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Ask the old why they weep, and not the children,

For the outside earth is cold, And we young ones stand without, in our bewildering,

And the graves are for the old !”

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6. True," say the young children, “it may happen

That we die before our time!
Little Alice died last year — the grave is shapen

Like a snowball, in the rime.
We looked into the pit prepared to take her -

Was no room for any work, in the close clay:
From the sleep wherein she lieth none will wake her,

Crying, “Get up, little Alice ! it is day.'
If you listen by that grave, in sun and shower,

With your ear down, little Alice never cries ! -
Could we see her face, be sure we should not know her,

For the smile has time for growing in her eyes, -
And merry go her moments, lulled and stilled in

The shroud, by the kirk-chime !
It is good when it happens,” say the children,

" That we die before our time!”

Alas, the wretched children! they are seeking

Death in life, as best to have!
They are binding up their hearts away from breaking,

With a cerement from the grave.
Go out, children, from the mine and from the city –

Sing out, children, as the little thrushes do-
Pluck you handfuls of the meadow-cowslips pretty -

Laugh aloud, to feel your fingers let them through. But they answer, “ Are your cowslips of the meadows

Like our weeds anear the mine?
Leave us quiet in the dark of the cold shadows,

From your pleasures fair and fine!

“For oh," say the children, “we are weary,

And we cannot run or leap-
If we cared for any meadows, it were merely

To drop down in them and sleep.
Our knees tremble sorely in the stooping-

We fall upon our faces, trying to go;
And, underneath our heavy eyelids drooping,

The reddest flower would look as pale as snow.

For, all day, we drag our burden tiring,

Through the coal-dark, underground Or, all day, we drive the wheels of iron

In the factories, round and round. “For, all day, the wheels are droning, turning,

Their wind comes in our faces, Till our hearts turn,- our heads, with pulses burning,

And the walls turn in their placesTurns the sky in the high window blank and reeling –

Turns the long light that droppeth down the wall Turn the black flies that crawl along the ceiling

All are turning, all the day, and we with all!
And all day the iron wheels are droning;

And sometimes we could pray,
O ye wheels,’ (breaking out in a mad moaning,) –

• Stop! be silent for to-day!!


Ay! be silent! Let them hear each other breathing

For a moment, mouth to mouth –
Let them touch each other's hands, in a fresh wreathing

Of their tender human youth!
Let them feel that this cold metallic motion

Is not all the life God fashions or reveals
Let them prove their inward souls against the notion

That they live in you, or under you, O wheels !. Still, all day, the iron wheels go onward,

As if Fate in each were stark, And the children's souls, which God is calling sunward,

Spin on blindly in the dark.

Now tell the poor young children, O my brothers,

That they look to Him and pray-
So the blessed One, who blesseth all the others,

Will bless them another day.
They answer, “Who is God that He should hear us,

While the rushing of the iron wheels is stirred ?
When we sob aloud, the human creatures near us

Pass by, hearing not, or answer not a word!
And we hear not (for the wheels in their resounding)

Strangers speaking at the door:
Is it likely God, with angels singing round Him,

Hears our weeping any more?

“Two words, indeed, of praying we remember;

And at midnight's hour of harm,-
Our Father,' looking upward in the chamber,

We say softly for a charm.
We know no other words, except •Our Father,'

And we think that, in some pause of angels' song, God may pluck them with the silence sweet to gather,

And hold both within His right hand which is strong Our Father!' If He heard us, He would surely

(For they call him good and mild) Answer, smiling down the steep world very purely,

Come and rest with me, my child.'

“ But, no!” say the children, weeping faster,

“He is speechless as a stone;
And they tell us, of His image is the master

Who commands us to work on.
Go to!” say the children,— “Up in Heaven,

Dark, wheel-like, turning clouds are all we find !
Do not mock us; grief has left us unbelieving,—

We look up for God, but tears have made us blind.'. Do you hear the children weeping and disproving,

O my brothers, what you teach? For God's possible is taught by His world's loving-.

And the children doubt of each.

And well may the children weep before you ;

They are weary ere they rnn;
They have never seen the sunshine, nor the glory

Which is brighter than the sun:
They know the grief of men, but not the wisdom,

Are bitter with despairing, but not calm -
Are slaves, without the liberty in Christdom.-

Are martyrs, by the pang without the palm,-
Are worn as if with age, yet unretrievingly

No dear remembrance keep,-
Are orphans of the earthly love and heavenly:

Let them weep! let them weep !

They look up, with their pale and sunken faces,

And their look is dread to see,
For you think you see their angels in their places,

With eyes meant for Deity;

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“How long,” they say, “how long, 0 cruel nation,

Will you stand, to move the world, on a child's heart, Stifle down with a mailed heel its palpitation,

And tread onward to your throne amid the mart?
Our blood splashes upwards, 0 our tyrants,

And your purple shows your path;
But the child's sob curseth deeper in the silence

Than the strong man in his wrath!”


Thomas Hood,

With fingers weary and worn,

With eyelids heavy and red,
A woman sat in unwomanly rags,
Plying her needle and thread

Stitch! stitch! stitch!
In poverty, hunger, and dirt,

And still with a voice of dolorous pitch
She sang the " Song of the Shirt!"

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Sewing at once, with a double thread,

A shroud as well as a shirt.

“But why do I talk of Death ?

That phantom of grisly bone,
I hardly fear his terrible shape,

It seems so like my own —
It seems so like my own,

Because of the fasts I keep;
Oh, God! that bread should be so dear,

And flesh and blood so cheap!

“Work — work — work!

My labor never flags;
And what are its wages ? A bed of straw,

A crust of bread — and rags.
That shatter'd roof - and this naked floor -

A table - a broken chair
And a wall so blank, my shadow I thank

For sometimes falling there!

• Work - work - work! From weary chime to chime,

Work — work — work —
As prisoners work for crime !

Band, and gusset, and seam,

Seam, and gusset, and band, Till the heart is sick, and the brain benumb’d,

As well as the weary hand.

• Work — work — work,
In the dull December light,

And work — work — work,
When the weather is warm and bright -
While underneath the eaves

The brooding swallows cling,
As if to show me their sunny backs

And twit me with the spring.

“Oh! but to breathe the breath Of the cowslip and primrose sweet

With the sky above my head, And the grass beneath my feet, For only one short hour

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