The CHILDREN of the MILLS

Oh, the silence of the children in the sunny South to-day!
    It is sadder than the cry of fettered slaves.
Lean and listen, and you will hear the roaring of the mill
    And the sighing of the wind through open graves,
But the voices of the children--they are still.
Oh, the roaring of the mill, of the mill!

They no longer shout and gambol in the blossom-laden fields,
    And their laughter does not echo down the street.
They have gone across the hills ; they are working in the mills ;
    Oh, the tired little hands and aching feet,
And the weary dreary life that stunts and kills!
Oh, the roaring of the mill, of the mill!

All the pleasures known to childhood are but tales of fairy-land ;
    What to them are singing birds and running streams?
For the rumble of the rill seems an echo of the mill,
    And they see but flying spindles in their dreams.
Life is one in summer's heat or winter's chill.
Oh, the roaring of the mill, of the mill!

In this boasted land of freedom they are bonded baby slaves,
    And the busy world goes by and does not heed.
They are driven to the mill just to glut and overfill
    Bursting coffers of the mighty monarch Greed.
When they perish we are told it is God's will.
Oh, the roaring of the mill, of the mill!                                         ELLA WHEELER WILCOX.

The Cosmopolitan 34:1 (Nov. 1902): 118.

Courtesy of John M. Freiermuth.


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