First published as the introduction to Songs of Freedom by Irish Authors, Dublin 1907.
Republished in Owen Dudley Edwards & Bernard Ransom (eds), James Connolly: Selected Political Writings, New York 1974.
Transcription & HTML Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
This little book of revolutionary songs is published for a twofold purpose. First, it is in response to the belief of the Editor that no revolutionary movement is complete without its poetical expression. If such a movement has caught hold of the imagination of the masses they will seek a vent in song for the aspirations, the fears and the hopes, the loves and the hatreds engendered by the struggle. Until the movement is marked by the joyous, defiant, singing of revolutionary songs, it lacks one of the most distinctive marks of a popular revolutionary movement, it is the dogma of a few, and not the faith of the multitude. In this belief this small bouquet of songs, culled from a very limited garden, is offered until some one with greater means shall present to the American Working Class a more suitable collection, drawn not from the store of one nation alone, but from the Socialist poetry of the World. The propagandist effect of such a volume of songs with their proper musical setting, would be simply incalculable.
The second purpose of this volume may be readily guessed by a glance at its contents. It will be seen that every song herein contained was written by an Irishman.
This is in no spirit of insularity, but rather is meant as an encouragement to other Irishmen and women, to take their part and do their share in the upbuilding of the revolutionary movement of the Working Class. Most of these songs were written in Ireland, by men actually engaged in the revolutionary struggle of their time, whatever ruggedness may attach to their numbers is due to the fact that they were born in the stress and strain of the fight, and not in the scholarly seclusion of the study.
In conclusion, if this venture meets approval, we will carry our next into the field of recitative poetry, where a rich Irish harvest awaits the gleaner.
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Last updated on 11.8.2003