Monday, 4 January 2016

Cities Stained With Blood.

        Every house, every road, every building, each ship ever launched, the trucks the trains and all the goods they carry, all stained with the sweat and blood of the ordinary people. Industrial disease, injury and death are the units of exchange to furnish our cities and towns. The shiny new car, the mobile phone, the shopping mall, all sanitized to hide their origin, trace them back to the earth they came from, and you'll find them nourished with blood.

The Road Builders

(“Who built the beautiful roads?” queried a friend of the present order, as we walked one day along the macadamized driveway of Fairmount Park.)
I saw them toiling in the blistering sun,
Their dull, dark faces leaning toward the stone, Their knotted fingers grasping the rude tools,
Their rounded shoulders narrowing in their chest,
The sweat dro’s dripping in great painful beads.
I saw one fall, his forehead on the rock,
The helpless hand still clutching at the spade,
The slack mouth full of earth.
And he was dead.
His comrades gently turned his face, until
The fierce sun glittered hard upon his eyes,
Wide open, staring at the cruel sky.
The blood yet ran upon the jagged stone;
But it was ended. He was quite, quite dead:
Driven to death beneath the burning sun,
Driven to death upon the road he built.
He was no “hero”, he; a poor, black man,
Taking “the will of God” and asking naught;
Think of him thus, when next your horse’s feet
Strike out the flint spark from the gleaming road;
Think that for this, this common thing, The Road,
A human creature died; ‘tis a blood gift,
To an o’er reaching world that does not thank.
Ignorant, mean and soulless was he? Well —
Still human; and you drive upon his corpse.
Philadelphia, 24 July 1900

Voltairine de Cleyre

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