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‘Boast her clear unclouded skies’

The Glasgow poet Marion Bernstein (1846–1906) recognised little distinction between gender equality and social equality. She valued her fellow poets, many of whom were from the working classes, and she populated her poems with an array of ordinary citizens: postmen, riveters, fishermen, street musicians, even a victim of intemperance.
A Song of Glasgow Town contains all of Bernstein’s 198 published poems, along with a detailed introduction to her life and work.

Extract from A Song of Glasgow Town
By Marion Bernstein
Published by ASLS

A Song of Glasgow Town

I’ll sing a song of Glasgow town,
That stands on either side
The river that was once so fair,
The much insulted Clyde.
That stream, once pure, but now so foul,
Was never made to be
A sewer, just to bear away
The refuse to the sea.
Oh, when will Glasgow’s factories
Cease to pollute its tide,
And let the Glasgow people see
The beauty of the Clyde!

I’ll sing a song of Glasgow town:
On every side I see
A crowd of giant chimney stalks
As grim as grim can be.
There’s always smoke from some of them—
Some black, some brown, some grey.
Yet genius has invented means
To burn the smoke away.
Oh, when will Glasgow factories
Cease to pollute the air;
To spread dull clouds o’er sunny skies
That should be bright and fair!

I’ll sing a song of Glasgow town,
Where wealth and want abound;
Where the high seat of learning dwells
’Mid ignorance profound.
Oh, when will Glasgow make a rule
To do just what she ought—
Let starving bairns in every school
Be fed as well as taught!
And when will Glasgow city be
Fair Caledonia’s pride,
And boast her clear unclouded skies,
And crystal-flowing Clyde?

 

Human Rights                                                                 

Man holds so exquisitively tight
To everything he deems his right;
If woman wants a share, to fight
She has, and strive with all her might.

But we are nothing like so jealous
As any of you surly fellows;
Give us our rights and we’ll not care
To cheat our brothers of their share.

Above such selfish, man-like fright,
We’d give fair play, let come what might,
To he or she folk, black or white,
And haste the reign of Human Right.

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