The Workin Man

A poem I read in The People’s History of the US. Addition source.

My Boy
I have a little boy at home,
A pretty little son;
I think sometimes the world is mine
In him, my only one.

But seldom, seldom do I see
My child in heaven’s light;
I find him always fast asleep…
I see him but at night.

Ere dawn my labor drives me forth;
’Tis night when I am free;
A stranger am I to my child;
And strange my child to me.

I come in darkness to my home,
With weariness and—pay;
My pallid wife, she waits to tell
The things he learned to say.

How plain and prettily he asked:
“Dear mamma, when’s ‘Tonight’?
O when will come my dear papa
And bring a penny bright?”

I hear her words—I hasten out—
This moment must it be!—
The father-love flames in my breast:
My child must look at me!

I stand beside the tiny cot,
And look, and list, and—ah!
A dream-thought moves the baby-lips:
“O, where is my papa!”

I kiss and kiss the shut blue eyes;
I kiss them not in vain.
They open,—O they see me then!
And straightway close again.

“Here’s your papa, my precious one;—
A penny for you!”—ah!
A dream still moves the baby-lips:
“O, where is my papa!”

And I—I think in bitterness
And disappointment sore;
“Some day you will awake, my child,
To find me nevermore.”

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