Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968). rn The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest. 1915.

The Biglow Papers

Lowell, James Russell

James Russell Lowell

(American scholar and poet, 1819–1891, author of many impassioned poems of human freedom. An ardent anti-slavery advocate, it was said during the Civil War that his poetry was worth an army corps to the Union. These poems, first published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1846, voiced the bitter opposition of New England to the Mexican war as a slave-holders’ enterprise)

THRASH away, you’ll hev to rattle

On them kittle-drums o’ yourn,—

’Tain’t a knowin’ kind o’ cattle

Thet is ketched with mouldy corn;

Put in stiff, you fifer feller,

Let folks see how spry you be,—

Guess you’ll toot till you are yeller

’Fore you git ahold o’ me!…

Ez fer war, I call it murder,—

There you hev it plain an’ flat;

I don’t want to go no furder

Than my Testyment fer that;

God hez sed so plump an’ fairly,

It’s ez long ez it is broad,

An’ you’ve got to git up airly

Ef you want to take in God.

’Tain’t your eppyletts an’ feathers

Make the thing a grain more right;

’Tain’t afollerin’ your bell-wethers

Will excuse ye in His sight;

Ef you take a sword an’ dror it,

An’ go stick a feller thru,

Guv’mint ain’t to answer for it,

God’ll send the bill to you.

Wut’s the use o’ meetin’-goin’

Every Sabbath, wet or dry,

Ef it’s right to go amowin’

Feller-men like oats an’ rye?

I dunno but wut it’s pooty

Trainin’ round in bobtail coats,—

But it’s curus Christian dooty

This ’ere cuttin’ folks’s throats.…

Tell ye jest the eend I’ve come to

Arter cipherin’ plaguey smart,

An’ it makes a handy sum, tu,

Any gump could larn by heart;

Laborin’ man an’ laborin’ woman

Hev one glory an’ one shame.

Ev’y thin’ thet’s done inhuman

Injers all on ’em the same.

’Tain’t by turnin’ out to hack folks

You’re agoin’ to git your right,

Nor by lookin’ down on black folks

Coz you’re put upon by white;

Slavery ain’t o’ nary color,

’Tain’t the hide thet makes it wus,

All it keers fer in a feller

’S jest to make him fill its pus.