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Saturday, October 01, 2005

Tomorrow belongs to the People


Ignorant
Illegitimate,
Hungry sometimes,
Living in tenement yards
Dying in burial societies
The people is a lumbering giant
That holds history in his hand.

The efficient engineers dam the conservancies
Design the canals and the sluices
The chemists extract their sugar to the ton.

The millers service the padi into the rice
And the heavy grey lorries and unpunctual ships
Bring ground provisions from the farms

But always the people is hero, a vast army
Making the raw material for skill and machines to work upon.

They frequent the cinemas
Throng the races and the dance halls
Pocket small wages with a sweating brow
And ragged clothes;
But it is their ignorant, illegimate hands
That shape history.

They grow the cane and the rice and the ground provisions
They dig the gold and the diamonds and the bauxite
They cut the forests and build the bridges and the roads and the wall to keep out the sea.

History is theirs,
Because history doesn't belong
To the kings and the governors and the legislature.
History basically
Is the work men do with their hands
When they battle with the earth
And grow food and dig materials
For other people's profits and other people's skill

And other people know it too.

The labour leaders and the politicians
Shake fists to rouse the rabble
But that giant, the people,
They say yes or no to the proposition.

Chinese running their groceries and their laundry places
Portuguese controlling dry goods and the pawnshops
Indians saving every half of a shilling
Cutting in canefields
Breaking their backs to grow rice

Africans tramping aback for the provisions
Running the falls "topside" for fabulous diamonds,
Becoming teachers the policemen, and the Civil Servants

They are all heroes,
They make history
They are the power of the land.

And the women work patiently along with the men
And look after the children as best they can.

And the children grow
Force their way out of the slums and into the professions
And stand up in the legislature.

To-day they hope
But to-morrow belongs to the people.
To-morrow they will put power behind their brow
And get skill in their hands

Tomorrow
They will make a hammer to smash the slums
And build the schools

Like a River, the people hold history in their hands
And To-morrow belongs to them.

(A. J. Seymour in
A Treasure of Guyanese Poetry)

Posted by jebratt :: Saturday, October 01, 2005 :: 0 comments

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