"Had we ten Hands . . ."
December 2, 2015 9:52 AM Subscribe
In 1739, an English washer-woman named Mary Collier published a long poem called "The Woman's Labour" about the difficulties faced by working women. Her poem was a response to The Thresher's Labour by Stephen Duck, which mocked the poetic conceit that agricultural workers spend a pleasant time in nature, and took a few pot shots at women along the way: "Ah! were their Hands so active as their Tongues/ How nimbly then would move the Rakes and Prongs?" Collier refutes Duck's criticisms and describes women's added labour:
You sup, and go to Bed without delay,Along the way, her poem provides lots of interesting information about material culture and the labor women no longer do, such as polishing pewter and staying up late to brew beer.
And rest yourselves till the ensuing Day;
While we, alas! but little Sleep can have,
Because our froward Children cry and rave . . .
This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments