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The Song of the Shirt Analysis



Author: Poetry of Thomas Hood Type: Poetry Views: 372

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The Song of the Shirt

With fingers weary and worn,
With eyelids heavy and red,
A woman sat, in unwomanly rags,
Plying her needle and thread--
Stitch! stitch! stitch!
In poverty, hunger, and dirt,
And still with a voice of dolorous pitch
She sang the "Song of the Shirt."

"Work! work! work!
While the cock is crowing aloof!
And work work work,
Till the stars shine through the roof!
It's Oh! to be a slave
Along with the barbarous Turk,
Where woman has never a soul to save,
If this is Christian work!

"Work work work
Till the brain begins to swim;
Work work work
Till the eyes are heavy and dim!
Seam, and gusset, and band,
Band, and gusset, and seam,
Till over the buttons I fall asleep,
And sew them on in a dream!

"Oh, Men, with Sisters dear!
Oh, Men, with Mothers and Wives!
It is not linen you're wearing out,
But human creatures' lives!
Stitch stitch stitch,
In poverty, hunger, and dirt,
Sewing at once with a double thread,
A Shroud as well as a Shirt.

But why do I talk of Death?
That Phantom of grisly bone,
I hardly fear its terrible shape,
It seems so like my own
It seems so like my own,
Because of the fasts I keep;
Oh, God! that bread should be so dear,
And flesh and blood so cheap!

"Work work work!
My Labour never flags;
And what are its wages? A bed of straw,
A crust of bread and rags.
That shatter'd roof and this naked floor
A table a broken chair
And a wall so blank, my shadow I thank
For sometimes falling there!

"Work work work!
From weary chime to chime,
Work work work!
As prisoners work for crime!
Band, and gusset, and seam,
Seam, and gusset, and band,
Till the heart is sick, and the brain benumb'd,
As well as the weary hand.

"Work work work,
In the dull December light,
And work work work,
When the weather is warm and bright
While underneath the eaves
The brooding swallows cling
As if to show me their sunny backs
And twit me with the spring.

Oh! but to breathe the breath
Of the cowslip and primrose sweet
With the sky above my head,
And the grass beneath my feet
For only one short hour
To feel as I used to feel,
Before I knew the woes of want
And the walk that costs a meal!

Oh! but for one short hour!
A respite however brief!
No blessed leisure for Love or Hope,
But only time for Grief!
A little weeping would ease my heart,
But in their briny bed
My tears must stop, for every drop
Hinders needle and thread!"

With fingers weary and worn,
With eyelids heavy and red,
A woman sat in unwomanly rags,
Plying her needle and thread
Stitch! stitch! stitch!
In poverty, hunger, and dirt,
And still with a voice of dolorous pitch,
Would that its tone could reach the Rich!
She sang this "Song of the Shirt!"

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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||




.: :.

I regret that a teacher should inform a pupil that this related to exploitation of workers in overseas garment factories.
1. It specifically refers to the exploitation of home workers in early 19c England and as such it was part of a growing movement for social reform which included the abolition of slavery, the restriction and control of child labour,widening the right to vote to all adult men (universal sufferage only being achieved in the
20c)and the provision of free education.
2.It is very appropriate to extrapolate the original meaning to encompass the experience of latterday sweatshop workers, which I regret to say (contrary to the innocent belief of one of your writers)who continue to be exploited and abused in almost every country on the globe, including those of the wealthy West, where the demand for cheap goods, regardless of the suffering involved in the production of those goods,continues to encourage (even demand) such exploitation

| Posted on 2010-11-12 | by a guest


.: :.

Song of the Shirt refers to the exploitation of
the working factory underclass by the rich.

| Posted on 2010-06-02 | by a guest


.: :.

When I first read the poem, I told my teacher that I thought it unfair. The rich people here treat the poor people better than that. Plus the working environment was never dirty in our factories.
The teacher said I was right. However, the poem refers to the working conditions overseas from where so many of our shirts come.
S.I.S. March 1, 2010

| Posted on 2010-03-02 | by a guest


.: :.

I totally agree with the song, it was so unfair how these women were treated.

| Posted on 2009-05-21 | by a guest


.: :.

basicly its about how she doesnt understand why god isnt treaty her right when she is a christian
how the rich treat her and that they treat heras if she is a slave when she isnt and maybe her life would be better is she were a slave and
the way women are treated in general
quite deep to be honest he must have felt real strongly about the 3 topics

| Posted on 2008-10-02 | by a guest


.: :.

The three main topics in this piece are women, religion, rich/poor people.

| Posted on 2008-09-30 | by a guest




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