Originally a poem authored by "an unknown proletarian," "We Have
Fed You All A Thousand Years" was set to music in 1916 by Rudolph
von Liebich. The song articulates the hardship and oppression
of the working class and asks by what right capitalists continue
to hoard the wealth created by the blood and sweat of others.
We have fed you all for a thousand years
And you hail us still unfed,
Though there's never a dollar of all your wealth
But marks the workers' dead.
We have yielded our best to give you rest
And you lie on crimson wool.
Then if blood be the price of all your wealth,
Good God! We have paid it in full!
There is never a mine blown skyward now
But we're buried alive for you.
There's never a wreck drifts shoreward now
But we are its ghastly crew.
Co reckon our dead by the forges red
And the factories where we spin.
If blood be the price of your cursed wealth
Good God! We have paid it in.
We have fed you all for a thousand years-
For that was our doom, you know,
From the days when you chained us in your fields
To the strike of a week ago.
You have taken our lives, and our babies and wives,
And we're told it's your legal share;
But if blood be the price of your lawful wealth
Good God! We have bought it fair.