The Worker

He’d a spark in his eye and a bounce in his stride
As he walked down the road with a bag at his side.
He was seventeen years on the day he left home
To find happiness henceforth the wide world to roam.
“Fare-thee-well my dear mother, someday I’ll return
With a pure loving wife and a fortune I’ll earn.
From endeavors of labor I never shall shirk;
For the sum of success is devotion to work.”
He was true to his word when he laid his first brick,
Soon he proved himself hardy, both sturdy and quick.
So affixed was his mind as he toiled day and night
That three years passed him by ere he thought on his plight.
“With the years I have spent making walls out of clay
I’ve but pennies to show at the end of the day.
Though the labor I love, some advancement I’ll take;
As a foreman perhaps my career I shall make.”
At his side were his tools and his shirt full of grime
As he walked up the stairs while the bell rang the time.
To the men in the office he offered his case
While through teeth clean and white they did smile at his face.
“You are far the best worker that ever we’ve seen
And for that one more penny per day you shall glean.
But so steady a worker we can’t do without,
So keep up the good work till we give you a shout.”
Given heart by such praises that strengthened his pride
He redoubled his efforts to prove himself tried.
After seven such years now his heart felt a pain
As he pondered his life, giving pause once again.
“All my love has been given to shaping of stone,
But it’s time I no longer took bread all alone.
I am strong, I’ve some money, I’m loyal and true,
I’ll go down to the town where a woman to woo.”
From the brickyard he marched with a confident air.
He was muscled and handsome, his eyes bright and fair.
In a month he had won the best beauty in town;
In another he’d bought her a ring and a gown.
“I know happiness now that my life is complete.
 But if love gives us children, they surely must eat.
My dear wife, from henceforth I’ll be gone by the day
Twice as hard must I work now to earn us more pay.”
Two more years in the ditches he made his employ,
Little time he had free, though he spent that in joy.
But his wife was not patient with time so hard-spent,
And she took herself off with a dandy new gent.
“I know not why I lost her for whom I grew rough,
But it seems that I labored not quite hard enough.
So I failed, but I’ll work evermore while I can,
And so prove to creation that I’m still a man.”
By the night in the brickyard, by day in the pit,
Losing track of the time, never pausing to sit,
He abandoned the hope of some happier goal,
For a dream but diluted his unyielding soul.
“I am better with each mighty swing of the pick,
More deserving whenever I lay a new brick.
All I am, all I know is in work to abide;
Someday God or some man will see how I have tried.”
Now his eyes held no spark and he strained for his sight,
While the sweat ran thin streams down a beard that was white.
Once more lifting the pick, he held trembling his side;
He had broke his old heart, and so digging he died.
“Had this one any family, some friends that he knew?
Even those who can tell us his name are but few.
Since no wife has come forth nor do children hold claim,
Push him into his ditch, buried cheap with no shame.”
As the earth he’d uncovered now covered him back,
No one saw how his face, under smudges of black,
Showed no longer the grief of a soul straining deep;
From his life without rest he’d forevermore sleep.
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Written on October 13, 2013

Submitted by JohnsMusings on June 11, 2022

Modified on April 29, 2023

3:49 min read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic hexameter
Characters 3,560
Words 764
Stanzas 17
Stanza Lengths 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4

John M. Broadhead

John grew up in a rural area outside Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he was afforded endless room for his imagination to grow from an early age. Filmmaking was his first passion, a passion which led him to screenwriting and then to poetry and prose. His Bachelors degree is in English Literature, and he has written several feature length screenplays, two science fiction novels and a collection of poetry. He still lives in Albuquerque. Please follow me at for news about my upcoming novel release! more…

All John M. Broadhead poems | John M. Broadhead Books

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Discuss the poem The Worker with the community...

  • Philipo
    Pitiable way to go. Clean heart and clean pocket and clean brain. Sometimes, a little of this and a little of that do the trick. Fine work here.
    LikeReply1 year ago
  • robertrad2021
    LikeReply2 years ago
  • lovingempath
    I had narrowed down my list, and finally had to do a coin-toss between your two submissions. Everything about this poem is perfect, and sets a higher standard for the rest of us. Congratulations!
    LikeReply2 years ago
  • drb
    This is an excellent poem!
    LikeReply2 years ago
  • DarthFiddle
    It is well constructed, and I was drawn into the life story of the subject. The worker's journey was vividly portrayed.
    LikeReply2 years ago


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"The Worker" STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 15 Jul 2024. <>.

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