Words: James Oppenheim, 1912
Melody: Mimi Fariña 1976
Arranged: Tom Bridges 1994
Throughout the history of the textile industry women have been employed for very low wages. In 1912 during a massive strike in Lawrence Massachusetts a woman mill-worker carried a placard which read We Want Bread! And Roses Too!! The strike not only won important concessions from the wool companies, it also inspired James Oppenheim to write the poem Bread And Roses. Various tunes have been used over the years to sing the work, we use one by Mimi Fariña, as arranged by Tom Bridges.
As we come marching, marching in the beauty of the day,
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill-lofts grey
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses.
For the people here are singing ‘Bread and Roses! Bread and Roses!’
As we come marching, marching we battle too for men
For they are in the struggle and together we shall win!
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 come marching, marching, unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing their ancient cry for bread.
Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew
Yes, it is bread that we fight for, but we fight for roses too!
As we come marching, marching we’re standing proud and tall!
The rising of the women means the rising of us all.
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!