Franklin P. Adams

(15 November 1881 – 23 March 1960 / Chicago, Illinois)

A Psalm of Labouring Life


Tell me not, in doctored numbers,
Life is but a name for work!
For the labour that encumbers
Me I wish that I could shirk.

Life is phony! Life is rotten!
And the wealthy have no soul;
Why should you be picking cotton,
Why should I be mining coal?

Not employment and not sorrow
Is my destined end or way;
But to act that each tomorrow
Finds me idler than today.

Work is long, and plutes are lunching;
Money is the thing I crave;
But my heart continues punching
Funeral time-clocks to the grave.

In the world's uneven battle,
In the swindle known as life,
Be not like the stockyard's cattle--
Stick your partner with the knife!

Trust no boss, however pleasant!
Capital is but a curse!
Strike,--strike in the living present!
Fill, oh fill the bulging purse.!

Lives of strikers all remind us
We can make our lives a crime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Bills for double overtime.

Charges that, perhaps another,
Working for a stingy ten
Bucks a day, some mining brother
Seeing, shall walk out again.

Let us, then, be up and striking,
Discontent with all of it;
Still undoing, still disliking,
Learn to labour--and to quit.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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