Picking up on Sentiment

One just knows good poetry when they see it!

I saw the following words on someone’s Twitter profile recently, and quickly experienced that familiar recognition of words well played and wanted to share:

When you are the hammer, strike. When you are the anvil, bear.

Seems good advice for day-to-day situational awareness, and actually comes from the poem “Preparedness” by Edwin Markham—known for being one of the poets of labor, with labor being a popular poetry topic of the past and present.

For all your days prepare,
And meet them ever alike:
When you are the anvil, bear—
When you are the hammer, strike.

Edwin Markham

Markham began writing poetry at 20, published eight years later and began steady submissions for various publications. Nineteen years later, Markham was prompted by a famous painting to write a poem of labor that would be well received by the public and catapult him to peak influence.

However, continued work in the controversial subject matter brought him much influential negative criticism as well.

Much too often, the manifestations of labor and workplace topics continue today to impact the health and well-being of the social construct, and labor poetry remains popular.

Do you have a labor poem you’d like to share? If so, post it! Drop a link in comments.

#Prompt – Write a poem about a labor or workplace topic that impacts you in some way.

Some common labor issues are:

  • child labor
  • hours required
  • shift fatigue
  • split days off
  • health and safety
  • working conditions
  • right to refuse
  • discrimination (age, gender, race, etc.)
  • fair pay
  • equal pay
  • discrimination
  • workplace religion topics
  • harassment

-And so on.

Pick a point of concern and write to your heart’s content!


Poet Edwin Markham, via Poetry Foundation

Photo by John Salvino on Unsplash


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