Lucy Parsons – A Force of Forms

The world’s working class perseveres.  The poem below expresses hope, need, and dreams of a society that is not overlooked.  Despite economic class, we can say with confidence that we all work toward something better.  We all work toward better freedom!


Toil and pray! The world cries cold;
Speed thy prayer, for time is gold
At thy door Need’s subtle tread;
Pray in haste! for time is bread.

And thou-plow’st and thou hew’st,
And thou rivet’st and sewest,
And thou harvestest in vain;
Speak! O, man; what is thy gain?

Fly’st the shuttle day and night,
Heav’st the ores of earth to light,
Fill’st with treasures plenty’s horn;
Brim’st it o’er with wine and corn.

But who hath thy meal prepared,
Festive garments with thee shared;
And where is thy cheerful hearth,
Thy good shield in battle dearth?

Thy creations round thee see
All thy work, but naught for thee!
Yea, of all the chains alone thy hand forged,
These are thine own.

Chains that round the body cling,
Chains that lame the spirits wing,
Chains that infants’ feet, indeed
Clog! O, workman! Lo! Thy meed.

What you rear and bring to light,
Profits by the idle wight,
What ye weave of diverse hue,
‘Tis a curse-your only due.

What ye build, no room insures,
Not a sheltering roof to yours,
And by haughty ones are trod-
Ye, whose toil their feet hath shod.

Human bees! Has nature’s thrift
Given thee naught but honey’s gift?
See! the drones are on the wing.
Have you lost the will to sting?

Man of labor, up, arise!
Know the might that in thee lies,
Wheel and shaft are set at rest
At thy powerful arm’s behest.

Thine oppressor’s hand recoils
When thou, weary of thy toil,
Shun’st thy plough thy task begun,
When thou speak’st: Enough is done!

Break this two-fold yoke in twain;
Break thy want’s enslaving chain;
Break thy slavery’s want and dread;
Bread is freedom, freedom bread.

As Lucy Parson’s husband prepared for death, pleading his case, he speaks of acting out of passion.  He defines passion as “the suspension of reason…where men throw aside their reason and resort to feelings of exasperation.”[2] We nurture the passion he speaks of from birth.  Can you imagine a world in which we only use our frustrations as a vehicle for progress?

The historic battle of the Parsons couple and the American city of Chicago centered on what we now call the “working class.”  This class of people, according to anarchists, possesses their only property right through their skills and daily work.  The wealth producers or the middle class, say many in modern times.

Lucy Parsons organized the community toward this effort her entire life, likely as a slave in Texas, and later moved to Chicago with her husband in 1873.[3] They desired to see free association in labor; and Lucy Parson’s position was one of magnificent proportions.  Born of African-American, Mexican and Native decent, Parsons spent her life using her diversity as a force in a community riddled with homelessness and unemployment.  More dangerous than a thousand rioters, she was known for her numerous speeches and writing.  She changed her name many times to work for different causes, including the name Lucy Gonzales.[4]

All in all, Albert and Lucy Parsons contributed a lot to the America we have today. Mrs. Parsons alone proved reinforced the idea that women are powerful in whatever form they have to take to make positive change happen.

Chicago Historic Society. (2010, August 17). The Accused, the accusers: the famous speeches of the eight Chicago anarchists in court when asked if they had anything to say why sentence should not be passed upon them. On October 7th, 8th and 9th, 1886, Chicago, Illinois. Retrieved August 17, 2010, from Chicago Historic Society Haymarket Affair Digital Collection:

Parsons, L. (1969). Mass Violence: Famous Speeches of the Eight Chicago Anarchists (2 ed.). Chicago: Lucy E. Parsons.

The Lucy Parsons Project. (2008, September 8). About Lucy Parson. Retrieved August 17, 2010, from The Lucy Parsons Project:

Women’s History Information Project. (2008, September 8). Lucy Parsons: Woman of Will. Retrieved August 17, 2010, from The Lucy Parsons Project:


[1] (Chicago Historic Society, 2010)

[2] (Parsons, 1969, p. 66)

[3] (The Lucy Parsons Project, 2008)

[4] (Women’s History Information Project, 2008)

Download the Original Albert&LucyParsons PDF Document

Other Resources

  1. Homicide in Chicago: Death at The Haymarket Affair
  2. Photos
  3. Quote of The Day

One thought on “Lucy Parsons – A Force of Forms

  1. Pingback: From the archive of struggle: Haymarket and May Day « Poumista

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