comes down the wind,
                             And their feet are marching on.

  O ye rich men hear and tremble! for with words the sound is rife:
  "Once for you and death we labored; changed henceforward is the strife.
  "We are men and we shall battle for the world of men and life:
                              And our host is marching on."

         Hark the rolling of the thunder!
         Lo the sun! and lo thereunder,
         Riseth wrath, and hope, and wonder,
         And the host comes marching on.


  "Is it war then? Will ye perish as the dry wood in the fire?
  "Is it peace? Then be ye of us, let your hope be our desire.
  "Come and live! for life awaketh, and the world shall never tire;
                                And hope is marching on."

  "On we march then, we the workers, and the rumor that ye hear
  "Is the splendid sound of battle and deliv'rance drawing near;
  "For the hope of every creature is the banner that we bear,
                               And the world is marching on.

         Hark the rolling of the thunder!
         Lo the sun! and lo thereunder,
         Riseth wrath, and hope, and wonder,
         And the host comes marching on.


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