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With fingers weary and worn,

With eyelids heavy and red,
A woman sat in unwomanly rags,
Plying her needle and thread -

Stitch! stitch ! stitch !
In poverty, hunger, and dirt,

And still with a voice of dolorous pitch She sang the “ Song of the Shirt !”

“Work! work! work!
While the cock is crowing aloof!

And work — work — work,
Till the stars shine through the roof!
It's O! to be a slave

Along with the barbarous Turk,
Where woman has never a soul to save,

If this is Christian work !

“Work — work — work
Till the brain begins to swim !

Work — work — work
Till the eyes are heavy and dim!
Seam, and gusset, and band,

Band, and gusset, and seam,
Till over the buttons I fall asleep,

And sew them on in a dream!

“0, men, with sisters dear!

0, men, with mothers and wives ! It is not linen you ’re wearing out, But human creatures' lives!

Stitch — stitch — stitch,
In poverty, hunger, and dirt,
Sewing at once, with a double thread,

A shroud as well as a shirt.

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" But why do I talk of death?

That phantom of grisly bone, I hardly fear his terrible shape,

It seems so like my own — It seems so like my own,

Because of the fasts I keep; 0, God! that bread should be so dear,

And flesh and blood so cheap!
“Work — work — work!
· My labor never flags;
And what are its wages ? A bed of straw,

A crust of bread — and rags.
That shattered roof — and this naked floor -

A table — a broken chair —
And a wall so blank, my shadow I thank

For sometimes falling there ! “Work — work — work!

From weary chime to chime, Work — work — work,

As prisoners work for crime! Band, and gusset, and seam,

Seam, and gusset, and band, Till the heart is sick, and the brain henumbed,

As well as the weary hand.


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Work — work — work, In the dull December light,

And work — work — work,
When the weather is warm and bright -
While underneath the eaves

The brooding swallows cling,
As if to show me their sunny backs,

And twit me with the spring.

“O! but to breathe the breath Of the cowslip and primrose sweet

With the sky above my head, And the grass beneath my feet, For only one short hour

To feel as I used to feel, Before I knew the woes of want,

And the walk that costs a meal! "O! but for one short hour!

A respite however brief !
No blessed leisure for love or hope,

But only time for grief !
A little weeping would ease my heart,

But in their briny bed
My tears must stop, for every drop

Hinders needle and thread !”
With fingers weary and worn,

With eyelids heavy and red,
A woman sat in unwomanly rags,
Plying her needle and thread ---

Stitch! stitch ! stitch !
In poverty, hunger, and dirt,
And still with a voice of dolorous pitch,-
Would that its tone could reach the rich ! —

She sang this “Song of the Shirt !”


The lady lay in her bed,

Her couch so warm and soft,
But her sleep was restless and broken still ;

For, turning often and oft
From side to side, she muttered and moaned,

And tossed her arms aloft.
At last she startled up,

And gazed on the vacant air,
With a look of awe, as if she saw

Some dreadful phantom there —
And then in the pillow she buried her face

From visions ill to bear.

The very curtain shook,

Her terror was so extreme;
And the light that fell on the broidered quilt

Kept a tremulous gleam;
And her voice was hollow, and shook as she cried :

“0, me! that awful dream ! “That weary, weary walk,

In the church-yard's dismal ground !
And those horrible things, with shady wins,

That came and flitted round, -
Death, death, and nothing but death,

In every sight and sound !

"And, O! those maidens young,

Who wrought in that dreary room, With figures drooping and spectres thin,

And cheeks without a bloom ; — And the voice that cried, 'For the pomp of pride,

We haste to an early tomb !

“For the pomp and pleasure of pride,

We toil like Afric slaves,
And only to earn a home, at last,

Where yonder cypress waves,
And then they pointed — I never saw

A ground so full of graves !

“ And still the coffins came,

With their sorrowful trains and slow;
Coffin after coffin still,

A sad and sickening show;
From grief exempt, I never had dreamt

Of such a world of woe!

“Of the hearts that daily break,

Of the tears that hourly fall,
Of the many, many troubles of life,

That grieve this earthly ball —
Disease, and Hunger, and Pain, and Want,

But now I dreamt of them all!

“For the blind and the cripple were there,

And the babe that pined for bread,
And th: houseless man, and the widow poor

Who begged — to bury the dead;
The naked, alas! that I might have clad.

The famished I might have fed !

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