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Video: Bread and Roses | Joan Baez (lyrics included)

Bread and Roses

by James Oppenheim





As we go marching, marching
In the beauty of the day
A million darkened kitchens
A thousand mill lofts grey
Are touched with all the radiance
That a sudden sun discloses
For the people hear us singing
Bread and roses, bread and roses

As we go marching, marching
We battle too for men
For they are women's children
And we mother them again
Our lives shall not be sweated
From birth until life closes
Hearts starve as well as bodies
Give us bread, but give us roses

As we go marching, marching
Unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing
Their ancient call for bread
Smart art and love, and beauty
Their drudging spirits knew
Yes, it is bread we fight for
But we fight for roses, too

As we go marching, marching
We bring the greater days
The rising of the women
Means the rising of the race
No more the drudge and idler
Ten that toil where one reposes
But the sharing of life's glories
Bread and roses, bread and roses

Our lives shall not be sweated
From birth until life closes
Hearts starve as well as bodies
Bread and roses, bread and roses!

Public Domain

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Bread and Roses” is a political slogan as well as the name of an associated poem and song. It originated from a speech given by American women’s suffrage activist Helen Todd; a line in that speech about “bread for all, and roses too” inspired the title of the poem Bread and Roses by James Oppenheim. The poem was first published in The American Magazine in December 1911.

The phrase is commonly associated with the successful textile strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts, between January and March 1912, now often referred to as the “Bread and Roses strike”. The slogan pairing bread and roses, appealing for both fair wages and dignified conditions, found resonance.

Oppenheim’s poem has been translated into other languages and has been set to music by at least three composers. In the United States, the song gained a larger audience after World War II as part of the growing popularity of folk music. In 1974 the poem was set to music by Mimi FariƱa, and this version has been recorded by various artists, including Judy Collins, Joan Baez, Ani DiFranco and Utah Phillips. [text adapted from Wikipedia]

Women workers led the Lawrence textile strike of 1912, one of the most successful protest actions in the history of the United States. (Zinn Educational Project)

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