Do you know what it took to make May Day?

Do you know what it took to make May Day?
It wasn’t ribbons of pink and gold, red and blue.
It wasn’t the thump of clogs
And girls in summer dresses, circling round
A pole on a manicured village green.
It wasn’t May Queens and wet dreams
About an England of melting mists
And servile peasants forelock tugging
To Little Lord Exploiteroy.

Do you know what it took to make May Day?
It took class war in a Chicago Square,
Blood and hurt and broken bones.
That’s what it took to make May Day,
It took unions and socialists,
Anarchists and class fighters.
It took pickets and lock outs
And linked arms against every gutless, whining scab
Who crawled out of the sewer of profit and drudge.

Ah, I don’t hold a grudge,
Well, stuff it I do, for the many against the few,
The woman and man with a family to feed
In the face of shabby, corporate greed.
Do you know what it took to make May Day?
It took snapping banners and marching feet
Pounding class rhythms on the police-guarded street.
It took tribunes of peace,
Opponents of discrimination and hate.

Do you know what it took to make May Day?
It took men coughing up coal dust.
It took women dragging carts
With their children crawling behind
On stone-torn knees.
It took steel-scalded skin
And sun-tortured faces.
It took labour and toil
And profits from oil.
It took bankers’ crashes and mutineer lashes.

Do you know what it took to make May Day?
It took sabres slashing down at Peterloo,
Butchering people like you.
It took men fighting for the docker’s tanner,
Resistance in the form of a well-aimed spanner
Lodged in the throat of the capitalist beast.
It took sweat. It took spit
In the factory, dock, workplace and pit.
That’s what it took to make May Day.

Do you know what it takes to make May Day today?
It takes cash-strapped hospitals and book-starved schools
It takes the drumbeat of war, the threatened tramp
Of racists’ and fascists’ boots.
It takes struggle, those green and tender shoots.
It takes resistance and guts, the defence of hard won
Women’s rights, a cry of rage and Tory shites.
It takes an election called on May the Eighth
A socialist leader, a hope reborn
So rally today for that silver dawn

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