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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 groan, 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 famishèd! God of the wretched, hear my prayer: I would that I were dead! Heaven dropped down with manna still in many a golden show'r, 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 luxury—disdainful pass me by; I've eager hands, and earnest heart—but may not work for bread! God of the wretched, hear my prayer. I would that I were dead! Gold, art thou not a blessed thing: a charm above all other, To shut up hearts to Nature's cry, when brother pleads with brother? Hast thou a music sweeter than the voice of loving- kindness? 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 meet 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 dead! 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 plate? '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 chain. I'd work but cannot, starve I may, but will not beg for bread: God of the wretched, hear my prayer: I would that I were dead!
Gerald Massey's other poems:
English Poetry. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org