Christ came walking adown the way,
The broken cottage was open wide,
There, in her coffin, a young child lay,
And pale for sorrow the mother cried,
“Hadst Thou been here she had never died.”
The men were on strike, and the money was spent,
The doctors said they could do no good,
So off with his pick, my master went,
But he came back bruised, and covered with blood,
He had dared, for his darling, to seek some food.
And the Christ, in pity He groaned a groan
“Have the children hereabout asked for bread
And the hand of the fathers given a stone,—
That now the fathers are stoned instead,
And their own babes wither, and die unfed”?
Then Christ went on thro’ the wind and cold
And the poor man crouched at an empty grate,
Cried “Sir be with us as once of old,—
I starve, while our leaders in comfort prate,
But dearer coal cannot mend my state.
And Christ made answer, “I too felt
The cold, while others were warmed at the fire;
Thro’ all the centuries men have knelt
To kiss my robe, they have not come higher
To God,—Love’s warmth was my soul’s desire”.
And the Christ went thence to the meeting room,
The Union leaders, they bade him in,
He heard their passionate fret and fume,
With talk of coal-proprietor’s sin,
And vows of vengeance, if money should win.
And He said, in a pause,—“Have ye never heard
That all under God have equal rights
But they who follow great mammon for Lord
Have equal wrongs, but unequal fights
The Law of Service alone unites”.
Then the Christ He came to the Hall of debate,
Where the grim coal-owners were talking loud,
He called the man from the empty grate,
He brought the child in her coffin’s shroud,
And he summoned outside a hungry crowd.
Rights of property,—owner’s choice,—
Rights of Capital,—contracts free,—
Claims of manor, with lordly voice,
Cries of coal coming over the sea
Mingled with Mammon’s unholy glee.
But lo! in a hush,—out spake the Christ,
“God who made it, He claims the coal
How shall labour be fairly priced
And the broken heart of a land be whole
Till Love for the Living have paid its toll”?
From the street of the city, from far-off glen,
At the saying of Christ there came a sound,
And the great blast-furnaces roared “Amen”
And a cheer ran thundering under-ground,
And the factory wheels went humming round.
For Love of the Living to help the land,
For love of the dying to keep alive,
The masters reached to the men a hand,—
And the men their hands in return would give
And Labour and Capital ceased to grieve.
(Unpublished poem. RR/3/1 in the Rawnsley Archives)