A Fellow Slave

A poem by Morris Rosenfeld

Pale-faced is he, as in the door
He stands and trembles visibly,--
With diffidence approaches me,
And says: "Dear editor,

"Since write you must, in prose or rhyme,
Expose my master's knavery,
Condemn, I pray, the slavery
That dominates our time.

"I labor for a wicked man
Who holds o'er all my being sway,--
Who keeps me harnessed night and day.
Since work I first began.

"No leisure moments do I store,
Yet harsh words only will he speak;
My days are his, from week to week,
But still he cries for more.

"Oh print, I beg you, all I've said,
And ask the world if this be right:
To give the worker wage so slight
That he must want for bread.

"See, I have sinews powerful,
And I've endurance, subtle skill,--
Yet may not use them at my will,
But live a master's tool.

"But oh, without avail do I
Lay bare the woes of workingmen!
Who earns his living by the pen,
Feels not our misery."

The pallid slave yet paler grew,
And ended here his bitter cry...
And thus to him I made reply:
"My friend, you judge untrue.

"My strength and skill, like yours, are gain
For others... Sold!... You understand?
Your master--well--he owns your hand,
And mine--he owns my brain."

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