General Discussion
 General Discussion 

eMule -> The Poetry Archive -> Forums -> General Discussion

Goto Thread: PreviousNext
Goto: Forum ListMessage ListNew TopicSearchLog In
Smaller: Union Poems
Posted by: drpeternsz (
Date: January 22, 2005 09:04PM

Got any good union poems or songs?


I was remembering a bit of an old planterís song
came back in the civil rights marches went

Oh freedom
oh freedom
oh freedom over me
and before Iíll be a slave
Iíll be buried in my grave
and have oh freedom over me

It seems like a thousand yours I worked for someone else

cans in a box
boxes beneath the shelf
Yes sir Yes sir all alone the line sir
Matched them up line them up

Pour the drinks how do you do that?
Use their books teach their thoughts
Hold the kids in a row Label them
A B C send them to the dictionary
All in a row hold on to my pride and my dignity

oh freedom
oh freedom over me
and before Iíll be a slave
Iíll be buried in my grave
and have oh freedom over me

Be honest as honest can be
O yes I broke the drill bit I want to keep my job

No I wonít tell you whatís on my mind
Unions are the saviors of workmen like me

All my life 1 2 3 stand in line to time away my day
punch the clock keep their time perfect
but come the benefits Ė they fudge
come to safety they put a notice on the wall
thatís it Youíre a sloppy worker if you get caught
You never lift anything high enough
to hurt that back did you?
didnít you hurt yourself on your own time son?

oh freedom over me
and before Iíll be a slave
Iíll be buried in my grave
and have oh freedom over me

Patronizing till your last day Donít need any union here
Trust us Trust us In the hallway the men laugh
The women pee their pants

One break a day fifteen minutes Do it then
Frozen hands on the meat line Calluses from filing plates

What that nick from Huh Iíll tell you the time when
Telling stories against the trials

and before Iíll be a slave
Iíll be buried in my grave
and have oh freedom over me

Same thing in college just looks different
Do what they say keep your job
Make a difference move on donít fit in

blah blah complain itís all the same
One manís bonus is another manís bane man

buy your own pencils give up your time
doesnít mean anything two hours to work
two hours back sorry honey, a student staff meeting today

cut the pie one slice at a time the pie gets small
work through the night teacherís get paid enough already right?
quality control standard match and measure
phony scale A B C 1 2 3 march in step
follow me

Iíll be buried in my grave
and have oh freedom over me

Post Edited (01-22-05 20:06)

Re: Smaller: Union Poems
Posted by: lg (
Date: January 23, 2005 02:05AM

The Death Of Craftsmanship
---John W. Chance

Click here to listen to "The Death of Craftmanship" Derisive comments didn't work;
The old man just kept on working,
As if he never heard the many scathing remarks.
And the more that he produced
The better and quicker he became,
Which only served to worsen the problem.
His perspective, although narrow, was enhanced by concentration,
And tempered with the wisdom and work ethic of the "Old-School."
While contributing significantly to his job.
This only deepened the jealousy and enmity of his Supervisor.
Then, trumped-up accusations of failures,
Assignments missed that were never initially communicated,
And false blaming of inadequacies finally found their mark.
In his vulnerability the old man kept silent,.
Kept on working, perplexed, but harder and longer than ever.
Thinking he would surely break,
The Supervisor piled on more and more work.
The old man worked even harder and longer
And was criticized more and more.
Then one day the old man's body gave up,
And he had a massive heart attack.
Without the old man's production
The work stacked up.
The Supervisor redistributed the load to other workers,
But they were not familiar with the duties or used to the load.
Project after project missed important deadlines,
And the quality of the work that was performed was very poor.
Many clients were lost, whole accounts closed down,
And new business could not be found anywhere.
Eventually the business failed,
Dying as certain a death as had the old man,
For the same reasons, and by the same hand.

