I bend o'er the wheel at my sewing;
I'm spent; and I'm hungry for rest;
No curse on the master bestowing,--
No hell-fires within me are glowing,--
Tho' pain flares its fires in my breast.
I mar the new cloth with my weeping,
And struggle to hold back the tears;
A fever comes over me, sweeping
My veins; and all through me goes creeping
A host of black terrors and fears.
The wounds of the old years ache newly;
The gloom of the shop hems me in;
But six o'clock signals come duly:
O, freedom seems mine again, truly...
Unhindered I haste from the din.
Now home again, ailing and shaking,
With tears that are blinding my eyes,
With bones that are creaking and breaking,
Unjoyful of rest... merely taking
A seat; hoping never to rise.
I gaze round me: none for a greeting!
By Life for the moment unpressed,
My poor wife lies sleeping--and beating
A lip-tune in dream false and fleeting,
My child mumbles close to her breast.
I look on them, weeping in sorrow,
And think: "When the Reaper has come--
When finds me no longer the morrow--
What aid then?--from whom will they borrow
The crust of dry bread and the home?
"What harbors that morrow," I wonder,
"For them when the breadwinner's gone?
When sudden and swift as the thunder
The bread-bond is broken asunder,
And friend in the world there is none."
A numbness my brain is o'ertaking...
To sleep for a moment I drop:
Then start!... In the east light is breaking!--
I drag myself, ailing and aching,
Again to the gloom of the shop.