Treasure Island

John Arthur Phillips

(1842-1907 / Canada)

The Factory Girl


She wasn't the least bit pretty,
And only the least bit gay;
And she walked with a firm elastic tread,
In a business-like kind of way.
Her dress was of coarse, brown woollen,
Plainly but neatly made,
Trimmed with some common ribbon
Or cheaper kind of braid;
And a hat with a broken feather,
And shawl of a modest plaid.

Her face seemed worn and weary,
And traced with lines of care,
As her nut-brown tresses blew aside
In the keen December air;
Yet she was not old, scarce twenty,
And her form was full and sleek,
But her heavy eye, and tired step,
Seemed of wearisome toil to speak;
She worked as a common factory girl
For two dollars and a half a week.

Ten hours a day of labor
In a close, ill-lighted room;
Machinery's buzz for music,
Waste gas for sweet perfume;
Hot stifling vapors in summer,
Chill draughts on a winter's day,
No pause for rest or pleasure
On pain of being sent away;
So ran her civilized serfdom --
Four cents an hour the pay.

"A fair day's work," say the masters,
And "a fair day's pay," say the men;
There's a strike -- a rise in wages,
What effect to the poor girl then?
A harder struggle than ever
The honest path to keep;
And so sink a little lower,
Some humbler home to seek;
For living is dearer -- her wages,
Two dollars and a half a week.

A man gets thrice the money,
But then "a man's a man,
"And a woman surely can't expect
"To earn as much as he can."
Of his hire the laborer's worthy,
Be that laborer who it may;
If a woman can do a man's work
She should have a man's full pay,
Not to be left to starve -- or sin --
On forty cents a day.

Two dollars and a half to live on,
Or starve on, if you will;
Two dollars and a half to dress on,
And a hungry mouth to fill;
Two dollars and a half to lodge on
In some wretched hole or den,
Where crowds are huddled together,
Girls, and women, and men;
If she sins to escape her bondage
Is there room for wonder then.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

Do you like this poem?
0 person liked.
0 person did not like.

What do you think this poem is about?



Read poems about / on: girl, woman, work, money, women, winter, music, summer, together, home, pain, rose, running

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (The Factory Girl by John Arthur Phillips )

Enter the verification code :

There is no comment submitted by members..

PoemHunter.com Updates

New Poems

  1. Haiku- Anchor, DEEPAK KUMAR PATTANAYAK
  2. Luna Plena, Mihaela Pirjol
  3. I Sink Inside You, Asit Kumar Sanyal
  4. Buddy, Francie Lynch
  5. Love (Haiku), Jesus James Llorico
  6. some thing about you, akash mazumdar
  7. Shanghai breeze (I), Cigeng Zhang
  8. thinkings, akash mazumdar
  9. Momentous Days, Francie Lynch
  10. Haiku- Riddle, DEEPAK KUMAR PATTANAYAK

Poem of the Day

poet Robert Louis Stevenson

AT last she comes, O never more
In this dear patience of my pain
To leave me lonely as before,
Or leave my soul alone again.... Read complete »

   

Member Poem

Trending Poems

  1. 04 Tongues Made Of Glass, Shaun Shane
  2. The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
  3. Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
  4. Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
  5. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
  6. If, Rudyard Kipling
  7. Dreams, Langston Hughes
  8. Invictus, William Ernest Henley
  9. All the World's a Stage, William Shakespeare
  10. If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda

Trending Poets

[Hata Bildir]