Laboring Poetry

Poetry for Labor Day:

Image from Life Magazine

Song of the Factory Girl.

BY JOHN H. WARLAND.

Oh sing me the song of the Factory Girl!
So merry and glad and free!
The bloom on her cheeks, of health how it speaks,
Oh a happy creature is she!
She tends the loom, she watches the spindle,
And cheerfully toileth away —
Mid the din of wheels, how her bright eyes kindle,
And her bosom is ever gay!

Oh sing me the song of the Factory Girl!
Who hath breathed our mountain air,
She toils for her home and the joys to come
To the loved ones gathered there!
She tends the loom, she watches the spindle,
And she fancies her mother near —
How glows her heart, and her bright eyes kindle
As she thinks of her sister dear.

Oh sing me the song of the Factory Girl!
Who no titled lord doth own,
Who with treasures more rare, is more free from care,
Than a Queen upon her throne!
She tends the loom, she watches the spindle,
And she parts her glossy hair,
I know by her smile, as her bright eyes kindle,
That a cheerful spirit is there!

Oh sing me the song of the Factory Girl!
Whose task is easy and light —
She toileth away till the evening gray,
And her sleep is sweet and light —
She tends the loom, she watches the spindle,
And, oh, she is honest and free —
I know by her laugh, as her bright eyes kindle,
That few are more happy than she!

Oh sing me the song of the Factory Girl!
As she walks her spacious hall,
And trims the rose and the orange that blows,
In the window, scenting all.
She tends the loom and watches the spindle,
And she skips in the bracing air —
I know by her eyes, as their bright lights kindle,
That a queenly heart is there!

Oh sing me the song of the Factory Girl!
Link not her name with the SLAVE’S;
She is brave and free, as the old elm tree
Which over her  homestead waves.
She tends the loom, she watches the spindle,
And scorns the laugh and the sneer,
I know by her lip, as her bright eyes kindle,
That a FREE-BORN spirit is here!

Oh sing me the song of the Factory Girl!
Whose fabric doth clothe the world,
From the king and his peers to the jolly tars
With our flag o’er all seas unfurl’d,
From China’s gold seas, to the tainted breeze
Which sweeps the smokened rooms
Where “God save the Queen,” to cry are seen,
The slaves of the British looms.

Oh sing me the song of the Factory Girl!
The honest and fair and true —
Whose name has rung, whose deeds been sung,
O’er the land and waters blue.
She tends the loom, and watches the spindle,
And her words are cheerful and gay —
Oh, give me her smile, as her bright eyes kindle,
And she toils and sings away!

God bless our Yankee Factory Girls!
The girls of our mountain wild!
Like a merry hind, shall their song be heard,
Where’er sweet Labor has smiled.
From our forests green, where the axe hath been,
And the waters dance in the sun —
Through New England’s clime, to the thunder chime
Of the surging Oregon! —

[Asylum Gazette.]

Huron Reflector (Norwalk, Ohio) Jun 2, 1846

Image from www.victorianweb.org/history/work/blacksmith.html

THE VILLAGE BLACKSMITH.

BY H.W. LONGFELLOW.

Under a spreading chesnut tree
The village smithy stands;
The smith, a mighty man is he,
With large and sinewy hands;
And the muscles of his brawny arms
Are strong as iron bands.

His hair is crisp, and black and long;
His face is like the tan;
His brow is wet with honest sweat;
He earns whate’er he can,
And looks the whole world in the face,
For he owes not any man.

Week in, week out, from morn till night
You can hear his bellows blow;
You can hear him swing his heavy sledge
With measured beat and slow,
Like a sexton ringing the village bell,
When the evening sun is low.

And children coming home from school
Look in at the open door;
They love to see the flaming forge,
And hear the bellows roar,
And catch the burning sparks that fly
Like chaff from a threshing floor.

He goes on Sunday to the church,
And sets among his boys;
He hears the parson pray and preach,
He hears his daughter’s voice,
Singing in the village choir,
And it makes his heart rejoice.

It sounds to him like his Mother’s voice,
Singing in Paradise!
He needs must thinks of her once more,
How in the grave she lies;
And with his hard rough hand he wipes
A tear from out his eyes.

Toiling — rejoicing — sorrowing —
Onward through life he goes;
Each morning sees some task begin,
Each evening sees it close;
Something attempted — something done —
Has earned a night’s repose.

Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
For the lesson thou hast taught;
Thus at the flaming forge of Life
Our fortunes must be wrought;
Thus on its sounding anvil shaped
Each burning Deed and Thought.

Republican Compiler (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) Jun 21, 1847

A "Begrimed" Engineer

Image and Cobeen family history can be found HERE.

THE ENGINEER.

Ah! who ever thinks of the bold engineer,
As he stands by his throttle of steel,
And spurs on his steed to its maddened career,
In its thundering and ponderous reel,
Like a soldier begrimed in battle’s dark strife,
And brave to the cannon’s hot breath.
He, too, plunges on with his long train of life,
Unmindful of danger or death!
Through the daylight,
Into the night,
Dark, dark.
He knows no affright,
O’er ridges
And bridges,
Decayed or strong,
Like a mystic God he rushed along!
Who thinks of the bold engineer?

