Nonfiction > Upton Sinclair, ed. > The Cry for Justice

Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968).
The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest.  1915.
“Gunmen” in West Virginia
(“When the Leaves Come Out”)

“Paint Creek Miner”

(Written during the terrible strike of 1911–12)
THE HILLS are very bare and cold and lonely;
  I wonder what the future months will bring.
The strike is on—our strength would win, if only—
  O, Buddy, how I’m longing for the spring!
They’ve got us down—their martial lines enfold us;        5
  They’ve thrown us out to feel the winter’s sting,
And yet, by God, those curs can never hold us,
  Nor could the dogs of hell do such a thing!
It isn’t just to see the hills beside me
  Grow fresh and green with every growing thing;        10
I only want the leaves to come and hide me,
  To cover up my vengeful wandering.
I will not watch the floating clouds that hover
  Above the birds that warble on the wing;
I want to use this GUN from under cover—        15
  O, Buddy, how I’m longing for the spring!
You see them there, below, the damned scab-herders!
  Those puppets on the greedy Owners’ String;
We’ll make them pay for all their dirty murders—
  We’ll show them how a starveling’s hate can sting!        20
They riddled us with volley after volley;
  We heard their speeding bullets zip and ring,
But soon we’ll make them suffer for their folly—
  O, Buddy, how I’m longing for the spring!

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