Machines roar their voracious appetite.
Mill girls risk hands and limbs,
work fourteen-hour days.
River powers turbine belts,
transforms cotton bales to cloth.
Spindle City’s deleterious result,
more slaves on auction blocks.
Black hands blister in cotton fields.
Industrial revolution’s progress
paves misery’s trail.



Written for Monday’s Quadrille at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets.  De is tending the pub and asks us to include the word “roar” in our Quadrille, a poem of exactly 44 words sans title. Photos from this past summer’s visit to Lowell, Massachusetts and the Bott Cotton Mills Museum. Lowell, once known as Spindle City, is recognized as the Cradle of the American Industrial Revolution. The first textile mill was built there in 1826. By 1850 it was America’s largest industrial center with many large textile mills and factories. By 1840 there were 8,000 workers in the mills, mostly women between the ages of fifteen and thirty. Within one year, the mills could transform raw bales of cotton into 50,000 miles of cotton cloth. The North’s increased appetite for cotton textiles led to an expansion of slavery. One side note: Some of the Southern cotton was made into ‘negro cloth’ at the Lowell mills and sold to plantation owners for their slaves.

18 thoughts on “Repercussions

  1. Björn Rudberg (brudberg) January 13, 2020 / 3:37 pm

    The industrial revolution did grind down humans…. and we have to remember that without the slaves there wouldn’t be any cotton to weave.


  2. whimsygizmo January 13, 2020 / 3:38 pm

    A powerful piece, Lil. Looking back, it’s always hard to believe the crazy dangers of the beginnings of progress.


  3. Linda Kruschke January 13, 2020 / 3:40 pm

    A well-penned commentary on the effects of the industrial revolution and the hankering for more.


  4. Glenn A. