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Who does not hear the tramp
Of thousands speeding along
Of either sex and various stamp,
Sickly, crippled, or strong,
Walking, limping, creeping
From court, and alley, and lane,
But all in one direction sweeping,
Like rivers that seek the main?
Who does not see them sally
From mill, and garret, and room,
In lane, and court, and alley,
From homes in poverty's lowest valley,
Furnished with shuttle and loom —
Poor slaves of Civilization's galley —
And in the road and footways rally,
As if for the day of doom P

Some, of hardly human form,

Stunted, crooked, and crippled by toil;
Dingy with smoke and dust and oil,
And smirched besides with vicious soil,
Clustering, mustering, all in a swarm.
Father, mother, and careful child,
Looking as if it had never smiled —
The seamstress, lean, and weary, and wan,
With only the ghosts of garments on—
The weaver, her sallow neighbor,
The grim and sooty artisan;
Every soul — child, woman, or man,
Who lives—or dies — by labor.

Stirred by an overwhelming zeal,
And sociál impulse, a terrible throng !
Leaving shuttle, and needle, and wheel,

Furnace, and grindstone, spindle, and reel,
Thread, and yarn, and iron, and steel—
Yea, rest and the yet untasted meal—
Gushing, rushing, crushing along,
A very torrent of Man'
Urged by the sighs of sorrow and wrong,
Grown at last to a hurricane strong,
Stop its course who can
Stop who can its onward course
And irresistible moral force;
O ! vain and idle dream |
For surely as men are all akin,
Whether of fair or sable skin,
According to Nature's scheme,
That human movement contains within
A blood-power stronger than steam.

Onward, onward, with hasty feet,
They swarm — and westward still —
Masses born to drink and eat,
But starving amidst Whitechapel’s meat,
And famishing down Cornhill!
Through the Poultry — but still unfed—
Christian charity, hang your head
Hungry — passing the Street of Bread;
Thirsty — the Street of Milk;
Ragged—beside the Ludgate mart,
So gorgeous, through mechanic art,
With cotton, and wool, and silk!

At last, before that door
That bears so many a knock

Pre ever it opens to sick or poor,
Like sheep they huddle and flock–

And would that all the good and wise
Could see the million of hollow eyes,
With a gleam derived from hope and the skies,
Upturned to the workhouse clock!

O! that the parish powers,
Who regulate labor's hours,
The daily amount of human trial,
Weariness, pain, and self-denial,
Would turn from the artificial dial
That striketh ten or eleven,
And go, for once, by that older one
That stands in the light of Nature's sun,
And takes its time from Heaven


A SPADE | a rake a hoe
A pickaxe, or a bill!
A hook to reap, or a scythe to mow,
A flail, or what ye will—
And here's a ready hand
To ply the needful tool,
And skilled enough, by lessons rough,
In Labor's rugged school.

To hedge, or dig the ditch,
To lop or fell the tree,

To lay theswarth on the sultry field,
Or plough the stubborn lea;

The harvest stack to bind,
The wheaten rick to thatch,

And never fear in my pouch to find
The tinder or the match.

To a flaming barn or farm
My fancies never roam ;
The fire I yearn to kindle and burn
Is on the hearth of home;
Where children huddle and crouch
Through dark long winter days,
Where starving children huddle and crouch,
To see the cheerful rays,
A-glowing on the haggard cheek,
And not in the haggard’s blaze

To Him who sends a drought
To parch the fields forlorn,
The rain to flood the meadows with mud,
The blight to blast the corn,
To Him I leave to guide
The bolt in its crooked path,
To strike the miser's rick, and show
The skies blood-red with wrath.

A spade a rake a hoe
A pickaxe, or a bill!
A hook to reap, or a scythe to mow,
A flail, or what ye will —
The corn to thrash, or the hedge to plash,
The market-team to drive,
Or mend the fence by the cover side,
And leave the game alive.

Ay, only give me work,
And then you need not fear
That I shall snare his worship's hare,
Or kill his grace's deer;
Break into his lordship's house,
To steal the plate so rich;

Or leave the yeoman that had a purse

To welter in the ditch.

Wherever Nature needs,
Wherever Labor calls,
No job I'll shirk of the hardest work,
To shun the workhouse walls;
Where savage laws begrudge
The pauper babe its breath,
And doom a wife to a widow's life,
Before her partner's death.

My only claim is this,
With labor stiff and stark
By lawful turn my living to earn,
Between the light and dark;
My daily bread and nightly bed,
My bacon, and drop of beer — .
But all from the hand that holds the land,
And none from the overseer

No parish money, or loaf,
No pauper badges for me, –
A son of the soil by right of toil
Entitled to my fee.
No alms I ask, give me my task;
Here are the arm, the leg,
The strength, the sinews of a man,
To work, and not to beg.

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