Re: Smaller: Union Poems
Posted by: IanB (
Date: January 23, 2005 08:11AM

'I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night'
by Alfred Hayes (1925)

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
Alive as you and me.
Says I "But Joe, you're ten years dead."
"I never died" said he,
"I never died" said he.

"In Salt Lake, Joe," says I to him,
him standing by my bed,
"They framed you on a murder charge."
Says Joe, "But I ain't dead,"
Says Joe, "But I ain't dead."

"The Copper Bosses killed you Joe,
they shot you Joe" says I.
"Takes more than guns to kill a man"
Says Joe "I didn't die"
Says Joe "I didn't die."

And standing there as big as life
and smiling with his eyes,
Says Joe "What they can never kill
went on to organize,
went on to organize."

From San Diego up to Maine,
in every mine and mill,
where working-men defend their rights,
it's there you find Joe Hill,
it's there you find Joe Hill!

I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night,
alive as you and me.
Says I "But Joe, you're ten years dead."
"I never died" said he,
"I never died" said he.

I believe Iíve heard this sung with the line ĎSays I ďBut Joe, youíre ten years deadĒ changed to ĎĒBut JoeĒ I said ďyouíre ten years deadĒ, which gives a nice internal rhyme. Not sure which version is correct.


Post Edited (01-23-05 07:49)

Re: Smaller: Union Poems
Posted by: JohnnySansCulo (
Date: January 23, 2005 11:50AM

Union Maid - Woody Guthrie

There once was a union maid, she never was afraid
Of goons and ginks and company finks and the deputy sheriffs who made the raid.
She went to the union hall when a meeting it was called,
And when the Legion boys come 'round
She always stood her ground.

Oh, you can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union,
I'm sticking to the union, I'm sticking to the union.
Oh, you can't scare me, I'm sticking to the union,
I'm sticking to the union 'til the day I die.

This union maid was wise to the tricks of company spies,
She couldn't be fooled by a company stool, she'd always organize the guys.
She always got her way when she struck for better pay.
She'd show her card to the National Guard
And this is what she'd say:


You gals who want to be free, just take a tip from me;
Get you a man who's a union man and join the ladies' auxiliary.
Married life ain't hard when you got a union card,
A union man has a happy life when he's got a union wife.


Re: Smaller: Union Poems
Posted by: JohnnySansCulo (
Date: January 23, 2005 11:53AM

<[] />
I can't get it to hyperlink....and theres an amazingly annoying popup too...word of warning, otherwise a good site

Post Edited (01-23-05 10:56)

Re: Smaller: Union Poems
Posted by: Linda (
Date: January 23, 2005 06:55PM

The Blackleg Miners

Oh, early in the evenin', just after dark,
The blackleg miners creep te wark,
Wi' their moleskin trousers an' dorty short,
There go the backleg miners !

They take their picks an' doon they go
Te dig the coal that lies belaw,
An' there's not a woman in this toon-aw*
Will look at a blackleg miner.

Oh, Delaval is a terrible place.
They rub wet clay in a blackleg's face,
An' roond the pit-heaps they run a foot
Wi' the dorty blackleg miners.

Now, don't go near the Seghill mine.
Across the way they stretch a line,
Te catch the throat an' break the spine
O' the dorty backleg miners.

They'll take your tools an' duds as well,
An' hoy them doon the pit o' hell.
It's doon ye go, an' fare ye well,
Ye dorty blackleg miners !

Se join the union while ye may.
Don't wait till your dyin' day,
For that may not be far away,
Ye dorty blackleg miners !

