Blue Heron [Peter Linebaugh] – “The Silent Speak: The Incomplete, True, Authentick, and Wonderful History of May Day” (1985)

This remarkable pamphlet is the first published edition of Peter Linebaugh’s now-classic essay “The Incomplete, True, Authentic, and Wonderful History of May Day.”

“Blue Heron” was a pseudonym that Linebaugh used and the piece was written while he was living in the Boston area and teaching at Tufts (hence “Boss Town”). This beautiful essay has seen many editions since this 1985 publication. (It is of note that Linebaugh’s book on PM with the title “The Incomplete, True, Authentic and Wonderful History of May Day” states 1986 as its year of origin, whereas this pamphlet appeared in 1985).

A capture of the Midnight Notes website in 1999 included the following note from the 1986 edition of the pamphlet, which gives some useful background connecting “The Silent Speak” to the pamphlet’s 1986 version:

“The little history that you’re holding in your hand has grown from an earlier version published last year called “The Silent Speak.” There’s more information this year, thanks to conversations in Quincy with John Wilshire and Monty Neill and thanks to newspaper research by Jonathan Feldman and John Roosa. Bryn Clark made a portable Maypole last year which we capered around at the Bank of Boston. We were gratified by the interest shown by lunchtime workers but also struck by how widespread May Day amnesia had become. So, this year we have added some ‘how to’ sections, on games (p.5), on the Maypole (p. 11), and on getting to Merry Mount (p. 16), which we hope may make it more practical. Last year’s May Day demonstration against Kruggerand gold encouraged us to add (an incomplete) list (p. 16) of the many May Day events this year. We especially thank Gene Bruskin and Jim Green who have helped to plan the demo against apartheid and the centennial celebration at Faneuil Hall, respectively. Dana Moser helped with the graphics. Hohn Flym, DeAnn Burrows, Mike Ryan, and friends in Teas, Rochester, Nigeria, Big Indian, Somerville, Belize, and Tufnell Park have provided support and encouragement. And thanks to the workers at Copy Cop.

Our copy of the pamphlet came with a neat flier for “Blue Monday: A Day of Resistance to all the Work-Makers.” The anti-work sentiment is transparent. We cannot locate any additional details of the event or source the symbol on the bottom right (if you have any hints please reach out to us).

The “Silent Speak” pamphlet is rare. OCLC locates two institutionally-held copies – one at Harvard and the other at in the Senate House Library at the University of London. We locate no copies of the “Blue Monday” flier.

We have scanned a copy of the pamphlet and uploaded it to Libcom, here.

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