I bring no songs of rolling drums
Of pennons flying gaily
I sing of filth and dirty slums
Gaunt man with hunger crazy
Canticles, not of virtue bright, nor holy austere lives.
I chronicle consumption’s blight
And the haggard face of wives
Who gaze on children, pale and wan
Who see no flowers nor hear birds song.
I see no beauty rave in dreams of justice, unto those
Who keep the wheels of old earth moving
And oil them with their woes
Of burning towns and brimstone red
A phoenix from the ashes dead
Our city, truth and justice wed arise.
I see this old bad order die
In a great swift blaze of fire
A structure, clear and mighty high
Born in its funeral pyre
Worker, know the world’s for thee
Were thou to raise the servile knee
From off the ground.
Published in The Daily Worker in 1939, when Behan was 16.