Nonfiction > Upton Sinclair, ed. > The Cry for Justice
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Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968).
The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest.  1915.
 
The Song of the Wage Slave
(From “The Spell of the Yukon”)

By Robert W. Service

(Canadian poet, born 1876. His poems of Alaska and the great Northwest have attained wide popularity)
 
WHEN the long, long day is over, and the Big Boss gives me my pay,
I hope that it won’t be hell-fire, as some of the parsons say.
And I hope that it won’t be heaven, with some of the parsons I’ve met—
All I want is just quiet, just to rest and forget.
Look at my face, toil-furrowed; look at my calloused hands;        5
Master, I’ve done Thy bidding, wrought in Thy many lands—
Wrought for the little masters, big-bellied they be, and rich;
I’ve done their desire for a daily hire, and I die like a dog in a ditch.…
I, the primitive toiler, half naked and grimed to the eyes,
Sweating it deep in their ditches, swining it stark in their styes;        10
Hurling down forests before me, spanning tumultuous streams;
Down in the ditch building o’er me palaces fairer than dreams;
Boring the rock to the ore-bed, driving the road through the fen,
Resolute, dumb, uncomplaining, a man in a world of men.
Master, I’ve filled my contract, wrought in Thy many lands;        15
Not by my sins wilt Thou judge me, but by the work of my hands.
Master, I’ve done Thy bidding, and the light is low in the west,
And the long, long shift is over.… Master, I’ve earned it—Rest.
 
 
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