Union Songs


A Poem by Hugh Owen Meredith [published 1911]


All the ways of London meet
In a mighty market square;
Clean and dirty hands and feet,
What bring they to auction there?

We buy the men who make our laws,
We buy the judge of wrong and right,
And men sell themselves because
Men will pay to have them fight.

We buy wives to share our bed,
We buy men to heal our sick,
Churchyard men to bury our dead,
Prison men to bury our quick.

Weary hands for weary work,
Empty brains for empty thought,
Men who strive and men who shirk,
Are in London sold and bought.


Men must sell and men must buy
Else an end to every nation:
But I see no reason why
We should suffer exploitation.

Barristers are sometimes rich,
Doctors earn a living wage;
Female hands, who baste and stitch,
Get too little, youth and age.

London's market is a hell,
Shame is on her market halls,
Not because men buy and sell,
But because the weights are false.


This poem comes from the collection 'Weekday Poems' published by Edward Arnold in 1911

More work from Hugh Owen Meredith in this collection

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