Re: Smaller: Union Poems
Posted by: Linda (
Date: January 23, 2005 06:58PM

Pastures of Plenty
(Woody Guthrie)

It's a mighty hard row that my poor hands have hoed
My poor feet have traveled a hot dusty road
Out of your Dust Bowl and Westward we rolled
And your deserts were hot and your mountains were cold

I worked in your orchards of peaches and prunes
I slept on the ground in the light of the moon
On the edge of the city you'll see us and then
We come with the dust and we go with the wind

California, Arizona, I harvest your crops
Well its North up to Oregon to gather your hops
Dig the beets from your ground, cut the grapes from your vine
To set on your table your light sparkling wine

Green pastures of plenty from dry desert ground
From the Grand Coulee Dam where the waters run down
Every state in the Union us migrants have been
We'll work in this fight and we'll fight till we win

It's always we rambled, that river and I
All along your green valley, I will work till I die
My land I'll defend with my life if need be
Cause my pastures of plenty must always be free

Copyright Ludlow Music, Inc.

Re: Smaller: Union Poems
Posted by: rikki (
Date: January 23, 2005 07:26PM

Saint Peter

by Henry Lawson (1893)

Now, I think there is a likeness
'Twixt St Peter's life and mine
For he did a lot of trampin'
Long ago in Palestine.
He was "union" when the workers
First began to organise,
And I'm glad that old St Peter
Keeps the gate of Paradise.

When the ancient agitator
And his brothers carried swags,
I've no doubt he very often
Tramped with empty tucker-bags;
And I'm glad he's Heaven's picket,
For I hate explainin' things,
And he'll think a union ticket
Just as good as Whitely King's.

He denied the Saviour's union,
Which was weak of him, no doubt;
But perhaps his feet was blistered
And his boots had given out.
And the bitter storm was rushin'
On the bark and on the slabs,
And a cheerful fire was blazin',
And the hut was full of "scabs".

When I reach the great head-station Ė
Which is somewhere "off the track" Ė
I won't want to talk with angels
Who have never been out back ;
They might bother me with offers
Of a banjo Ė meanin' well Ė
And a pair of wings to fly with,
When I only want a spell.

I'll just ask for old St Peter,
And I think, when he appears,
I will only have to tell him
That I carried swag for years.
"I've been on the track," I'll tell him,
"an' I done the best I could,"
And he'll understand me better
Than the other angels would.

He won't try to get a chorus
Out of lungs that's worn to rags,
Or to graft the wings on shoulders
That is stiff with humpin' swags.
But I'll rest about the station
Where the work-bell never rings,
Till they blow the final trumpet
And the Great Judge sees to things.

Re: Smaller: Union Poems
Posted by: lg (
Date: January 23, 2005 09:44PM

They Who Tread the Path of Labor
---Henry Van Dyke

They who tread the path of labor follow where My feet have trod;
They who work without complaining, do the holy will of God;
Nevermore thou needest seek me; I am with thee everywhere;
Raise the stone, and thou shalt find Me, clease the wood and I am there.

Where the many toil together, there am I among My own;
Where the tired workman sleepeth, there am I with him alone:
I, the Peace that passeth knowledge, dwell amid the daily strife;
I, the Bread of Heav'n am broken in the sacrement of life.

Every task, however simple, sets the soul that does it free;
Every deed of love and mercy, done to man is done to Me.
Nevermore thou needest seek me; I am with thee everywhere;
Raise the stone, and thou shalt find Me; cleave the wood, and I am there.


Re: Smaller: Union Poems
Posted by: lg (
Date: January 24, 2005 12:14AM

What Work Is
---Philip Levine

We stand in the rain in a long line
waiting at Ford Highland Park. For work.
You know what work is--if you're
old enough to read this you know what
work is, although you may not do it.
Forget you. This is about waiting,
shifting from one foot to another.
Feeling the light rain falling like mist
into your hair, blurring your vision
until you think you see your own brother
ahead of you, maybe ten places.
You rub your glasses with your fingers,
and of course it's someone else's brother,
narrower across the shoulders than
yours but with the same sad slouch, the grin
that does not hide the stubbornness,
the sad refusal to give in to
rain, to the hours wasted waiting,
to the knowledge that somewhere ahead
a man is waiting who will say, "No,
we're not hiring today," for any
reason he wants. You love your brother,
now suddenly you can hardly stand
the love flooding you for your brother,
who's not beside you or behind or
ahead because he's home trying to
sleep off a miserable night shift
at Cadillac so he can get up
before noon to study his German.
Works eight hours a night so he can sing
Wagner, the opera you hate most,
the worst music ever invented.
How long has it been since you told him
you loved him, held his wide shoulders,
opened your eyes wide and said those words,
and maybe kissed his cheek? You've never
done something so simple, so obvious,
not because you're too young or too dumb,
not because you're jealous or even mean
or incapable of crying in
the presence of another man, no,
just because you don't know what work is.


