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Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968).
The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest.  1915.
 
Song of the Lower Classes

By Ernest Jones

(Chartist leader and poet, 1819–1869; sentenced in 1848 to two years imprisonment)
 
WE plow and sow, we’re so very, very low,
  That we delve in the dirty clay;
Till we bless the plain with the golden grain,
  And the vale with the fragrant hay.
Our place we know, we’re so very, very low,        5
  ’Tis down at the landlord’s feet;
We’re not too low the grain to grow,
  But too low the bread to eat.
 
Down, down we go, we’re so very, very low,
  To the hell of the deep-sunk mines;        10
But we gather the proudest gems that glow,
  When the crown of the despot shines;
And when’er he lacks, upon our backs
  Fresh loads he deigns to lay;
We’re far too low to vote the tax,        15
  But not too low to pay.
 
We’re low, we’re low—we’re very, very low,—
  And yet from our fingers glide
The silken floss and the robes that glow
  Round the limbs of the sons of pride;        20
And what we get, and what we give,
  We know, and we know our share;
We’re not too low the cloth to weave,
  But too low the cloth to wear.
 
We’re low, we’re low, we’re very, very low,        25
  And yet when the trumpets ring,
The thrust of a poor man’s arm will go
  Through the heart of the proudest king.
We’re low, we’re low—mere rabble, we know—
  We’re only the rank and the file;        30
We’re not too low to kill the foe,
  But too low to share the spoil.
 
 
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