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Chinaman, Laundryman

Language: English

Don't call me "man"! 
I am worse than a slave.

Wash! Wash!
Why can I wash away 
The dirt of others' clothes 
But not the hatred of my heart?
My skin is yellow, 
Does my yelow skin color the clothes?
Why do you pay me less
For the same work?
Clever boss!
You know 
How to scatter the seeds of hatred
Among your ignorant slaves. 

Iron! Iron! 
Why can I smooth away
The wrinkle 
Of others' dresses 
But not the miseries of my heart?
Why should I come to Arnerica
To wash clothes? 
Do you think "Chinamen" in China
Wear no dresses?

I came to America 
Three days after my marriage.
When can I see her again? 
Only the almighty "Dollar" knows! 

Dry! Dry! 
Why do clothes dry,
But not my tears?
I work 
Twelve hours a day,
He pays 
Fifteen dollars a week.
My boss says,
Go back to China, 
If you don't feel satisfied!
Unlimited hours of toil: 
Two silver dollars a week,
You can find a job."
Thank you, Boss, 
For you remind me.
I know 
Bosses are robbers everywhere!
Chinese boss says:
"You Chinaman,
Me Chinaman, 
Come work for me --
Work for your fellow countryman!
By the way, 
You 'Wong', me 'Wong' -- 
Do we not belong to same family?
Ha! ha! 
We are cousins!
O yes! 
You 'Hai Shan', me 'Hai Shan', 
Do we not come from same district?
O come work for me;
I will treat you better!"
GET away from here!
What is the difference, 
When you comea to exploit me?

Don't call me "Chinaman"!
Yes, I am a "Laundryman"!
The workingman! 
Don't call me "Chinaman"!
I am the Worldman! 
["The International Soviet
Shall be his human race!"]1

All you workingmen!
Here is the brush
Made of [Marxism]2
Here is the soap
Made of [Leninism]3.
Let us all 
wash with the [blood]4!
Let us all 
Press with the iron!
Then we shall have
A clean world!

View original text (without footnotes)
1: not set by Crawford-Seeger.
2: Crawford-Seeger: "study"
3: Crawford-Seeger: "action"
4: Crawford-Seeger: "brush"

Submitted by John Versmoren


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

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