Socialism and the fire of Spring
Mankind has always found in the return of Spring an occasion for rejoicing. Poets, musicians, artists have led the rout, and all have joined in the great re-awakening. The return of Proserpine finds its counterpart in most of the mythologies of our primitive ancestors. Even now when experience and the advance of knowledge have dethroned the deities, we love to poetically picture Nature’s great renaissance as the return of a fresh and blooming goddess, garlanded with flowers and heralded by music. Francis Thompson sings :
”Cast wide the folding doorways of the East,
For now is light increased !”
* * *
“For lo, unto her house
Spring is come home with her world
And all things are made young with young desires.”
Nine hundred years ago Omar, the astronomer-poet of Persia, felt the spell, and amid the enchanted rose gardens of Mishapur, called :
“Come, fill the cup, and in the fire of Spring,
The winter garment of repentance fling.”
Shakespeare with his—
“When daisies pied and violets blue, And lady smocks all silver white,
And cuckoo-buds of yellow hue Do paint the meadows with delight.”
And Thomas Nash—
“Spring, the sweet Spring, is the year’s pleasant king.”
all join in the chorus of welcome down the ages. And yet there is something about Francis Thompson—
“All things are made young with young desires.”
Here, perhaps, we have the secret of perpetual youth—to retain our young desires. It is admittedly difficult to keep the fires of hope burning through an English winter, especially when followed by a summer like the last one. It is difficult to retain the potency and urge of youth through years of working-class apathy. But the death of desire is the death of oneself. When we cease to hope, and cease to work that our hope may be realised, there is nothing to do but wait for the undertaker.
This is not a lay sermon, a dissertation on Spring poetry, nor a call to repentance. It is intended to be a call to all who hold our views to take a leaf from the book of Mother Nature, and with the coming of Spring to renew their youth with young desires, and fling themselves into the battle once more. We are convinced there are thousands who are with us in everything but actual membership. These we would ask to remember that our fight is their fight, that our aim is utterly unrealisable without them. Socialism is not a system that will come of itself. It must be attained. We are convinced there is only one possible method of attainment—that of the Socialist Party of Great Britain. Our method is the steady education of the workers in the principles of Socialism and nothing less, and their democratic consent to every stage in the realisation of our object. It is not sufficient to label oneself a Socialist, or merely consider oneself a sympathiser and leave it at that.
“Lo ! the Bird of Time is on the wing.”
It is help we want, and that badly. We are anxious to make this our record year. We want to increase the size and reduce the price of our paper. We have a dozen pamphlets we should like to publish. We want funds to enable our speakers to operate thoroughly, and often, over a wider and wider area. We want to train and equip new speakers and writers. We want—we want a hundred things; but chiefly and above all we want Socialism. We shall not get Socialism until we get you. If you are thoroughly convinced of the desirability of Socialism and the logic of our method of attaining to it, your place is with us. Do not come in because you think something should be done for the suffering poor. Do not come in because you have a nice kind heart and feel charitably disposed towards your fellows. We are engaged in a grim struggle. The enemy will not go down before an onslaught of sentiment. Come in clear-eyed and clear-headed, knowing that you are part of the working class, knowing that your class is a subject class, held in bondage by a parasitic useless class, small but politically powerful; knowing that you can wrest that power from them, and then—and only then—can remould our world, “nearer to the heart’s desire.” Be “made young with young desires” and join the revolutionary army.
W. T. H.
(Socialist Standard, April 1925)