A Workers Anthology (1935)

A Workers Anthology transcript

This anthology is smaller, less ambitious and was intended for a different readership than A Test of Poetry. All but five of the 38 selections were subsequently incorporated into A Test of Poetry, using the same passages taken from longer poems, although occasionally the versions in the later work are more complete or extended.

Why A Workers Anthology remained unpublished or even if LZ attempted to have it published is unclear, but it is evident that he intended the work as an assertion of aesthetic as well as political value in response to more typical Leftist anthologies of worker and protest poetry published in the late 1920s and 1930s. The poems and passages of A Workers Anthology are dated and presented in chronological order, and the brief preface states that the anthology depicts the manifestation of “revolutionary struggle and ideas” in excellent poetry from the past 2000 years. Ten of the selections have short notes appended, usually drawing out the protest dimensions of the poems.

Apparently the only known typescript of A Workers Anthology survives among the Basil Bunting papers at the University of Durham and appears to be a complete work with hand corrections by LZ. A good many of the corrections on the typescript are strictly matters of presentation (e.g. avoiding the breaking of stanzas at the bottom of pages or a preference for using the small letter l rather than capital I to represent the number 1, which was commonly absent on typewriters), which may suggest LZ had in mind producing a mimeograph edition as he did with First Half of “A”-9 (1940).

The transcription offered here follows the presentation indicated by the typescript with only occasional adjustments for the sake of consistency. As is often the case in LZ’s early manuscripts, as well as published versions, the punctuation of titles is inconsistent (use of quotations, italics or solely capitalization), which have been regularized here, dropping quotation marks and putting longer works in italics whereas the typescript more or less indiscriminately puts all titles in quotation marks. I have replaced lines of hyphens indicating a break in the text with three asterisks since LZ sometimes indicates this is his preference but did not consistently mark these for change throughout. As is often the case with early typescripts, especially with carbon copies, certain letters are easily confused; particularly o/e/c and e/s. There are at times minor differences between the texts of A Workers Anthology and the same texts used in A Test of Poetry, although it is possible some of these are due to the typist (LZ himself never typed). I have made one textual change: in the note to Shakespeare’s “The Phoenix and the Turtle,” the typescript has “nationals/e” whereas sense dictates this should be “rationale.” Also in the same note I have added a clarification of the reference to Marx’s Capital, since the chapter designations in the edition LZ used (Everyman’s Library, translated by Eden and Cedar Paul) are somewhat different from current standard editions.

The contents of A Workers Anthology are as follows with references to their appearances in A Test of Poetry:

