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David McKee Wright

(6 August 1869 – 5 February 1928 / Ballynaskeagh / County Down / Ireland)

Amelia Jane


In the lands away beyond the sea, where Khan and Sultan rule,
Where they drink their coffee thick and black, and sip the sherbet cool,
They have white Circassian girls for slaves, as well as the Negro black;
And it seems to me in our free land that slavery's coming back:
It's fenced about with custom and law, and they give it a prettier name.
But, spite of the paltry wage that's paid, it's slavery all the same.

In a handsome home in a stately town is worthy Mrs MacFee,
Chairwoman known of a Christian guild, for a noble dame is she:
Her doors are open to strangers all who call and leave their card;
But Amelia Jane, who left last week, declares the place was hard.
Surely Amelia Jane was wrong: she should have been happy to stay,
For she's only hanging around the town looking for work today.

Such a good woman is Mrs MacFee, toiling with voice and hand
In the cause of the poor little Indian girls away in a distant land;
Such a good woman is Mrs MacFee, for hers is an open door,
And her name's at the top of the charity list for the wives of the drunken poor.
But Amelia Jane has a hungry look, with hollows under the eyes:
She says she was starved, but everyone knows that Amelia Jane tells lies.

Such a good woman is Mrs MacFee, she has family prayers at night,
And she loves, she says, to make the lives of her poorer sisters bright.
Amelia Jane has a hardened heart: she talks of her weary feet,
And says that, in spite of all the prayers, she had never enough to eat.
It was hard to join the chorused words of 'Give us our daily bread',
And, after washing the dishes up, to stagger hungry to bed.

Once in the week Amelia Jane got out for an hour or two,
Once in a fortnight went to church with another slave she knew.
She never had time to read a book, and the changeless mill went round,
And nobody knew how she ached at night while body and soul were ground.
But these are the lies of Amelia Jane, and it's wrong to set them down,
For everyone knows that Mrs MacFee is the kindest woman in town.

Silly and light is Amelia Jane: she has no ideas of her own;
You never would think her the bright little girl that you once on a time had known.
She was clever enough when she went to school; she was pretty enough in her way;
She hasn't improved, her schoolmates think, when they met her in town today:
And it's all her fault, for, whatever the cause, I am sure that Mrs MacFee
Is a model mistress in every way, and with that you will all agree.

In the lands away beyond the sea, where Khan and Sultan rule,
Where they drink their coffee thick and black, and sip the sherbet cool,
They have white Circassian girls for slaves, as well as the Negro black;
And it seems to me in our free land that slavery's coming back:
It's fenced about with custom and law, and they give it a prettier name.
But, spite of the paltry wage that's paid, it's slavery all the same.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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