Sacco, Vanzetti

"Sacco Vanzetti" is the first song of Ruth Crawford Seeger's Two Ricercari. The poem, written by H. T. Tsiang, was published in Daily Worker on August 20, 1928.

Ferdinando Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were two Italian immigrants convicted of murder during an armed robbery in 1920 in Massachusetts. They were executed seven years later, and their trial and executions were surrounded in controversy. Historians today are still unsure of whether they were guilty or not. Many claim that the their trial was unfair. Tsiang's poem was published the year after their execution.

--Christie Finn

Date: 1932Composer: Ruth Crawford SeegerText: H. T. TsiangSong Collection: Two Ricercari

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Sacco, Vanzetti
by H. T. Tsiang

Fast! Fast!
One year has passed!
Dead! Dead!
You will never be reborn!
Who said
There will be a resurrection?
Why didn’t we see any of those gentlemen
Who were willing to take your places?
The real meaning of “death” —
You knew it.
Still you paid with your life for your class!
That was real sacrifice!

Look at your enemies.
They are fishing,
As ever.
It is an eternal disgrace to us all.

Before your death
Did not millions promise —
To do “this” or “that”
lf you should die?
One year has passed.
What about “this” and what about “that”?

Oh! They may refire the cold ashes of our two martyrs.
But they can never soften the murderer’s heart!
And the like?
Oh! They may expect the embraces of your dear mothers,
They can never get pardon from the blood-thirsty masters.

Have you ever seen sheep end pigs
Being dragged to slaughter?
How pitifully they shriek!
How terribly they tremblel
Yet men enjoy their delicious flesh
Just the same!
Sheep! Pigs! Foreigners! Workers!
Your sweat is fertile,
Your blood is sweet,
Your meat is fresh!

Oh, Vanzetti!
You did say:
“I wish to forgive some people for what they are now doing to me”.
Certainly, you can forgive them as you like,
But you are the Wop, the fish peddler, the worker,
And haven’t anything in the bank.
lsn’t it a great insult
To say “forgive” to your honorable master?

Oh, Sacco!
You did say:
“Long live anarchy”,
But you should not forget,
That when you climb up to heaven
You must use the ladder!

Oh Martyrs!
Dead! Dead!
You are dead,
Never, never
To live again.
Fast! Fast!
One year has passed!
But years and years,
Years are piling up immortal bricks
Of your lofty monument.

Oh martyrs!
Look at the autumn flowers:
They are dying!
Dying! Dying!
The trees, the roots from which
The flowers are coming*
Never, never die!
When the spring comes
We shall again see the pretty flowers
Saluting the warm sun,
Wrestling with the mild wind
and kissing the charming butterflies.

Oh martyrs!
Dead, dead! You are dead!
Your human tree and your human root
Are budding,

Listen to the war cries of your living brothers!
This is the incense
We are burning
To you.

* Crawford changes “coming” to “blooming”

Sheet Music

"Sacco, Vanzetti" from Two Ricercare

Composer(s): Ruth Crawford Seeger

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