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THE SPIRIT

OF

"THE NATION."



PART II.



THE VOICE OF LABOUR.

A CHANT OF THE MONSTER MEETINGS.

I.

Ye who despoil the sons of toil, saw ye this sight to-day
When stalwart trade in long brigade, beyond a king's array,
Marched in the blessed light of heaven, beneath the open sky,
Strong in the might of sacred right, that none dare ask them why?
These are the slaves, the needy knaves, ye spit upon with scorn—
The spawn of earth, of nameless birth, and basely bred as born,
Yet know, ye weak and silken Lords, were we the thing ye say,
Your broad domains, your coffered gains, your lives were ours to-day!


II.

Measure that rank, from flank to flank; 'tis fifty thousand strong;
And mark you here, in front and rear, brigades as deep and long;
And learn to know that blade of foe, or Arran's deadly breeze,
Ne'er by assay of storm or fray, tried manlier hearts than these;
The sinewy Smith, little he recks of his own child—the sword;
The men of gear, think you they fear, their handiwork—a Lord?
And undismayed, yon sons of trade might see the battle's front,
Who bravely bore, nor bowed before, the deadlier face of want.


III.

What lack we here of all the pomps that lure your kerns to death?
Not serried bands, nor sinewy hands, nor music's martial breath;
And if we broke the slavish yoke our suppliant race endure,
No robbers we—but chivalry—the Army of the Poor.
Out on ye now, ye Lordly crew, that do your betters wrong—
We are not thieves, we are not knaves, but merciful as strong.
Your henchmen vain, your vassal train, would fly our first defiance;
In us—in our strong, tranquil breasts—abides your sole reliance.


IV.

Aye, keep them all, castle and hall, coffers and costly jewels—
Keep your vile gain, and in its train the passions that it fuels.
We envy not your lordly lot—its bloom or its decayance:
But ye have that we claim as ours—our right in long abeyance.
Leisure to live, leisure to love, leisure to taste our freedom,
Oh! suff'ring poor, oh! patient poor, how bitterly you need them!—
"Ever to moil, ever to toil," that is your social charter,
And city slave or rustic serf, the toiler is its martyr.


V.

Where Frank or Norman shed their sweat the goodly crop is theirs—
If Norway's toil makes rich the soil, she eats the fruit she rears—
O'er Maine's green sward there rules no lord, saving the Lord on high;
Why are we swindled—sabred—starved?—my masters, tell us why.
The German burgher and his men, brother with brothers live,
While toil must wait without your gate what gracious crusts you give.
Long in your sight, for our own right, we've bent and still we bend—
Why did we bow? why do we now? my masters, this must end.


VI.

Perish the past—a generous land is this fair land of ours,
And enmity may no man see between its Towns and Towers.
Come join our bands—here take our hands—now shame on him that lingers,
Merchant or Peer, you have no fear from labour's blistered fingers.
Come, join at last, perish the past—its traitors, its seceders—
Proud names and old, frank hearts and bold, come join and be our Leaders.
But know, my lords, that he your swords with us or with our Wronger,
Heaven be our guide, we Toilers bide this lot of shame no longer!