Project Canterbury

Songs and Ballads for Manufacturers

By the Rev. John Mason Neale

London: Joseph Masters, 1850.

I. The Silk Throwsters.

A song for the Mulberry-tree so fair,
And its leaves so fresh and gay;
And a song for the worm that feasteth there
In the pleasant month of May:
You may tell me of jewels with sparkling light,
You may tell me of pearls in braid,--
There never was king nor lady bright
Like that poor worm arrayed!

He buildeth him up a silken cell
Wherein to take his rest,
As yellow as furze on a mountain-fell,
And as soft as a robin's nest:
He creepeth in, when his task is done,
His quiet bed to make,
And he bids good night to the pleasant sun,
And we never let him wake!

There's the clatter of wheels, and the buzz of reels,
And the layers that steadily go,
And the bobbins that catch the silk above,
From the swifts that fly below:
Great need of an eye, like a hawk's on high,
As we wind the silk amain;
To manage the lead, and to join the thread,
And to fill the emptied skein.

Now to the mill! Of wondrous skill
Our English throwsters be;
Full thirty times their swifts whirl round,
While foreigners' turn but three:
The flyers hum on, and the spindles rise,
And never a wheel works wrong;
And the thread from the bobbins runs fast through the eyes,
And the twist comes close and strong.

Then gladly his work the throwster shifts;
To the doubling the silk must go;
So now for the bobbins instead of the swifts,
By two and by three in a row:
'Tis rough to the touch, and 'tis foul to the view,
But the rails are soft and clean;
Our tram for the weft may fairly do,
But the warp must have organzine.

And are not we like the silk we throw?
Each thread by itself is nought;
Through many a wheel it hath to go,
Before it comes out as it ought:
And we have to press on a weary race,
And a troublesome course to run,
To make us meet, in a Better Place,
To be woven together in one!

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