Re: Smaller: Union Poems
Posted by: Marty (
Date: January 24, 2005 12:19AM

The Curse of a Nurse
by Mary Williams

The gift of healing others, given to a nurse
When in the hands of corporate minds
Becomes a selfless curse.

Natural instincts of the healer, tending to her flock
Can not be measured in the time
That ticks the corporate clock.

Her devinely given spirit, strength of holy steel
Pause the choking timeclock hands
While stealing time to kneel.

Behind a desk the King, ignores the nurse's plight
She takes her work too seriously
And takes it home at night.

While kings play games with kings, toasting finer things
Like business deals and dirty jokes
The nightingale still sings.

Until her voice is weakened, by the corporate mind
Her selfless gift becomes a curse
To which she must resign.

Post Edited (01-23-05 23:24)

Re: Smaller: Union Poems
Posted by: lg (
Date: January 24, 2005 12:26AM

The Day is Done<br />

---Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The day is done, and the darkness
Falls from the wings of Night,
As a feather is wafted downward
From an eagle in his flight.

I see the lights of the village
Gleam through the rain and the mist,
And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me
That my soul cannot resist:

A feeling of sadness and longing,
That is not akin to pain,
And resembles sorrow only
As the mist resembles the rain.

Come, read to me some poem,
Some simple and heartfelt lay,
That shall soothe this restless feeling,
And banish the thoughts of day.

Not from the grand old masters,
Not from the bards sublime,
Whose distant footsteps echo
Through the corridors of Time.

For, like strains of martial music,
Their mighty thoughts suggest
Life's endless toil and endeavor;
And to-night I long for rest.

Read from some humbler poet,
Whose songs gushed from his heart,
As showers from the clouds of summer,
Or tears from the eyelids start;

Who, through long days of labor,
And nights devoid of ease,
Still heard in his soul the music
Of wonderful melodies.

Such songs have power to quiet
The restless pulse of care,
And come like the benediction
That follows after prayer.

Then read from the treasured volume
The poem of thy choice,
And lend to the rhyme of the poet
The beauty of thy voice.

And the night shall be filled with music
And the cares, that infest the day,
Shall fold their tents, like the Arabs,
And as silently steal away.


Re: Smaller: Union Poems
Posted by: lg (
Date: January 24, 2005 12:57AM

The Factory Girl
---John Arthur Phillips

She wasn't the least bit pretty,
And only the least bit gay;
And she walked with a firm elastic tread,
In a business-like kind of way.
Her dress was of coarse, brown woollen,
Plainly but neatly made,
Trimmed with some common ribbon
Or cheaper kind of braid;
And a hat with a broken feather,
And shawl of a modest plaid.

Her face seemed worn and weary,
And traced with lines of care,
As her nut-brown tresses blew aside
In the keen December air;
Yet she was not old, scarce twenty,
And her form was full and sleek,
But her heavy eye, and tired step,
Seemed of wearisome toil to speak;
She worked as a common factory girl
For two dollars and a half a week.

Ten hours a day of labor
In a close, ill-lighted room;
Machinery's buzz for music,
Waste gas for sweet perfume;
Hot stifling vapors in summer,
Chill draughts on a winter's day,
No pause for rest or pleasure
On pain of being sent away;
So ran her civilized serfdom --
Four cents an hour the pay.

