Australian Folk Songs
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To All Free Labourers! (1891)
Fellow-workers, fellow-sufferers, fellow-victims of the strife
That now rages and embitters through the world the worker's life ;
Ye have failed to grasp the meaning of the Gospel that we preach !
Failed to grasp the glorious Gospel that puts Hope within your reach !
Know ye not that men are toiling, toiling, toiling day by day,
Heaping up for rich men, riches ; wasting their own lives away ;
Ploughing, sowing for the harvest, which for other men they reap ;
Spending all their lives in making wealth that other men will keep ?
Know ye not that wives and children of the workers toil and slave ?
Wearing out their wretched lives, at work from cradle to the grave,
So that idlers may be idle, so that wealth may be increased,
So that Dives may have leisure, may be from all toil released ?
Hear ye not the sobs of anguish forced from lips of haggard men,
As they see their dear ones dying--hunger--killed in foetid den ?
See ye not our wretched sisters, who their bodies sell for bread ?
Feel ye not how sad their souls are ? Has thy heart for them not bled ?
Know ye, brothers, that the freedom which to you the masters give,
Is but liberty to struggle for the wage on which you live ?
See ye not that by this struggling, you for less are forced to toil,
And the master takes the diff'rence to increase his share of spoil ?
Perchance ye know already these unchanging truths I've told !
Perchance for hungering children ye have touched the master's gold !
Courage, brothers ! With the workers ! Help no more the oppressor's hand !
This the only way to conquer-undivided when we stand.
All earth over are the masses rising up to overthrow
This accursed social system--founded on the people's woe.
Unrestricted competition shall give place to what we teach ;
This, the watchword of the workers: "Each for All and All for Each !"
From the Brisbane newspaper the Worker Saturday 28 November 1891, p. 2.
This poem is another of some 30 such lyrics that were published in the Worker between December 1890 and December 1891.
australian traditional songs . . . a selection by mark gregory