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Poem by Gerald Massey

The Cry of the Unemployed

'TIS hard, 'tis hard to wander on through this bright
          world of ours,
Beneath a sky of smiling blue, on velvet paths of flowers,
With music in the woods, as there were nought but
          joyance known,
Or Angels walkt earth's solitudes, and yet with want to
To see no beauty in the stars, nor in God's radiant smile,
To wail and wander misery-curst! willing, but cannot toil.
There's burning sickness at my heart, I sink down
God of the wretched, hear my prayer: I would that I were

Heaven dropped down with manna still in many a golden
And feeds the leaves with fragrant breath, with silver dew
            the flow'r.
There's honeyed fruit for bee and bird, with bloom laughs
            out the tree,
And food for all God's happy things; but none gives food
            to me.
Earth, deckt with Plenty's garland-crown, smiles on my
          aching eye,
The purse-proud,swathed in luxurydisdainful pass
          me by;
I've eager hands, and earnest heartbut may not work
            for bread!
God of the wretched, hear my prayer. I would that I were

Gold, art thou not a blessed thing: a charm above all
To shut up hearts to Nature's cry, when brother pleads
             with brother?
Hast thou a music sweeter than the voice of loving-
No ! curse thee, thou'rt a mist 'twixt God and man in
            outer blindness.
"Father, come back!" my children cry; their voices,
            once so sweet,
Now quiver lance-like in my bleeding heart! I cannot
The looks that make the brain go mad, for dear ones
            asking bread
God of the wretched, hear my prayer: I would that I were

Lord! what right have the poor to wed?   Love's for the
            gilded great:
Are they not form'd of nobler clay, who dine off golden
'Tis the worst curse of Poverty to have a feeling heart:
Why can I not, with iron-grasp, tear out the tender part?
I cannot slave in you Bastille! ah no't were bitterer pain,
To wear the Pauper's iron within, than drag the Convict's
I'd work but cannot, starve I may, but will not beg for
God of the wretched, hear my prayer: I would that I were

Gerald Massey

Gerald Massey's other poems:
  1. Love in Idleness
  2. A Maiden's Song
  3. A Night-Musing
  4. Long Expected
  5. A Lyric of Love

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