Martin Farquhar Tupper

(July 17, 1810 - November 1889 / London)

A Dozen Ballads About White Slavery. Vii. The Servant-Of-All-Work - Poem by Martin Farquhar Tupper

Drudgery all the day,
Drudgery half the night,-
Scolded about and worried away,
Begrudged of sleep, and victuals and pay,
And always in dread of 'what Missus will say,'
Thou scared little weary wight,-
Alas, for that poor thin face so pale,
I read in its features this piteous tale:

She was a peasant's child
In the prison-like Union born;
Never on her had a father smiled,
And as for her mother, degraded, defiled,
By some reprobate basely beguiled,
Deserted and forlorn,
She died in giving her little one birth
And left the poor babe alone on this earth!

So, under workhouse care
Somehow the child grew up,
Stunted and spare, upon stinted fare
Without one gleam of kindliness there,
One touch of humanity ever so rare,
One drop of sweet in her cup,-
An ill-used, cunning, ignorant mind,
Blunted and bruised by a world unkind.

And thus the years went round,
And then to service she went;
The stern taskmaster was easily found,
The trembling apprentice as easily bound,
And so this drudge has been work'd and ground,
And still slaves on, content,
Too deeply acquainted with sorrow and strife
To care to be otherwise all her life!

-Nay but, Liberty's Nest!
Dear England, home of the Free!
So frankly made welcome to strangers distrest,
Can thine own daughters, pining for rest,
Be thus ground down, unhelp'd tho' opprest,
Be thus enslaved in thee?
Can women, or man, or childhood appear
So hopelessly, endlessly, desolate here?

Bear witness, many a Place
Where such bad servitude grinds,-
Where Sunday is never a Sabbath of grace,
And Toil never reaches the goal of its race,
And Cruelty buffets Humility's face,
And Thraldom Liberty binds,-
And hardships, and evils, and wrongs you may see
To rival almost the dark deeds of Legree!

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, September 22, 2010

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