The Great Strike

Albery Allson Whitman

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"Strike! Strike! Stop! Stop!" What mean these shouts that rise --
This great commotion throughout all the land,
That chills the circling life of enterprise,
While lawlessness stalks forth with torch in hand?

The hands of Industry have to the head
(Aweary grown of swinging to and fro)
Without discretion's sober forethought said:
"We ought to be above, and you below."

Whenever Communism's snaky head
Is raised against the heel of Capital,
I want it crushed 'neath Law's majestic tread,
And yet would heed poor honest labor's call.

The cold long Winter fast is coming on,
His near approach makes sad the leafless year,
And deep snows soon the naked fields upon,
Will hush the voice of Autumn's latest cheer.

The burdened year will soon her treasures yield,
And pile our spacious barns from eaves to floor,
Then vagrant want in lanes and open field,
Can gather scanty sustenance no more.

The howling winds will drive before them then,
This drifting dust of Fortune's feet in clouds;
And hither thither into ditch and den
Mis'ry and crime will rush in babbling crowds.

But while the desp'rate curse, while lewdness cries,
And shiftlessness ought justly to go bare,
Forget it not, full many a Lazarus lies
Before thy gate and needs a crumb of care.

While Wealth across his lordly arm will cast
The warmth of scores of God Almighty's poor,
Still houseless want must shiver in the blast,
And childhood's feet go bare from door to door.

While pride upon her easy finger wears
The bread of thousands in a brilliant stone,
The eyes of Wretchedness must stream with tears,
And groaning labor be content to groan.

Let heaven's light upon our nature shine,
Till ev'ry opaque spot with glory beams,
And want no longer at our feet can pine,
But happiness will flow in living streams.

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