View Full Version : Celebrating Labor Day

David G
09-05-2011, 11:21 AM
By Robert Pinsky
The back, the yoke, the yardage. Lapped seams,

The nearly invisible stitches along the collar
Turned in a sweatshop by Koreans or Malaysians

Gossiping over tea and noodles on their break
Or talking money or politics while one fitted
This armpiece with its overseam to the band

Of cuff I button at my wrist. The presser, the cutter,
The wringer, the mangle. The needle, the union,
The treadle, the bobbin. The code. The infamous blaze

At the Triangle Factory in nineteen-eleven.
One hundred and forty-six died in the flames
On the ninth floor, no hydrants, no fire escapes—

The witness in a building across the street
Who watched how a young man helped a girl to step
Up to the windowsill, then held her out

Away from the masonry wall and let her drop.
And then another. As if he were helping them up
To enter a streetcar, and not eternity.

A third before he dropped her put her arms
Around his neck and kissed him. Then he held
Her into space, and dropped her. Almost at once

He stepped to the sill himself, his jacket flared
And fluttered up from his shirt as he came down,
Air filling up the legs of his gray trousers—

Like Hart Crane’s Bedlamite, “shrill shirt ballooning.”
Wonderful how the pattern matches perfectly
Across the placket and over the twin bar-tacked

Corners of both pockets, like a strict rhyme
Or a major chord. Prints, plaids, checks,
Houndstooth, Tattersall, Madras. The clan tartans

Invented by mill-owners inspired by the hoax of Ossian,
To control their savage Scottish workers, tamed
By a fabricated heraldry: MacGregor,

Bailey, MacMartin. The kilt, devised for workers
To wear among the dusty clattering looms.
Weavers, carders, spinners. The loader,

The docker, the navvy. The planter, the picker, the sorter
Sweating at her machine in a litter of cotton
As slaves in calico headrags sweated in fields:

George Herbert, your descendant is a Black
Lady in South Carolina, her name is Irma
And she inspected my shirt. Its color and fit

And feel and its clean smell have satisfied
Both her and me. We have culled its cost and quality
Down to the buttons of simulated bone,

The buttonholes, the sizing, the facing, the characters
Printed in black on neckband and tail. The shape,
The label, the labor, the color, the shade. The shirt.

David G
09-05-2011, 11:27 AM
Step by step the longest march
Can be won, can be won

Many stones to form an arch
Singly none, singly none

But by union what we will
Can be accomplished still

Drops of water turn a mill
Singly none, singly none.

David G
09-05-2011, 11:47 AM
Bread and Roses

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZWxm4zYZGY (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZWxm4zYZGY)

As we go marching, marching
In the beauty of the day
A million darkened kitchens
A thousand mill lofts grey
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 go marching, marching
We battle too for men
For they are women’s children
And we mother them again
Our lives shall not be sweetened
From birth until life closes
Hearts starve as well as bodies
Give us bread, but give us roses

As we go marching, marching
We bring the greater days
For the rising of the women
Means the rising of the race
No more the drudge and idler
Ten that toil where one reposes
But the sharing of life’s glories
Bread and roses, bread and roses

Words by James Oppenheim (1912)

David G
09-05-2011, 12:03 PM
~ All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence ~MLK

~ If any man tells you he loves America, yet hates labor, he is a liar. If any man tells you he trusts America, yet fears labor, he is a fool. ~ Abraham Lincoln

~ What does labor want? We want more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures ~ Samuel Gompers

~ Without labor nothing prospers. ~ Sophocles

~ Workers of the world awaken. Break your chains, demand your rights. All the wealth you make is taken, by exploiting parasites. Shall you kneel in deep submission from your cradle to your grave. Is the height of your ambition to be a good and willing slave? ~ Joe Hill

~ When people ask me, ‘Why can’t labor organize the way it did in the thirties?’ the answer is simple: everything we did then is now illegal. ~ Thomas Geoghegan

Uncle Duke
09-05-2011, 03:35 PM
+ 10? +20?
Gracias, senor....

David G
09-05-2011, 06:14 PM
de nada.

Feel free to add your own paean to the labor that built this country.

09-05-2011, 06:21 PM

Saddest Song ever written if you're from mining stock.

David G
09-05-2011, 06:58 PM

Saddest Song ever written if you're from mining stock.

Ballad of Spring Hill

In the town of spring hill, nova scotia,
Down in the heart of the cumberland mine,
There's blood on the coal and miners lie
In the roads that never saw sun or sky
Roads that never saw sun or sky.

Down at the coal face the miner's workin'
Rattle of the belt and the cutter's blade
Crumble of rock and the walls close round
Living and the dead men two miles down
Living and the dead men two miles down

Twelve men lay two miles from the pitshaft
Listen for the drillin' of a rescue team
Six hundred feet of coal and slag
Hope imprisoned in a three-foot seam
Hope imprisoned in a three-foot seam

Eight days passed and some were rescued
Leaving the dead to lie alone
All their lives they dug their graves
Two miles of earth for a markin' stone
Two miles of earth for a markin' stone

In the town of spring hill you don't sleep easy
Often the earth will tremble and groan
When the earth is restless, miners die
Bone and blood is the price of coal
Bone and blood is the price of coal

09-05-2011, 07:45 PM
On a more cheerful note

Peggy Seeger
Come fill up your glasses with whiskey and beer
And drink a full glass to a happy new year
To our sisters and brothers,and may they live long,
So lift up your glasses and join in this song
So we'll fill up your glasses and drink once again,
To peace on earth and good will among men
Long life to the miners the whole world around,
Who spend their days in a hole underground,
Whose road is a tunnel, whose day is the night,
Out of danger and darkness they bring light
Our thanks too the fishermen and safe may they toil,
And also to the farmer who turns up the soil;
To the ploughmen and shepherds and all men of worth,
Whose joy is to harvest the fruits of the earth.
Here's to the drivers and firemen and the rest of the team,
Who keep the stock rolling by diesel and steam,
To the cleaners and shunters who work night and day,
And the track laying gangs on the permanent way.
A toast to the casual laboring man,
Who lives where his work is, who works where he can,
To the builders and spidermen and bold engineers,
May your wages keep rising, lads, over the years.
To the writers and artists, then, let's drink a health,
To people whose hopes, and whose dreams are our wealth,
Whose tools are but canvas or paper and pen,
Whose harvest is the future and the progress of men,
Let the men drink a health to their sweethearts and wives,
And the ladies, being willing, will greet them likewise,
May your pleasures be many, your troubles bu few,
May you treasure the day you made one out of two.
Let's drink to our children and let us prepare,
A world where they'll live free from sorrow and care,
A world where goodwill among men is the law,
A world without fallout, a world without war.

Happy Labour Day