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Shade And Light

When ?


As the millstone is revolving, slow the grain is ground to duet ;
As the dross is separated, coming politicians must
Make new laws to suit the people, not for class, but good for all ;
Each to have the worth of labor, not the bitterness of gall
Which in days past, and the present--to the men who labor gave
For reward, a life of mis'ry--scarce existence, then the grave.
Let the grain from chaff be winnowed, and each man thus have his right--
Then ! the thief of others' profit will be vanquished in the fight.

Aye, the thief ! 'Tis no misnomer, he who takes that not his own
Doth deserve the title given, aud to such as he alone
Shall no mercy be extended on this our earthly sphere
When from sleep awakens Labor and the clarion voice we hear,
Hear the voices loud proclaiming--" Brethren, all in peace shall live !
Tim'rous ones, stand forth, be joyful, freedom unto you we give
From the thraldom which long bound you, from the galling chains set free,
Of the masters coldly jeering, smiling at your agony !"

Glorious news ! Co-operation, let the tidings onward roll.
Freedom's call, by workers welcomed, shall extend from pole to pole ;
Men who've fought against each other are now joined in one great cause--
To subdue the idling robber. Capital hath heed to pause
When that name contempt inspires and the lab'rer stays to ask--
"Why should we support the idler? Why should they in sunshine bask ?
Leaving us the sweat and toiling, rob us of our hard-earn'd pence,

Grudging us the crust we're eating, almost deem it an offence
That kind Nature hath endowed us with a form resembling theirs,
Though we live in wretched hovels and our life is full of cares,
Bidding us to 'Rest contented, Providence doth care for all.'
Those the platitudes they utter while we by the wayside fall,
And our daughters, shame to tell it, by their gold are deftly snared ;
E'en the wife, who should be sacred, from their vile lust is not spared.

Why should we bow down to Mammon ? Lick the hand that holds the scourge ?
Call them masters any longer ? Can we not from our midst purge
Hands of iron crushing labor and our aspirations high ?
There's but one answer to it, men, At the ballot-box they die !

* * *

Aye ! the masters who once held ye tremble now at Labor's might.
Severed are the bonds for ever ; ye are conquerors in the fight.
Aye ! you've gained the day of battle ; you no longer are the slave ;
Workers, o'er the world united let your motto be to save
Others from the bonds which bind them who have not joined Labor's cause ;
Tell them how they may gain freedom, urge them onward and not pause
Till their laws are so amended that oppression cannot be,
For when Labor works for Labor--only then are workers free !

-- L. A. P.


From the Wagga NSW newspaper the The Worker Saturday 6 July 1901 p. 2.


australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory