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Bars and Shadows: The Prison Poems of Ralph Chaplin

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By: (1887-1961)

Ralph Chaplin and many other prominent members of the Industrial Workers of the World were imprisoned under the Espionage Act of 1917 as the United States entered World War I. As with Socialist presidential candidate Eugene V. Debs, these activists were accused of undermining recruiting efforts and the draft - even of encouraging soldiers to desert. Though they never gained the universal popularity of his anthem "Solidarity Forever," the poems and songs in this volume - composed during his four years in prison - represent the defiant attitude of a true rebel in the face of persecution.

First Page:

BARS AND SHADOWS

THE PRISON POEMS OF RALPH CHAPLIN

With an introduction By Scott Nearing

1922

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION MOURN NOT THE DEAD TAPS NIGHT IN THE CELL HOUSE PRISON SHADOWS PRISON REVEILLE PRISON NOCTURNE THE WARRIOR WIND TO FREEDOM THE VISION MAKER DISTANCES PHANTOMS SEVEN LITTLE SPARROWS SALAAM! THE WEST IS DEAD UP FROM YOUR KNEES! THE EUNUCH I. W. W. PRISON SONG TO FRANCE VILLANELLE WESLEY EVEREST THE INDUSTRIAL HERETICS BLOOD AND WINE THE RED GUARD THE RED FEAST THE GIRLS WHO SANG FOR US TO EDITH SONG OF SEPARATION TO MY LITTLE SON ESCAPED! RETROSPECT

INTRODUCTION

I.

Ralph Chaplin is serving a twenty year sentence in the Federal Penitentiary, not as a punishment for any act of violence against person or property, but solely for the expression of his opinions.

Chaplin, together with a number of fellow prisoners who were sentenced at the same time, was accused of taking part in a conspiracy with intent to obstruct the prosecution of the war. To be sure the Government did not produce a single witness to show that the war had been obstructed by their activities; but it was argued that the agitation which they had carried on by means of speeches, articles, pamphlets, meetings and organizing campaigns, would quite naturally hamper the country in its war work... Continue reading book >>


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