Monthly Archives: March 2014

Speech Choir: If I Were a Voice by Charles Mackay

If I Were A Voice

If I were a voice, a persuasive voice,
That could travel the wide world through,
I would fly on the beams of the morning light,
And speak to men with a gentle might,
And tell them to be true.
I’d fly, I’d fly, o’er land and sea,
Wherever a human heart might be,
Telling a tale, or singing a song,
In praise of the right – in blame of the wrong.

II.

If I were a voice, a consoling voice,
I’d fly on the wings of air,
The homes of Sorrow and Guilt I’d seek,
And calm and truthful words I’d speak
To save them from Despair.
I’d fly, I’d fly, o’er the crowded town,
And drop, like the happy sun-light, down
Into the hearts of suffering men,
And teach them to rejoice again.

III.

If I were a voice, a convincing voice,
I’d travel with the wind,
And whenever I saw the nations torn
By warfare, jealousy, or scorn,
If I were a voice, a convincing voice,
I ‘d travel with the wind,
And whenever I saw the nations torn
By warfare, jealousy, or scorn,
Or hatred of their kind,
I’d fly, I’d fly, on the thunder-crash,
And into their blinded bosoms flash;
And, all their evil thoughts subdued,
I’d teach them Christian Brotherhood.

IV.

If I were a voice, a pervading voice,
I’d seek the kings of Earth;
I’d find them alone on their beds at night
And whisper words that should guide them right
Lessons of priceless worth;
I’d fly more swift than the swiftest bird,
And tell them things they never heard
Truths which the ages for aye repeat
Unknown to the statesmen at their feet.

V.

If I were a voice, an immortal voice,
I’d speak in the people’s ear;
And whenever they shouted ‘Liberty,’
Without deserving to be free,
I’d make their error clear.
I’d fly, I’d fly, on the wings of day,
Rebuking wrong on my world-wide way,
And making all the Earth rejoice-
If I were a voice-an immortal voice.

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Speech Choir: REVERSE CREATION by Bernard Backman

In the end, we destroyed the heaven that was called Earth.
The Earth had been beautiful until our spirit movedover it and destroyed all things.And we said…Let there be darkness… and there was darkness. And we liked the darkness; so we called the darkness, Security.And we divided ourselves into races and religions and classes of society. And there was no morning and noevening on the seventh day before the end.
And we said…
Let there be a strong government to control us in our darkness. Let there be armies to control our bodies so thatwe may learn to kill one another neatly and efficiently in our darkness. And there was no evening and nomorning on the sixth day before the end.
And we said…
Let there be rockets and bombs to kill faster and easier; let there be gas chambers and furnaces to be morethorough. And there was no evening and no morning on the fifth day before the end.And we said…Let there be drugs and other forms of escape, for there is this constant annoyance – Reality – which is disturbingour comfort. And there was no evening and no morning on the fourth day before the end.
And we said…
Let there be divisions among the nations, so that we may know who is our common enemy. And there was noevening and no morning on the third day before the end.
And finally we said…
Let us create God in our image. Let some other God compete with us. Let us say that God thinks as we think,hates as we hate, and kills as we kill. And there was no morning and no evening on the second day before theend.
On the last day, there was a great noise on the face of the Earth. Fire consumed the beautiful globe, and therewas silence. The blackened Earth now rested to worship the one true God; and God saw all that we had done,and in the silence over the smoldering ruins… God wept.

