Edith Nesbit

Edith Nesbit, author of, among others, The Railway Children, had poetry published in anarchist magazine Freedom. She was a follower of William Morris, one of the founders of the Fabian Society, and a friend of Peter Kropotkin and Eleanor Marx. This poem from Freedom, 1888.

All in All

WHEN all the night is horrible with clamour
Of voiceless curses darker than the night,
When light of sun there is not, neither starshine,
Nor any beacon on the hill of Right,
Shine, O thou Light of Life, upon our pathway—
Freedom, be thou our light!

Since all life’s ways are difficult and dreary,
And false steps echo through eternity,
And there is naught to lean on as we journey
By paths not smooth as downward paths would be,
We have no other help—we need no other;
Freedom, we lean on thee!

The slave’s base murmur and the threats of tyrants,
The voice of cowards who cringe and cry ‘Retreat,’
The whisper of the world, ‘Come where power calls thee!’
The whisper of the flesh, ‘Let life be sweet.’
Since all these with thy divine commanding;
Guide thou thy children’s feet!

For thee, for thee we bear the cross, the banner,
For thee are all our battles fought and won;
For thee was every prayer we ever uttered,
For thee has every deed of ours been done;
To thee we press—to thee, triumphant splendour,
O Freedom, lead us on!

Where thou shalt lead we do not fear to follow.
Thou hast our hearts; we follow them in thee.
Spirit of Light, whatever thou shalt show us,
Strong in the faith, we shall not fear to see;
We reach to thee through all the waves of darkness
Of all the days to be.

Edith Nesbit

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Lines For Striking Miners

A poet in support of the miner’s strike, from the NUM anthology Against All The Odds, 1984 that was sold to raise funds for the strike.

Lines For Striking Miners

I am not a miner.
Only a poet of black ink
With a few pounds to spare,
Enough for paper, envelopes,
A pint of two with my mates.
But I have also descended
Into earth’s black bowels –
The depths of painful thoughts.
I too know lack of light,
But instead of coal I hew
Lines in black ink, lines
To invoke a passionate act
In men unused to to feel
The passion of a poet’s pen.
I too know saboteurs, scabs,
Of the mind and emotions.
I reject opportunism,
Which sacrifices tomorrow
For today’s few paltry pounds.
And so I support them,
The striking miners, intent
On tomorrow’s bread, justice
Fidelity to principle.
For the poet too is a worker,
His lines hewn out with pain.
The use of the mind’s muscles,
Inducing black moods, fatigues,
Some joy also in use,
Supported by the unpraised will.

G. Rangeley