"A fair day's work," say the masters,
And "a fair day's pay," say the men;
There's a strike -- a rise in wages,
What effect to the poor girl then?
A harder struggle than ever
The honest path to keep;
And so sink a little lower,
Some humbler home to seek;
For living is dearer -- her wages,
Two dollars and a half a week.

A man gets thrice the money,
But then "a man's a man,
"And a woman surely can't expect
"To earn as much as he can."
Of his hire the laborer's worthy,
Be that laborer who it may;
If a woman can do a man's work
She should have a man's full pay,
Not to be left to starve -- or sin --
On forty cents a day.

Two dollars and a half to live on,
Or starve on, if you will;
Two dollars and a half to dress on,
And a hungry mouth to fill;
Two dollars and a half to lodge on
In some wretched hole or den,
Where crowds are huddled together,
Girls, and women, and men;
If she sins to escape her bondage
Is there room for wonder then?


Re: Smaller: Union Poems
Posted by: Marty (
Date: January 24, 2005 11:17AM

I especially liked "Factory Girl" by John Arthur Phillips. I tried to find more of his work, but only that particular poem came up. If you have time, could you post a link to some others by him?

Re: Smaller: Union Poems
Posted by: lg (
Date: January 24, 2005 12:32PM

I don't think Phillips wrote very much. Here's all I could find:

[] />


Re: Smaller: Union Poems
Posted by: Pam Adams (
Date: January 24, 2005 12:52PM

The Sons Of Martha

The Sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited that good part;
But the Sons of Martha favour their Mother of the careful soul and the troubled heart.
And because she lost her temper once, and because she was rude to the Lord her Guest,
Her Sons must wait upon Mary's Sons, world without end, reprieve, or rest.

It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and cushion the shock.
It is their care that the gear engages; it is their care that the switches lock.
It is their care that the wheels run truly; it is their care to embark and entrain,
Tally, transport, and deliver duly the Sons of Mary by land and main.

They say to mountains Be ye removŤd.'' They say to the lesser floodsBe dry.''
Under their rods are the rocks reprovŤd---they are not afraid of that which is high.
Then do the hill-tops shake to the summit---then is the bed of the deep laid bare,
That the Sons of Mary may overcome it, pleasantly sleeping and unaware.

They finger Death at their gloves' end where they piece and repiece the living wires.
He rears against the gates they tend: they feed him hungry behind their fires.
Early at dawn, ere men see clear, they stumble into his terrible stall,
And hale him forth like a haltered steer, and goad and turn him till evenfall.

To these from birth is Belief forbidden; from these till death is Relief afar.
They are concerned with matters hidden---under the earthline their altars are---
The secret fountains to follow up, waters withdrawn to restore to the mouth,
And gather the floods as in a cup, and pour them again at a city's drouth.

They do not preach that their God will rouse them a little before the nuts work loose.
They do not preach that His Pity allows them to drop their job when they damn-well choose.
As in the thronged and the lighted ways, so in the dark and the desert they stand,
Wary and watchful all their days that their brethren's ways may be long in the land.

Raise ye the stone or cleave the wood to make a path more fair or flat;
Lo, it is black already with the blood some Son of Martha spilled for that!
Not as a ladder from earth to Heaven, not as a witness to any creed,
But simple service simply given to his own kind in their common need.

And the Sons of Mary smile and are blessŤd---they know the Angels are on their side.
They know in them is the Grace confessŤd, and for them are the Mercies multiplied.
They sit at the feet---they hear the Word---they see how truly the Promise runs.
They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and---the Lord He lays it on Martha's Sons!

--Rudyard Kipling

Re: Smaller: Union Poems
Posted by: Marty (
Date: January 24, 2005 01:32PM

Thanks Les. I think these would make a good study.... and topic for discussion.


Re: Smaller: Union Poems
Posted by: Pam Adams (
Date: January 24, 2005 08:41PM

Okay, now I've got the 'Pretty Red Wing' version running in my head.


Sorry, only registered users may post in this forum.
This poetry forum at powered by Phorum.