A Song For The Spanish Anarchists

This Herbert Read poem was in his 1939 anthology Poems For Spain edited by Stephen Spender and John Lehmann.
Many of the poems in the book are by writers who had volunteered in the International Brigades to support the Spanish Republican government against General Franco’s troops, including John Cornford and Charles Donnelly, who were killed in combat. Spender and Lehmann’s introduction stresses the crucial role of poets in the international anti-fascist struggle, and expresses their desire for a new genre of popular poetry:

In a world where poetry seems to have been abandoned, become the exalted medium of a few specialists, or the superstition of backward peoples, this awakening of a sense of the richness of a to-morrow with poetry, is as remarkable as the struggle for liberty itself…

A Song for the Spanish Anarchists

The golden lemon is not made
but grows on a green tree:
A strong man with his crystal eyes
is a man born free.

The oxen pass under the yoke
and the blind are led at will:
But a man born free has a path of his own
and a house on the hill.

And men are men who till the land
and women are women who weave:
Fifty men own the lemon grove
and no man is a slave.

Herbert Read

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