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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

The Watchword


"Take and Hold."

0, hear ye the watchword of Labor.

The slogan of they who'd be free,

That no more to any enslaver

Must Labor bend suppliant knee.

That we on whose shoulders are borne

The pomp and the pride of the great,

Whose toil they repaid with their scorn,

Should meet it at last with our hate.


Then send it afar on the breeze, boys,

That watchword, the grandest we've known,

That Labor must rise from its knees, boys,

And take the broad earth as its own.

Aye, we who oft won by our valor,

Empire for our rulers and lords,

Yet knelt in abasement and squalor

To that we had made by our swords.

Now valor with worth will be blending,

When, answering Labor's command,

We arise from the earth and ascending

To manhood, for Freedom take stand.


Then out from the field and the city,

From workshop, from mill and from mine,

Despising their wrath and their pity,

We workers are moving in line.

To answer the watchword and token

Nor pause till our fetters we've broken,

And conquered the spoiler and drone.


James Connolly, from Songs of Freedom 1907, written for the Belfast Dock Strike of 1907

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