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Diaries, Memoirs, Poems, and Stories from the Center for Lowell History Collections

An Idyl of Work 
by Lucy Larcom
[extract from the book An idyl of work by Lucy Larcom 1824-1893]

The carding room, with its great groaning wheels,
Its earthquake rumblings, and its mingled smells
Of oily suffocation;
Long clean alleys, where the spinners paced
Silently up and down, and pieced their threads,
The spindles buzzing like then thousand bees.
The Long threads were wound from beam to beam,
And glazed, and then fanned dry in breathless heat.
Here lithe forms reached across wide webs, or stooped
To disentangle broken threads, or climbed 
To where their countenances glistened pale
Among swift belts and pulleys.
The door, swung in on iron hinges, showed
A hundred girls who hurried to and fro,
With hands and eyes following the shuttle’s flight,
Threading it, watching for the scarlet mark 
That came up in the web, to show how fast 
Their work was speeding. Clatter went the looms,
Click-clack the shuttles. Gossamer motes
Thickened the sunbeams into golden bars,
And in a misty maze those girlish forms,
Arms, hands, and heads, moved with the moving looms,
That closed them in as if all were one shape,
One motion.