The Legacy by James Connolly

“Thy father is a poor man,” — mark well what that may mean,

On the tablets of thy memory that truth write bright and clean,

The father’s lot it was to toil from earliest boyhood on,

And know his latent energies for a master’s profit drawn.

Or else, ill-starred, to wander round and huckster-like to vend

His precious store of brain and brawn to all whom fate may send

Across his path with gold enough to purchase labor’s power,

To turn it into gold again, and fructify the hour

With sweat and blood of toiling slaves like unto us, my son;

Aye, through our veins since earliest days, ’tis poor man’s blood has run. . .

Treasure ye in your inmost heart this legacy of hate

For those who on the poor man’s back have climbed to high estate,

The lords of land and capital, the slave lords of our age,

Who of this smiling earth of ours have made for us a cage.

And howsoe’er you earn your wage, and wheresoe’er you go,

Be it beneath the tropic heat or ‘mid the northern snow,

Or closely pent in factory walls, or burrowing in the mine,

Or scorching in the furnace hell of steamers ‘cross the brine.

The men and women of your class, tell them their wrongs and yours—

Plant in their hearts that hatred deep that suffers and endures,

And treasuring up each deed of wrong, each scornful word and look,

Inscribe it in the memory, as others in a book.

And wait and watch through galling years the ripening of time,

Yet deem to strike before that hour were worse than folly—crime!

     James Connolly was a working class leader of the Irish Citizen’s Army who lost his life in the Easter Rebellion of 1916 against British settler colonialism in Ireland. He was a revolutionary Marxist and editor of “The Worker’s Republic,” who challenged anti-Black racism among Irish-American workers in the US.


If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.