Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

(20 April 1826 - 12 October 1887 / Stoke-on-Trent / England)

Labor Is Prayer - Poem by Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

LABORARE est orare:
We, black-visaged sons of toil,
From the coal-mine and the anvil
And the delving of the soil,--
From the loom, the wharf, the warehouse,
And the ever-whirling mill,
Out of grim and hungry silence
Raise a weak voice small and shrill;--
Laborare est orare:
Man, dost hear us? God, He will.

We, who just can keep from starving
Sickly wives,--not always mild:
Trying not to curse Heaven's bounty
When it sends another child,--
We who, worn-out, doze on Sundays
O'er the Book we strive to read,
Cannot understand the parson
Or the catechism and creed.
Laborare est orare:--
Then, good sooth, we pray indeed.

We, poor women, feeble-natured,
Large of heart, in wisdom small,
Who the world's incessant battle
Cannot understand at all,
All the mysteries of the churches,
All the troubles of the state,--
Whom child-smiles teach 'God is loving,'
And child-coffins, 'God is great':
Laborare est orare:--
We too at His footstool wait.

Laborare est orare;
Hear it, ye of spirit poor,
Who sit crouching at the threshold
While your brethren force the door;
Ye whose ignorance stands wringing
Rough hands, scamed with toil, nor dares
Lift so much as eyes to Heaven,--
Lo! all life this truth declares,
Laborare est orare;
And the whole earth rings with prayers.

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010

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