...you, young artist, sculptor, painter, poet, musician, do you not observe that the sacred fire which inspired your predecessors is wanting in the (people) of today. That art is commonplace and mediocrity reigns supreme?
Could it be otherwise? The delight of having rediscovered the ancient world, of having bathed afresh in the springs of nature which created the masterpieces of the Renaissance no longer exists for the art of our time; the revolutionary ideal has left it cold until now, and , failing an ideal, our art fancies that it has found one in realism when it painfully photographs in colours the dewdrop on the leaf of a plant, imitates the muscles in the leg of a cow, or describes minutely in prose and verse the suffocating filth of a sewer, the boudoir of a whore of high degree.
"But if this is so, what is to be done?" you say. If, I reply, the sacred fire that you possess is nothing better than a smouldering wick, then you will go on doing as you have done, and your art will speedily degenerate into the trade of decorator of trades(people)'s shops, of a purveyor of librettos to third rate operettas,and tales for Christmas Annuals - most of you are already running down that grade with a head of steam on...
But, if your heart really beats in unison with humanity, if like a true poet you have an ear for Life, then gazing out upon this sea of sorrow whose tide sweeps up around you, face to face with these people dying of hunger, in the presence of these corpses piled up in the (mortuaries), and these mutilated bodies lying in heaps on the barricades, looking on these long lines of exiles who are going to bury themselves...; in full view of this desperate battle which is being fought, amid the cries of pain from the conquered and the orgies of the victors, of heroism in conflict with cowardice, of noble determination face to face with contemptible cunning- you cannot remain neutral; you will come and take the side of the oppressed because you know that the beautiful, the sublime, the spirit of life itself are on the side of those who fight for light, for humanity, for justice!
You poets, painters, sculptors, musicians, if you understand your true mission and the very interests of art itself, come with us. Place your pen, your pencil, your chisel, your ideas at the service of the revolution. Figure forth to us, in your eloquent style, or your impressive pictures, the heroic struggles of the people against their oppressors; fire the hearts of our youth with that revolutionary enthusiasm which inflamed the souls of our ancestors; tell the people that a good profession is one who devotes his life to the great cause of social emancipation! Show the people how hideous is their actual life, and place your hand on the causes of its ugliness; tell us what a rational life would be if we did not encounter at every step the follies and the ignomonies of our present social order.