Union Songs

Bread and Roses

a song by James Oppenheim

- [play]

As we go marching, marching, in the beauty of the day
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts gray
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses
For the people hear us singing, bread and roses, bread and roses.

As we come marching, marching, we battle too, for men,
For they are in the struggle and together we shall win.
Our days shall not be sweated from birth until life closes,
Hearts starve as well as bodies, give us bread, but give us roses.

As we come marching, marching, un-numbered women dead
Go crying through our singing their ancient call for bread,
Small art and love and beauty their trudging spirits knew
Yes, it is bread we. fight for, but we fight for roses, too.

As we go marching, marching, we're standing proud and tall.
The rising of the women means the rising of us all.
No more the drudge and idler, ten that toil where one reposes,
But a sharing of life's glories, bread and roses, bread and roses.

Here is a French translation from Canada

Du Pain et des Roses
(traduction du S.T.T.P.) 

Pendant que nous marchons, marchons dans la beauté du jour 
Un million de cuisines sombres, un millier de greniers mornes 
Sont touchés par des rayons de soleil radieux et soudains 
Alors qu'on nous entend chanter, du pain et des roses, du pain et des roses!

Pendant que nous marchons, marchons, nous luttons aussi pour les hommes 
Car ils sont les frères des femmes et nous marcherons de nouveau avec eux
Nos vies ne seront pas passées à suer de la naissance à la mort 
Le coeur a faim tout comme le corps, Donnez-nous pain, mais aussi des roses 

Pendant que nous marchons, marchons, d'innombrables femmes mortes 
Pleurent pendant que nous chantons, notre cri pour du pain 
L'art, l'amour et la beauté que leurs âmes de servantes renfermaient 
Oui, nous luttons pour du pain, mais nous luttons pour des roses aussi 

Pendant que nous marchons, marchons, nous nous tenons bien droit 
La montée des femmes est notre montée à tous 
Finies les corvées et enfin on se repose 
On partage les gloires de la vie du pain et des roses, du pain et des roses


Bread and Roses dates back to 1911 and received a new lease of life with the resurgeance of the women's movement in the late 1960s and the interest in the role played by women in trade union history.

Many thanks to Tom Juravich and Teresa Healy for permission to add their version of this song to the Union Songs collection. The song is on their 2006 CD "tangled in our dreams".

Visit Tom's website at http://www.tomjuravich.com/ and Teresa's at http://teresahealy.ca/

national women's trade union leagueA recent article by Jim Zwick in Singout! (winter 2003) examines the history of this song and links its origins with The National Women's Trade Union League and it's headquarters in Chicago.

James Oppenheim wrote the poem and it was first published in December 1911. Oppenheim wrote that he saw the slogan "Bread for all, and Roses, too" and when his poem was published again in 1912 that slogan was attributed to "Chicago Women Trade Unionists".

These days it usually sung to the tune written by Mimi Farina in the mid 1970s.

Almost 100 years after it was written Bread and Roses remains a favourite of Trade Union Choirs around the glode.

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