Lyrics: Jim Seymour.
Alone in the kitchen, in grease-laden steam,
I pause for a moment—a moment to dream,
For even a dishwasher thinks of a day
Wherein there’ll be leisure for rest and for play.
And now that I pause, o’er the transom there floats,
A strain of the Traumerei’s soul-stirring notes.
Engulfed in a blending of sorrow and glee,
I wonder that music can reach even me.
For now I am thinking; my brain has been stirred,
The voice of a master the lowly has heard.
The heart-breaking sobs of the sad violin,
Arouses the thoughts of the sweet “might-have-been.”
Had men been born equal, the use of their brain
Would shield them from poverty, free them from pain,
Nor would I have sunk in the black social mire
Because of poor judgment in choosing a sire.
But now I am only a slave of the mill
That plies and remodels me just as it will;
That makes me a dullard in brain-burning heat;
That looks at rich viands not daring to eat;
That works with his red, blistered hands ever stuck
Down deep in the foul indescribable muck
Where dishes are plunged seventeen at a time,
And washed!—in a tubful of sickening slime.
But on with your clatter! no more must I shirk,
The world is to me but a nightmare of work.
For me not the music, the laughter and song,
No toiler is welcome amid the gay throng.
For me not the smiles of the ladies who dine
No sweet clinging kisses begotten of wine.
For me but the venting of low sweated groans
That twelve hours a night have instilled in my bones.
The music has ceased but the havoc it wrought
Within this poor brain is awakened to thought,
Shall cease not at all, but continue to spread
Till all of my fellows are thinking or dead.
The havoc it wrought, ’Twill be havoc to those
Whose joys would be nil were it not for my woes.
Keep on with your gorging, your laughter and jest,
But never forget that the last laugh is best.
You leeches that live on the fat of the land,
You overfed parasites, look at my hands.
You laugh at them now they are blistered and coarse;
But such are the hands quite familiar with force;
And such are the hands that have furnished you drink
The hands of the slaves who are learning to think,
And hands that have fed you can crush you as well
And cast your damned carcasses clear into hell!
Go on with your scoffing begotten of gold;
As now are your hearts, will your bodies be cold.
Go on with your scorning, you creators of hate
Eat well while the dishwasher spits on your plate.
And while at your feast let the orchestra play
The life-giving strains of the dear Marseillaise,
Let the red revolution be placed on the throne
Till those who produce have come to their own.
But scorn me tonight, in the morn you shall learn
That those whom you loathe can despise you in turn.
The dishwasher vows that his fellows shall know
That only their ignorance keeps them below.
Your music was potent, your music hath charms,
It hardened the muscles that strengthen my arms;
It painted a vision of freedom, of life—
Tomorrow we strive for the ending of strife!