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Bread and Roses

[James Oppenheim]

James Oppenheim wrote the poem Bread and Roses; it was first published in December 1911. Oppenheim wrote that he saw the slogan “Bread for all, and Roses, too” and when his poem was published again in 1912 that slogan was attributed to “Chicago Women Trade Unionists”.

These days it usually sung to the tune written by Mimi Farisña in the mid-1970s.

Suzie Adams and Helen Watson (later Helen Hockenhull) sang Bread and Roses in 1983 on their Dingle's album Songbird. Helen Hockenhull returned to the song ten year later when she recorded it in 1993 with Grace Notes for their first CD, Down Falls the Day.

Frankie Armstrong sang Bread and Roses to a tune written by Leon Rosselson in 1990 on her Harbourtown album Ways of Seeing and in 2004 on her Harbourtown CD Darkest Before the Dawn.

The Rheingans Sisters sang Bread and Roses to a tune written by Rowan Rheingans in 2013 on their first CD, Glad Gold Hearts. Rowan returned to this song in 2017 on the Coven EP Unholy Choir.

Rosie Hood recorded Bread & Roses as a bonus track for the Kickstarter supporters of her 2017 RootBeat CD, The Beautiful & the Actual.

Lyrics

Bread and Roses

As we go marching, marching, in the beauty of the day
A million darkened kitchens, a thousand mill lofts gray
Are touched with all the radiance that a sudden sun discloses
For the people hear us singing, bread and roses, bread and roses.

As we come marching, marching, we battle too, for men,
For they are in the struggle and together we shall win.
Our days shall not be sweated from birth until life closes,
Hearts starve as well as bodies, give us bread, but give us roses.

As we come marching, marching, un-numbered women dead
Go crying through our singing their ancient call for bread,
Small art and love and beauty their trudging spirits knew
Yes, it is bread we. fight for, but we fight for roses, too.

As we go marching, marching, we're standing proud and tall.
The rising of the women means the rising of us all.
No more the drudge and idler, ten that toil where one reposes,
But a sharing of life's glories, bread and roses, bread and roses.