A Wreath of Amaranths for the Brow of Toil.

Weary, worn, and tired toilers,
Fainting on life’s dreary road,
Sinking though your greedy spoilers
Continue to whip and goad.
Though your limbs are stark and aching,
Hopes all blighted – prospects drear,
(Mere machines for money making),
Right shall conquer – never fear.
Curse them not who thus abuse you,
Envy not their gilded state,
Though despitefully they use you,
Yours shall prove the better fate.
For a God and not a demon
Rules this mighty mystic whole;
Guides the glorious aims of freemen
Fires with zeal the manly soul.
And by law of Right and Reason,
(Jurists of celestial birth),
Injustice is accused of treason
To the God of heaven and earth.
Wasted weaver ever toiling,
For thy pittance mean and poor,
When the summer sun is broiling,
Or the snowstorm bars the door –
In those threads thy finger worketh,
Now engrossing all thy mind,
A diviner meaning lurketh,
Which ‘tis thine to seek and find.
Seen by higher light – and truer,
All their earthly meanness flies,
Golden are they – bright and pure,
Fit for robes in fairer skies.
Drops of sweat, and tear drops tender,
Now are turned to precious stones,
Gemming with a royal splendour
Martyr’d labour’s victor crowns.
Work is worship – oh ye toilers!
Stand erect, and dare be poor;
Ye are greater than your spoilers,
Man is man – and who is more.
Scornful skeptics, though you doubt me,
And my cheerful faith deride,
Firm I stand, and none shall rout me,
God and truth are on my side.

Title:A Wreath of Amaranths for the Brow of Toil.

Author:Joshua Clarkson

Publication:The Bradford Observer

Published in:Bradford

Date:August 1st 1861

Keywords:industry, religion, work


At first this poem appears to be radical in its message in its depiction of the extremities of industrial exploitation, especially in the textile industry. However, it is in fact more religious than political in its ambitions, and advises stoicism in the face of hardship, envisioning a religious rather than economic deliverance. The act of work itself is raised to a sacred activity, invested with mystical meaning. – SR