Today is International Women’s Day, when many places take a moment to celebrate the lives of the women who have done so much for them, to remember the struggles that women around the world have fought for their rights, and to renew the fight that is, sadly, still required today for full equality and safety. Reflecting on this, I remembered a song written by Mimi Fariña and sung by many performers, including my beloved Judy Collins, entitled “Bread and Roses.” The lyric adapts slightly from the poem by James Oppenheim that he wrote in 1911 for the American Magazine. This song wraps up nicely the entire meaning of International Women’s Day, and I reproduce it here:
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 go marching, marching, we battle too for men,
For they are women’s children, and we mother them again.
Our lives shall not be sweated from birth until life closes;
Hearts starve as well as bodies; give us bread, but give us roses.
As we go marching, marching, unnumbered women dead
Go crying through our singing their ancient call for bread.
Small art and love and beauty their drudging spirits knew.
Yes, it is bread we fight for, but we fight for roses too.
As we go marching, marching, we bring the greater days,
The rising of the women means the rising of the race.
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.
- — Song copyright 1976 by Mimi Fariña; lyrics based on the poem Bread and Roses by James Oppenheim
WindLight: Torley — Rebranded Skies (midday); globe and hands sculpture by Meli Imako; pose by Luth