Vox Clamantis

A poem by William Arthur Dunkerley

(THE PLEA OF THE MUNITION-WORKER)

"Rattle and clatter and clank and whirr,"--
And it's long and long the day is.
From earliest morn to late at night,
And all night long, the selfsame song,---
"Rattle and clank and whirr."
Day in, day out, all day, all night,--
"Rattle and clank and whirr;"
With faces tight, with all our might,--
"Rattle and clank and whirr;"
We may not stop and we dare not err;
Our men are risking their lives out there,
And we at home must do our share;--
But it's long and long the day is.
We'll break if we must, but we cannot spare
A thought for ourselves, or the kids, or care,
For it's "Rattle and clatter and clank and whirr;"
Our men are giving their lives out there
And we'll give ours, we will do our share,--
"Rattle and clank and whirr."

Are our faces grave, and our eyes intent?
Is every ounce that is in us bent
On the uttermost pitch of accomplishment?
Though it's long and long the day is!
Ah--we know what it means if we fool or slack;
--A rifle jammed,--and one comes not back;
And we never forget,--it's for us they gave;
And so we will slave, and slave, and slave,
Lest the men at the front should rue it.
Their all they gave, and their lives we'll save,
If the hardest of work can do it;--
But it's long and long the day is.

Eight hours', ten hours', twelve hours' shift;--
Oh, it's long and long the day is!
Up before light, and home in the night,
That is our share in the desperate fight;--
And it's long and long the day is!
Backs and arms and heads that ache,
Eyes over-tired and legs that shake,
And hearts full nigh to burst and break;--
Oh, it's long and long the day is!
Week in, week out, not a second to spare,
But though it should kill us we'll do our share,
For the sake of the lads, who have gone out there
For the sake of us others, to do and dare;--
But it's long and long the day is!

"Rattle and clatter and clank and whirr,"
And thousands of wheels a-spinning,--
Spinning Death for the men of wrath,
Spinning Death for the broken troth,
--And Life, and a New Beginning.
Was there ever, since ever the world was made,
Such a horrible trade for a peace-loving maid,
And such wonderful, terrible spinning?

Oh, it's dreary work and it's weary work,
But none of us all will fall or shirk.

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