Speech Choir: The Congo: BY VACHEL LINDSAY

I. Fat black bucks in a wine-barrel room,
Barrel-house kings, with feet unstable,
Sagged and reeled and pounded on the table,
Pounded on the table,
Beat an empty barrel with the handle of a broom,
Hard as they were able,
Boom, boom, BOOM,
With a silk umbrella and the handle of a broom,
Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, BOOM.
THEN I had religion, THEN I had a vision.
I could not turn from their revel in derision.
THEN I SAW THE CONGO, CREEPING THROUGH THE BLACK,
CUTTING THROUGH THE FOREST WITH A GOLDEN TRACK.
Then along that riverbank
A thousand miles
Tattooed cannibals danced in files;
Then I heard the boom of the blood-lust song
And a thigh-bone beating on a tin-pan gong.
And “BLOOD” screamed the whistles and the fifes of the warriors,
“BLOOD” screamed the skull-faced, lean witch-doctors,
“Whirl ye the deadly voo-doo rattle,
Harry the uplands,
Steal all the cattle,
Rattle-rattle, rattle-rattle,
Bing.
Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, BOOM,”
A roaring, epic, rag-time tune
From the mouth of the Congo
To the Mountains of the Moon.
Death is an Elephant,
Torch-eyed and horrible,
Foam-flanked and terrible.
BOOM, steal the pygmies,
BOOM, kill the Arabs,
BOOM, kill the white men,
HOO, HOO, HOO.
Listen to the yell of Leopold’s ghost
Burning in Hell for his hand-maimed host.
Hear how the demons chuckle and yell
Cutting his hands off, down in Hell.
Listen to the creepy proclamation,
Blown through the lairs of the forest-nation,
Blown past the white-ants’ hill of clay,
Blown past the marsh where the butterflies play: —
“Be careful what you do,
Or Mumbo-Jumbo, God of the Congo,
And all of the other
Gods of the Congo,
Mumbo-Jumbo will hoo-doo you,
Mumbo-Jumbo will hoo-doo you,
Mumbo-Jumbo will hoo-doo you.”
II.
Wild crap-shooters with a whoop and a call
Danced the juba in their gambling-hall
And laughed fit to kill, and shook the town,
And guyed the policemen and laughed them down
With a boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, BOOM.
THEN I SAW THE CONGO, CREEPING THROUGH THE BLACK,
CUTTING THROUGH THE FOREST WITH A GOLDEN TRACK.
A negro fairyland swung into view,
A minstrel river
Where dreams come true.
The ebony palace soared on high
Through the blossoming trees to the evening sky.
The inlaid porches and casements shone
With gold and ivory and elephant-bone.
And the black crowd laughed till their sides were sore
At the baboon butler in the agate door,
And the well-known tunes of the parrot band
That trilled on the bushes of that magic land.
A troupe of skull-faced witch-men came
Through the agate doorway in suits of flame,
Yea, long-tailed coats with a gold-leaf crust
And hats that were covered with diamond-dust.
And the crowd in the court gave a whoop and a call
And danced the juba from wall to wall.
But the witch-men suddenly stilled the throng
With a stern cold glare, and a stern old song: —
“Mumbo-Jumbo will hoo-doo you.” …
Just then from the doorway, as fat as shotes,
Came the cake-walk princes in their long red coats,
Canes with a brilliant lacquer shine,
And tall silk hats that were red as wine.
And they pranced with their butterfly partners there,
Coal-black maidens with pearls in their hair,
Knee-skirts trimmed with the jassamine sweet,
And bells on their ankles and little black-feet.
And the couples railed at the chant and the frown
Of the witch-men lean, and laughed them down.
(O rare was the revel, and well worth while
That made those glowering witch-men smile.)
The cake-walk royalty then began
To walk for a cake that was tall as a man
To the tune of “Boomlay, boomlay, BOOM,”
While the witch-men laughed, with a sinister air,
And sang with the scalawags prancing there: —
“Walk with care, walk with care,
Or Mumbo-Jumbo, God of the Congo,
And all the other
Gods of the Congo,
Mumbo-Jumbo will hoo-doo you.
Beware, beware, walk with care,
Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, boom.
Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, boom.
Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, boom.
Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay,
BOOM.”
Oh rare was the revel, and well worth while
That made those glowering witch-men smile.
III.
A good old negro in the slums of the town
Preached at a sister for her velvet gown.
Howled at a brother for his low-down ways,
His prowling, guzzling, sneak-thief days.
Beat on the Bible till he wore it out
Starting the jubilee revival shout.
And some had visions, as they stood on chairs,
And sang of Jacob, and the golden stairs,
And they all repented, a thousand strong
From their stupor and savagery and sin and wrong
And slammed with their hymn books till they shook the room
With “glory, glory, glory,”
And “Boom, boom, BOOM.”
THEN I SAW THE CONGO, CREEPING THROUGH THE BLACK,
CUTTING THROUGH THE FOREST WITH A GOLDEN TRACK.
And the gray sky opened like a new-rent veil
And showed the Apostles with their coats of mail.
In bright white steel they were seated round
And their fire-eyes watched where the Congo wound.
And the twelve Apostles, from their thrones on high
Thrilled all the forest with their heavenly cry: —
“Mumbo-Jumbo will die in the jungle;
Never again will he hoo-doo you,
Never again will he hoo-doo you.”
Then along that river, a thousand miles
The vine-snared trees fell down in files.
Pioneer angels cleared the way
For a Congo paradise, for babes at play,
For sacred capitals, for temples clean.
Gone were the skull-faced witch-men lean.
There, where the wild ghost-gods had wailed
A million boats of the angels sailed
With oars of silver, and prows of blue
And silken pennants that the sun shone through.
’Twas a land transfigured, ’twas a new creation.
Oh, a singing wind swept the negro nation
And on through the backwoods clearing flew: —
“Mumbo-Jumbo is dead in the jungle.
Never again will he hoo-doo you.
Never again will he hoo-doo you.
Redeemed were the forests, the beasts and the men,
And only the vulture dared again
By the far, lone mountains of the moon
To cry, in the silence, the Congo tune:—
“Mumbo-Jumbo will hoo-doo you,
“Mumbo-Jumbo will hoo-doo you.
Mumbo … Jumbo … will … hoo-doo … you.”