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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

Decree to the Army of Art

Lenin speaks, Hugo Gellert USA, November 1931

Decree to the Army of Art:

They brag, the old men's brigades,

Of the same old wearisome goals.


To the barricades!

Barricades of hearts and souls.

He alone is a Communist true

Who burns the bridge for retreat:

Stop marching slowly, Futurists,

Into the future, leap!

Engines are easy to build,

Wind the wheels and they go:

But hurl your song like a bomb,

There's a railway depot to blow!

Pile up sound on sound,

March on

With whistle and song;

Loud ringing letters abound

To roll


Your tongue.

Trousers creased at the edge—

That's the easy officer's way;

All the soviets won't budge the troops

Unless the musicians play.

Drag pianos into the street.

Let drums rend the air asunder,

Whether drums or pianos beat,

Let tumult be,

Let thunder!

What good to slave in a shop,

To soil your face and growl,

Why stare at the joy of others,

Flapping your eyes like an owl?

Enough of pennywise talk.

Sweep the old from the heart who dares!

The streets shall be our brushes.

Our palettes shall be the squares!

The thousand pages Book of Time,

Revolution's song shall know;

Into the streets, Futurists,

Drummers and poets go! - Vladimir Mayakovsky

This poem by the great Soviet poet (who died in 1930) was first translated into English in November, 1931



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