So true to his post like a statue he stands,
With his eyes fixed fast on afar;
Our own precious lives he holds in his hands,
Our wealth we give to his care;
For good must he be, the bold engineer,
As he dashes from village to town,
And brings us all safe, ‘midst a smile or a tear,
To the forms so dearly our own!
Onward he goes,
His whistle he blows —
Deep, deep,
Through hight-drifted snows;
With crossings
And tossings,
In heat and in rain,
O’er the glitterings track he pulls the long train!
All hail to the bold engineer.

I love the brave man, though accidents come,
With their heart-rending anguish and woe;
Still foremost he rides, to whatever doom,
Like the form on a vessel’s bold prow.
And as he sweeps on like the wind through the land,
Away from “sweet home” and its charm,
For the sake of the “loved ones” and wife, may Thy hand,
Oh God, protect him from harm!
On doth he ride,
No dangers betide,
Swift, swift!
With bridesgroom and bride —
The tallest,
The smallest,
The rich and the poor,
All follow his path, o’er river and moor —
Long life to the bold engineer!

The Fitchburg Sentinel (Fitchburg, Mass.) Aug 13, 1870Image from www.yale.edu/fes519b/pitchpine /sitehistory.html

From the American Farmer

THE FARMER.

Of all pursuits by men invented,
The ploughman is the best contented,
His calling’s good, his profits high,
And on his labors all rely –Mechanics all by him are fed,
Of him the merchants seek their bread;
His hands give meat to every thing,
Up from the beggar to the king.The milk and honey, corn and wheat,
Are by his labors made complete.
Our clothes from him must first arise,
To deck the fop or dress the wise –We then by vote may justly state,
The ploughman ranks among the great;
More independent than them all,
That dwell upon this earthly ball.

All hail, ye farmers, young and old!
Push on your plough with courage bold;
Your wealth arises from your clod,
Your independence from your God.If then the plough supports the nation,
And men of rank in every station,
Let kings to farmers make a bow,
And every man procure a plough.

Republican Compiler (Gettysburg, Pennsylvania) Aug 17, 1825Image from http://www.hartford.gov/fire/

THE FIREMAN.

Amid the flames he stood,
And the white smoke formed his wreath,
And the swelling waves of the fiery flood
Came surging from beneath.

The crackling timbers reeled,
And the brands came gleaming down,
Like the scattered wealth that the forest yields
When their autumn leaves are brown.

The tempest howled in wrath,
And the fire wheeled madly on, —
And the embers far on the wind’s wild path,
Through the murky night, had gone.

Yet there, in his pride, he stood,
With a steady hand and strong;
And his axe came down on the burning wood,
Till the heart of the old oak rung.

There was many an earnest eye
Through the rolling smoke that gazed,
While he stood with his dauntless soul & high,
Where the hottest fire-brands blazed.

And prayers were faltered forth
From the aged and the young,
For the safety of many a household hearth
On the strokes of his strong arm hung.

There was many a proud knight there,
With his mantle round him rolled,
That aloof, in the light of that sweeping fire,
Stood shivering in the cold.

And oft, from the fireman’s bands,
A summons for aid was heard;
But never the tips of their well-gloved hands
From their ermined cloaks were stirred.

And no white and fervent lip
For their welfare or safety prayed;
For no children’s weal and mother’s hope
In the strength of their arms was stayed.

Were I searching earth’s mingled throng
For shelter, my claim would be
A hand, like that FIREMAN’s, nerved & strong,
And a fearless heart for me.

Ohio Repository, The (Canton, Ohio) May 8, 1845Image from www.virtualmuseum.ca

 

From the Knickerbocker.

Song of Labor: The Miner.

BY J. SWETT.

The eastern sky is blushing red,
The distant hill-top glowing;
The brook is murmuring in its bed,
In idle frolics flowing;
‘Tis time the pickaxe and the spade
And iron “tom” were ringing;
And with ourselves, the mountain stream
A song of labor singing.

The mountain air is cool and fresh;
Unclouded skies been o’er us;
Broad placers, rich in hidden gold,
Lie temptingly before us
Then lightly ply the pick and spade
With sinews strong and lusty;
A golden “pile” is quickly made,
Wherever claims are “dusty.

“We ask no magic Midas’ wand,
Nor wizard-rod divining;
The pickaxe, spade and brawny hand
Are sorcerers in mining;
We toil for hard and yellow gold,
No bogus bank notes taking;
The bank, we trust, though growing old,
Will better pay by breaking.

There is no manlier life than ours,
A life amid the mountains,
Where from the hillsides, rich in gold,
Are willing sparkling fountains:
A mighty army of the hills,
Like some strong giant labors
To gather spoil by earnest toil,
And not by robbing neighbors!

When labor closes with the day,
To simple fare returning,
We gather in a merry group
Around the camp-fires burning;
The mountains sod our couch at night,
The stars shine bright above us;
We think of home, and fall asleep
To dream of those who love us.

Mountain Democrat, The (Placerville, California) May 13, 1854

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