‘Decree to the Army of Art’ (1918) by Vladimir Mayakovsky from The New Masses. Vol. 7 No. 9. February, 1932.

‘Decree to the Army of Art’ (1918) by Vladimir Mayakovsky, translated by Joseph Freeman from The New Masses. Vol. 7 No. 9. February, 1932.

They brag, the old men’s brigades,
Of the same old wearisome goals.
To the barricades!
Barricades of hearts and souls.
He alone is a Communist true
Who burns the bridge for retreat:
Stop marching slowly,
Futurists, Into the future, leap!
Engines are easy to build,
Wind the wheels and they go:
But hurl your song like a bomb,
There’s a railway depot to blow!
Pile up sound on sound,
March on
With whistle and song;
Loud ringing letters abound
To roll
Your tongue.
Trousers creased at the edge —
That’s the easy officer’s way;
All the soviets won’t budge the troops
Unless the musicians play.
Drag pianos into the street,
Let drums rend the air asunder,
Whether drums or pianos beat,
Let tumult be,
Let thunder!
What good to slave in a shop,
To soil your face and growl,
Why stare at the joy of others,
Flapping your eyes like an owl?
Enough of pennywise talk,
Sweep the old from the heart who dares!
The streets shall be our brushes,
Our palettes shall be the squares!
The thousand pages Book of Time,
Revolution’s song shall know;
Into the streets, Futurists,
Drummers and poets go!

The New Masses was the continuation of Workers Monthly which began publishing in 1924 as a merger of the ‘Liberator’, the Trade Union Educational League magazine ‘Labor Herald’, and Friends of Soviet Russia’s monthly ‘Soviet Russia Pictorial’ as an explicitly Communist Party publication, but drawing in a wide range of contributors and sympathizers. In 1927 Workers Monthly ceased and The New Masses began. A major left cultural magazine of the late 1920s and early 1940s, the early editors of The New Masses included Hugo Gellert, John F. Sloan, Max Eastman, Mike Gold, and Joseph Freeman. Writers included William Carlos Williams, Theodore Dreiser, John Dos Passos, Upton Sinclair, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Dorothy Parker, Dorothy Day, John Breecher, Langston Hughes, Eugene O’Neill, Rex Stout and Ernest Hemingway. Artists included Hugo Gellert, Stuart Davis, Boardman Robinson, Wanda Gag, William Gropper and Otto Soglow. Over time, the New Masses became narrower politically and the articles more commentary than comment. However, particularly in it first years, New Masses was the epitome of the era’s finest revolutionary cultural and artistic traditions.

PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/new-masses/1932/v07n09-feb-1932-New-Masses.pdf

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