Chinaman, Laundryman

(1932)
"Chinaman, Laundryman" is the second song of Ruth Crawford Seeger's Two Ricercari. The poem, written by H. T. Tsiang, was published in Daily Worker on August 15, 1928.

Chinaman, Laundryman
by H. T. Tsiang
(original text)

"Chinaman"!
"Laundryman"!
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,
"Chinaman,
Go back to China,
If you don't feel satisfied!
There,
Unlimited hours of toil:
Two silver dollars a week,
If
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?

"Chinaman"!
"Laundryman"!
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!"

"Chinaman"!
"Laundryman"!
All you workingmen!
Here is the brush
Made of Marxism
Here is the soap
Made of Leninism.
Let us all
wash with the blood!
Let us all
Press with the iron!
Wash!
Brush!
Dry!
Iron!
Then we shall have
A clean world!

-----

Chinaman, Laundryman
by H. T. Tsiang
(altered song text)


"Chinaman"!
"Laundryman"!
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,
"Chinaman,
Go back to China,
If you don't feel satisfied!
There,
Unlimited hours of toil:
Two silver dollars a week,
If
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?

"Chinaman"!
"Laundryman"!
Don't call me "Chinaman"!
Yes, I am a "Laundryman"!
The workingman!
Don't call me "Chinaman"!
I am the Worldman!

"Chinaman"!
"Laundryman"!
All you workingmen!
Here is the brush
Made of study
Here is the soap
Made of action.
Let us all
wash with the brush!
Let us all
Press with the iron!
Wash!
Brush!
Dry!
Iron!
Then we shall have
A clean world!

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