Why I am a Socialist

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Why I am a Socialist

I have heard the child-slaves weeping when the world was fair and bright,
Heard them begging, begging, begging for the playgrounds and the light!
I have seen the "statesman" holding all save truth a vested right,
And the priest and preacher fighting In the legions of the 'Night.
I have seen the queens of fashion In their jeweled pride arrayed,
Ruby crowned and splendid,—rubies of a baby's life blood made.
Richer than the gems of nature, of a stranger, deeper shade.
On their snow-white bosoms quivered as the dames of fashion prayed.
Then I looked into the dungeons where the brute men cringe and crawl—
Men to every high thought blinded—men who were not men at all—
And my eyes glanced upward to the men whom we "successful" call.
And the Beast was in their foreheads and their thrones about to fall.
And I've seen my father lying on his death-bed like a beast,
In his poverty forsaken, he a Southern soldier priest:
Seen his broken body tremble as the pulse of living ceased.
And his soul go outward, moaning, as the red sun lit the east.
And I've seen my little mother on her death-bed weep and moan
For the babies she was leaving In the great world all alone;
Heard her loving spirit, seeking something to atone—
How she feared the god of hunger! How she feared the heart of stone:
And you talk to me "religion" and "rebellion" you "deplore,"
You whose souls have never anguished at the death watch of the poor
You who rape the starving millions and yet grasp for more and more,
Can you blame us if we curse you when the beggar's crumbs you throw?
In these wild and frightful moments I have felt my reason reel,
Felt an impulse like the tiger's over all my being steal:
Felt It would not be a murder if my hand the blow could deal
That would brand upon your temple the death angel's mark and seal.
Then I heard a voice crying, "Workers of the world, unite!"
And the vanguard of the Marxians broke upon my hopeless sight.
High above them, proudly waving, streamed the blood-red flag of Right,
As they faced the hosts of Darkness and the high priests of the Night.
Thoughts of murder vanished from me and the anarch ceased to reign,
For the scheme of life unraveled and, at last, God's work seemed sane,
And I took my place beside them, there upon Truth's battle plain—
And I stand beside them fighting till the world we lose or gain.

Covington Hall.


  • Covington Hall, “Why I am a Socialist,” The International Socialist Review 5, no. 6 (December 1904): 347.