Chant for May Day by Langston Hughes (1938)

To be read by a Worker with, for background, the rhythmic waves of rising and re-rising Mass Voices, multiplying like the roar of the sea.

WORKER: The first of May;

When the flowers break through the earth,

When the sap rises in the trees,

When the birds come back from the South.


Be like the flowers,

10 VOICES: Bloom in the strength of your unknown power,

20 VOICES: Grow out of the passive earth,

40 VOICES: Grow strong with UNION,

All hands together—

To beautify this hour, this spring,

And all the springs to come

50 VOICES: Forever for the workers!

WORKER: Workers!

10 VOICES: Be like the sap, rising in the trees,

20 VOICES: Strengthening each branch,

40 VOICES: No part neglected—

50 VOICES: Reaching all the world.

WORKER: All workers:

10 VOICES: White workers,

10 OTHERS: Black workers,

10 OTHERS: Yellow workers,

10 OTHERS: Workers in the islands of the sea—

50 VOICES: Life is everywhere for you,

WORKER: When the sap of your own strength rises

50 VOICES Life is everywhere.

10 VOICES: May Day!

20 VOICES: May Day!

40 VOICES: May Day!

50 VOICES: When the earth is new.

WORKER: Proletarians of the world:

20 VOICES: Arise,

40 VOICES: Grow strong,

60 VOICES: Take Power,

80 VOICES: Till the forces of the earth are yours

100 VOICES: From this hour.

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