James Oppenheim

(1882-1932 / United States)

Biography of James Oppenheim

James Oppenheim (1882-1932), was an American poet, novelist, and editor.

A lay analyst and early follower of C. G. Jung, Oppenheim was also the founder and editor of The Seven Arts, an important early 20th-century literary magazine. Oppenheim depicted labor troubles with Fabian and suffragist themes in his novel, The Nine-Tenths (1911) and in his famous poem Bread and Roses (1911). The slogan Bread and Roses is now commonly associated with the pivotal 1912 textile workers' strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts. The poem was later set to music in 1976 by Mimi Fariña and again in 1990 by John Denver.

Oppenheim was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on May 24, 1882, the son of Joseph and Matilda (Schloss) Oppenheim. He studied at Columbia University. Oppenheim married Lucy Seckel and had two children, Ralph and James Jr. (alias Garrett)

Oppenheim was assistant head worker at the Hudson Guild Settlement in New York from 1901-03. He then worked as a teacher and acting superintendent at the Hebrew Technical School For Girls in New York from 1905-07.

Oppenheim's published works include Pay Envelopes (1911); The Nine-Tenths(1911); The Olympian (1912); Idle Wives (1914); Songs For The New Age (1914); The Beloved (1915); War and Laughter (1916); The Book Of Self (1917); The Solitary (1919); The Mystic Warrior (1921); Golden Bird (1923); The Sea (collected poetry - 1924); Behind Your Front (1926); and American Types: A Preface To Analytic Psychology (1931). Additionally, he contributed short stories, articles, and poems to American Magazine, American Mercury, Century, Collier's, Freeman, Harper's, Hearst's, New Republic, and The Thinker. Oppenheim served as the editor for The Seven Arts magazine, where he worked with Waldo Frank, George Jean Nathan, Louis Untermeyer and Paul Rosenfeld from 1916-17, until he was blacklisted due to his opposition to US entry into World War I. Oppenheim died in New York City on August 4, 1932.

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Bread And Roses

As we come 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 come 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!

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