Bread and Roses

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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
Small 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!

The title of this piece originated in a speech given by American women’s suffrage activist Helen Todd; a line in that speech inspired the title of the poem Bread and Roses by James Oppenheim in 1911. In 1974 the poem was set a second time to music by Mimi Fariña, sister of Joan Baez, and recorded by Judy Collins and Ani DiFranco, among others. It is right and proper that women and men came together to produce such a powerful piece.

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