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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Ernest Charles Jones (1819–1869)

The Song of the Lower Classes

WE plow and sow—we’re so very, very low

That we delve in the dirty clay,

Till we bless the plain with the golden grain,

And the vale with the fragrant hay.

Our place we know—we’re so very low,

’Tis down at the landlord’s feet:

We’re not too low the bread to grow,

But too low the bread to eat.

Down, down we go—we’re so very, very low—

To the hell of the deep-sunk mines,

But we gather the proudest gems that glow

When the crown of a despot shines.

And whenever he lacks, upon our backs

Fresh loads he deigns to lay:

We’re far too low to vote the tax,

But not too low to pay.

We’re low—we’re low—mere rabble, we know;

But at our plastic power,

The mold at the lordling’s feet will grow

Into palace and church and tower;

Then prostrate fall in the rich man’s hall,

And cringe at the rich man’s door:

We’re not too low to build the wall,

But too low to tread the floor.

We’re low,—we’re very, very low,—

Yet from our fingers glide

The silken flow and the robes that glow

Round the limbs of the sons of pride.

And what we get, and what we give,

We know, and we know our share:

We’re not too low the cloth to weave,

But too low the cloth to wear!

We’re low—we’re low—we’re very, very low;

And yet when the trumpets ring,

The thrust of a poor man’s arm will go

Through the heart of the proudest king.

We’re low—we’re low—our place we know,

We’re only the rank and file:

We’re not too low to kill the foe,

But too low to touch the spoil.