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Wed, 30 Sep 2009
Thomas Hood, now there is a name to conjure with. Funny, sad, happy, glad. Enjoy his story of a shirt. Unbelievable

 THE SONG OF THE SHIRT

       Thomas Hood,
One of the most lovable of English Poets, was equally
      great in comic and serious verse.  Only a powerful poet whose heart
had bled for the poor could have written these  moving
and burning verses. It is well to remember in reading them that
 their author could make us laugh as few others have ever done,
        and that it is usually those who see the comic side of life who can best
understand and most suitably express its serious and tender side.


With fingers weary and worn,
With eyelids heavy and red,
A woman sat, in unwomanly rags,
Plying her needle and thread
Stitch! stitch! stitch!
In poverty, hunger, and dirt,
And still with a voice of dolorous pitch
She sang the "Song of the Shirt."

"Work! work! work!
While the cock is crowing aloof!
And work work work,
Till the stars shine through the roof!
It's Oh! to be a slave
Along with the barbarous Turk,
Where woman has never a soul to save,
If this is Christian work!

"Work work work,
Till the brain begins to swim;
Work work work,
Till the eyes are heavy and dim!
Seam, and gusset, and band,
Band, and gusset, and seam,
Till over the buttons I fall asleep,
And sew them on in a dream!

"Oh, Men, with Sisters dear!
Oh, men, with Mothers and Wives!
It is not linen you're wearing out,
But human creatures' lives!
Stitch stitch stitch,
In poverty, hunger and dirt,
Sewing at once, with a double thread,
A Shroud as well as a Shirt.

"But why do I talk of Death?
That Phantom of grisly bone,
I hardly fear its terrible shape,
It seems so like my own
It seems so like my own,
Because of the fasts I keep;
Oh, God! that bread should be so dear
And flesh and blood so cheap!

"Work work work!
My labour never flags;
And what are its wages? A bed of straw,
A crust of bread and rags.
That shattered roof this naked floor
A table a broken chair
And a wall so blank, my shadow I thank
For sometimes falling there!

"Work work work!
From weary chime to chime, 
Work work work,
As prisoners work for crime!
Band, and gusset, and seam,
Seam, and gusset, and band,
Till the heart is sick, and the brain benumbed,
As well as the weary hand.

"Work work work,
In the dull December light,
And work work work,
When the weather is warm and bright
While underneath the eaves
The brooding swallows cling
As if to show me their sunny backs
And twit me with the spring.

"Oh! but to breathe the breath
Of the cowslip and primrose sweet
With the sky above my head,
And the grass beneath my feet;
For only one short hour
To feel as I used to feel,  
Before I knew the woes of want
And the walk that costs a meal!

"Oh! but for one short hour!
A respite however brief!
No bless'd leisure for Love or Hope,
But only time for Grief!
A little weeping would ease my heart,
But in their briny bed

My tears must stop, for every drop
Hinders needle and thread!" 

With fingers weary and worn,
With eyelids heavy and red,
A woman sat in unwomanly rags,
Plying her needle and thread

Stitch! stitch! stitch!
In poverty, hunger, and dirt,
And still with a voice of dolorous pitch,
Would that its tone could reach the Rich!
She sang this "Song of the Shirt!"

Thomas Hood

Thomas Hood (1799-1845)
Posted 19:28


1 comment


If you love this poem then tell me.
I would just like to invite everybody to come and read a poem from over a hundred years ago. Read between the lines and you have this brilliant telling of what life was like back them. wonderful. Love Dodie of Dodie's Dream World xxxx


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