BREAD AND ROSES
(James Oppenheim / Caroline Kohlsaat - 1912)
(BACKGROUND INFO: In 1912, in the great woolen center of Lawrence,
Massachusetts, USA, 20,000 workers walked out of the mills in protest
against a cut in their weekly pay. Workers had been averaging $8.76
for a 56-hour working week when a state law made 54 hours the maximum
for both women and minors under 18. The textile companies reduced all
hours to 54 but refused to raise wage rates to compensate for the
average loss of 31 cents per week suffered by each worker because of
the reduction in hours. This is the song of the female strikers.)
As we come marching, marching in the beauty of the day
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts gray
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses
For the people hear us singing, "Bread and roses! Bread and roses!"
As we come marching, marching, we battle too for men
For they are women's children, and we mother them again
Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes
Hearts starve as well as bodies, give us bread, but give us roses!
As we come marching, marching, unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing their ancient cry for bread
Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew
Yes, it is bread we fight for, but we fight for roses too!
As we come marching, marching, we bring the greater days
The rising of the women means the rising of the race
No more the drudge and idler, ten that toil where one reposes
But a sharing of life's glories, Bread and Roses! Bread and Roses!