Bread and Roses

This song is based on a poem by James Oppenheim (1882-1932), published in 1911, although many people say that it was inspired by a banner used a textile workers strike in America in 1912.

It has been set to a number of tunes:  Rise up Singing lists Caroline Kohsleet (who other sources name as Caroline Kohlsaat) and Mimi Fari├▒a.   Artists who have performed it include Judy Collins, John Denver and Utah Phillips.


As we go marching, marching, in the beauty of the day,
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts gray,
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 a sharing of life's glories: Bread and roses, bread and roses.

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