The Worker Hero

I am a worker: one grain of the sands
that fill up the ruts, but also build the temples.
Perhaps I owe my life to God,
but my lot is a debt to myself.
I know the law: "Man, from your own sweat
you will earn your daily bread."

I erected Greece and Rome,
I destroyed arrogant Troy:
my hands are hammers, weapons to create
and destroy at will.
If you see before you any products of labor,
It was I who shaped them, gave them birth.

I am the monarch without throne or crown,
a master who must always obey another.
How many lucky men have I helped enrich,
while I myself remained hungry?
How many stood upon my shoulders?
My orphans have become Mammon and Nabob. . .

. . . All the buildings, streets and vehicles
were wrought by my hands of steel;
by the power I discovered—oil, coal, iron—
industry and commerce performed miracles;
but the gap between my life and property
widened . . . and my life has been subjugated.

To deprive my person of dignity
was the work of scheming minds;
but gold will indubitably remain gold,
fragrance of earth will elude concealment;
and if I am negated by the corruptors,
who will deny the final judgment of history?