Three Poems of Spain by Bill Harrington

June 14, 2019

The Volunteer for Liberty, V2, no. 33, October 6, 1938



Francisco Franco, fascist chief,

Of him is the story told,

His “justice” fills the Aragon hills,

His curse is manifold:

He’s taken toll of the North and South

The gore it reached far;

And they tell the tale of his “charity”

In the ring at Badajoz.


Francisco Franco, fascist chief,

Of the North and South is told:

That the North and South shall open their mouth

To a People’s flag unrolled:

When the big guns speak to an Aragon peak

And his foreign confreres flee –

Ye have heard the song “How long? How long?”

How long to your victory?



I wandered thro’ the tortured grove

Where’midst the ruined trees we drove

The fiends of war to final death;

That they might give to you and me

Heritage of a world set free.

And there beneath a twisted limb,

Beneath whose scars life crossed the brim;

There beside a riven stem

Alone which marks the grave of men

Who gave their lives to see unfurled

The standard of Man in a better world

There I sat and the vision rose,

A glorious galaxy of those

Whose youth and hopes were sacrifice

To dreams they had of a paradise

To brave ideals of a virtuous earth

Their years were shed to bring the birth

Of a boundless you that will amply repay

The everything that they gave away.



The barren soil grows rich

With Life’s red blood,

And fertile peace shall hide

This black terrain;

Youth and joy shall thunder

As in Flood,

To drawn the dust of war,

The weeds of pain.

And as the sun comes up,

And reddened skies

Reflect the glory of

The sacrificed;

A thousand voices shall

In echo rise.

To greet this new-born land

In vict’rys tryst.


William James Harrington was a British volunteer.  Borne in London in 1915 he worked as a journalist before volunteering to serve in the International Brigades.  Harrington arrived in Spain on January 21, 1937.  While in Spain he wrote a number of poems, often signing them as W. J. H.  Harrington was repatriated in October 1938. For additional information see International Brigade Memorial Trust, The Volunteers, data base.


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