THE COMMONWEALTH OF TOIL (RALPH CHAPLIN) (1910s)
Tune: "Darling Nelly Gray"

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Ralph Chaplin wrote, and thousands of Wobblies sang of the day "when the earth is owned by labor and there's joy and peace for all in the commonwealth of toil that is to be." Like Chaplin's more famous song, "Solidarity Forever," "The Commonwealth of Toil" was set to a familar tune -- this time, "Darling Nelly Gray." Although it is rarely heard today, it remains a good example of the many stirring songs produced by the Wobblies.
Edith Fowke and Joe Glazer, eds., Songs of Work and Protest, New York, NY, 1973, p. 16.

Lyrics as reprinted ibid., pp. 14-16.

In the gloom of mighty cities
Mid the roar of whirling wheels
We are toiling on like chattel slaves of old,
And our masters hope to keep us
Ever thus beneath their heels,
And to coin our very life blood into gold.
CHORUS:
But we have a glowing dream
Of how fair the world will seem
When each man can live his life secure and free;
When the earth is owned by labor
And there's joy and peace for all
In the Commonwealth of Toil that is to be.
They would keep us cowed and beaten,
Cringing meekly at their feet.
They would stand between each worker and his bread.
Shall we yield our lives up to them
For the bitter crust we eat?
Shall we only hope for heaven when we're dead?

They have laid our lives out for us
To the utter end of time.
Shall we stagger on beneath their heavy load?
Shall we let them live forever
In their gilded halls of crime,
With our children doomed to toil beneath their goad?

When our cause is all triumphant
And we claim our Mother Earth,
And the nightmare of the present fades away,
We shall live with love and laughter,
We who now are little worth,
And we'll not regret the price we have to pay.

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