43 B.C.-A.D. 17 Ovid, from Amorum III, Elegia 7, trans. Christopher Marlowe (TP 51)
43 B.C.-A.D.17 Ovid, from Metamorphoses, Book I, trans. Arthur Golding (TP 7)
c.1308-1318 From a MS. in Anglo-Irish Dialect [“Lollai, lollai, litil child”] (TP 43-44, 102)
c.1369 Geoffrey Chaucer, from “Nero,” The Monkes Tale, The Canterbury Tales
c.1440 possibly by Richard Rolle of Hampole [“Erthe out of erthe is wondirly wroghte”] (TP 14)
c.1465 Francois Villon, “Epistle in Form of a Ballad to his Friends,” trans. A.C. Swinburne (TP 15-16)
15th Century God be with trewthe where he be! / I wolde he were in this cuntre” (TP 133)
15th Century “Carol” [“A Lyke-Wake Dirge”: “This ae nighte …”] (TP 13)
15th Century Ballad – “Robin Hood Rescuing Three Squires” (TP 19)
15th Century  also from “Robin Hood Rescuing Three Squires” (TP 19-20)
1601 William Shakespeare, from “The Phoenix and the Turtle” (TP 22)
1601 John Donne, “The Progresse of the Soul,” Stanzas XXXIII & XXXIV
1607 William Shakespeare, King Lear IV, i (TP 21)
1607 William Shakespeare, King Lear IV, vi (TP 116)
1607 William Shakespeare, King Lear III, iv (TP 139)
1607 William Shakespeare, King Lear IV, vi (TP 139)
1608-1651 Thomas Fuller, “The Faithful Minister” (TP 77)
1647 John Fletcher, from The Beggar’s Bush (TP 27)
17th Century Anonymous, “Hic jacet John Shorthose” (TP 27)
1648 Robert Herrick, “To Keep a True Lent” (TP 79-80)
1662 Samuel Butler, from Hudibras (TP 133-134)
c.1670 John Wilmot (Earl of Rochester), from “Ode to Nothing” (TP 30)
c.1670 John Wilmot (Earl of Rochester), from “A Letter from Artemisa in the Town, To Chloe in the Country” (TP 82-83)
1687 Philip Ayres, “On a Fair Beggar” (TP 136)
1784 Robert Burns, from “Holy Willie’s Prayer” (TP 34-35)
1786 Robert Burns, from “Address to the Devil” (TP 34)
1794 William Blake, “The Little Vagabond,” Songs of Experience
1794 William Blake, “London,” Songs of Experience
1795 Robert Burns, “Is there for honest Poverty” [“For a’ that, and a’ that] (TP 88-89)
1810 George Crabbe, from The Borough, XVIII [“Here is no pavement … dubious aid”] (TP 135)
1840 Thomas Hood, from “Miss Kilmansegg and her Precious Leg” (TP 10)
1841 Robert Browning, from Pippa Passes Act II (TP 39, 95)
c.1846 Walter Savage Landor, “Epithalamium” (TP 93-94)
1865 H.C. Work, “The year of Jubilee” (TP 42, 102)
1868-9 Robert Browning, from The Ring and the Book II (TP 93)
1830-1886 Emily Dickinson (first published, 1929), “Revolution is the pod / Systems rattle”
1898-1918 Guillaume Apollinaire, an arrangement from the poems, trans. L.Z.
1919 André Salmon, an arrangement from Prikaz, trans. L.Z. 


Additional Notes:
• LZ includes Catullus CXV in the prose translation of F.W. Cornish (TP 10) in a note comparing it with the selection from Thomas Hood’s “Miss Killmansegga and Her Precious Leg.”
• In a note to a song in Anglo-Irish dialect, “Lollai, lollai, litil child,” LZ makes comparison with the African-American song, “Forty-leben days gone by,” also included in TP 150. The source of this latter song was an article in New Masses by Lawrence Gellert (1898-1979), an important pioneering collector of black folk music, that includes various song texts: “Negro Songs of Protest,” New Masses (Jan. 1931): 6-8. LZ probably found this song in New Masses, but possibly via EP who included some of the songs from Gellert’s article in his anthology Profile (1932), in which LZ also appeared.
• Snippets from both the John Donne and Emily Dickinson selections, neither of which made it into TP, appear in “A”-8 (50.11, 50.12-13 and 51.30). LZ originally intended to include this Dickinson poem in A Test of Poetry, but was unwilling to pay the fee requested by her estate. The same passage of “A”-8.50.8-18 also incorporates pieces from the following included in both A Workers Anthology and TP: “Lollai, lollai, litil child,” Catullus CXV, Robert Burns’ “For a’ that and a’ that,” H.C. Work’s “The year of Jubliee” and the ballad, “Robin Hood Rescuing Three Squires.” 
• The arrangement of poems from Apollinaire selects lines and short passages from six poems, which appear in The Writing of Guillaume Apollinaire. LZ had published all of these translations in a somewhat larger arrangement as “Sequence from The Writing of Guillaume Apollinaire” in The Columbia Review (1934), and a few of the same selections show up in Arise, Arise (23, 25, 26).
• The “arrangement” of poems from André Salmon’s “Prikaz” is a selection from the same passages in the same order as those that appeared in René Taupin’s essay, “Three Poems by André Salmon,” translated by LZ and published in the “Objectivists” issue of Poetry 37.5 (Feb. 1931): 289-293 and 37.6 (March 1931): 333-339 (the passages from “Prikaz” appear on pages 292-293, 334-337 respectively).