The night had sunk along the city,
It was a bleak and cheerless hour;
The wild-winds sung their solemn ditty
To cold, grey wall and blackened tower.

The factories gave forth lurid fires
From pent-up hells within their breast;
E’en Ætna’s burning wrath expires,
But man’s volcanoes never rest.

Women, children, men were toiling,
Locked in dungeons close and black,
Life’s fast-failing thread uncoiling
Round the wheel, the modern rack!

E’en the very stars seemed troubled
With the mingled fume and roar;
The city like a cauldron bubbled,
With its poison boiling o’er.

For the reeking walls environ
Mingled groups of death and life
Fellow-workmen, flesh and iron,
Side by side in deadly strife.

There, amid the wheel’s dull droning
And the heavy, choking air,
Strength’s repining, labour’s groaning,
And the throttling of despair,—

With the dust around them whirling,
And the white, cracked, fevered lips,
And the shuttle’s ceaseless twirling,
And the short life’s toil-eclipse:

Stood half-naked infants shivering
With heart-frost amid the heat;
Manhood’s shrunken sinews quivering
To the engine’s horrid beat!

Woman’s aching heart was throbbing
With her wasting children’s pain,
While red Mammon’s hand was robbing
God’s thought-treasure from their brain!

Yet the master proudly shows
To foreign strangers factory scenes:
“These are men—and engines those—”
“I see nothing but—machines!”

Hark! amid the bloodless slaughter
Comes the wailing of despair:
“Oh! for but one drop of water!
“Oh ! for but one breath of air!

“One fresh touch of dewy grasses,
“Just to cool this shrivelled hand!
“Just to catch one breeze that passes
“From our blessed promised LAND!”

No! though ’twas night of summer
With a scent of new mown hay
From where the moon, the fairies’ mummer,
On distant fields enchanted lay!

On the lealands slept the cattle,
Slumber through the forest ran,
While, in Mammon’s mighty battle
Man was immolating man!

While the great, with power unstable,
Crushed the pauper’s heart of pain,
As though the rich were heirs of Abel
And the poor the sons of Cain.

While the priest, from drowsy riot,
Staggered past his church unknown,
Where his God in the great quiet,
Preached the livelong night alone!

Still the bloated trader passes,
Lord of loom and lord of mill;
On his pathway rush the masses,
Crushed beneath his stubborn will.

Eager slaves, a willing heriot,
O’er their brethren’s living road
Drive him in his golden chariot,
Quickened by his golden goad.

Young forms—with their pulses stifled,
Young heads—with eldered brain,
Young hearts—of their spirit rifled,
Young lives—sacrificed in vain:

There they lie—the withered corses,
With not one regretful thought,
Trampled by thy fierce steam-horses,
England’s mighty Juggernaut!

Over all the solemn heaven
Arches, like a God’s reproof
At the offerings man has driven
To Hell’s altars, loom and woof!

And the winds with anthems ringing,
Cleaving clouds, and splitting seas,
Seem unto the People singing :
“Break your chains as we do these!”

And human voices too resound:
Gallant hearts! take better cheer!
The strongest chains by which you’re bound,
Are but the chains of your own fear!

Weavers!   ‘Tis your shrouds you’re weaving,
Labourers!  ‘Tis your graves you ope;
Leave tyrants toil-deceiving!
Rise to freedom!   Wake to hope!

Still, the reign of guilt to further,
Lord and slave the crime divide:
For the master’s sin is murder,
And the workman’s—suicide!

Up in factory!   Up in mill!
Freedom’s mighty phalanx swell!
You have God and Nature still.
What have they, but Gold and Hell.

Fear ye not your masters’ power;
Men are strong when men unite;
Fear ye not one stormy hour:
Banded millions need not fight.

Then, how many a happy village
Shall be smiling o’er the plain,
Amid the corn-field’s pleasant tillage,
And the orchard’s rich domain!

While, with rotting roof and rafter,
Drops the factory, stone by stone,
Echoing loud with childhood’s laughter,
Where it rung with manhood’s groan!

And flowers will grow in blooming-time,
Where prison-doors their jarring cease:
For liberty will banish crime—
Contentment is the best Police.

Then the palaces will moulder,
With their labour-draining joys;
For the nations, growing older,
Are too wise for royal toys.

And nobility will fleet,
With robe, and spur, and scutcheon vain;
For Coronets were but a cheat,
To hide the brand upon a Cain!

And cannon, bayonet, sword and shield,
The implements of murder’s trade,
Shall furrow deep the fertile field,
Converted into hoe and spade!

While art may still its votaries call;
Commerce claim and give its due;
Supplying still the wants of all,
But not the wastings of the few.

Gathering fleets may still resort,
With snowy canvass proudly bent,
For bearing wealth from port to port
But not for war or banishment!

Then up, in one united band,
Both farming slave and factory-martyr!
Remember, that, to keep the LAND,
The best way is—to gain the CHARTER!

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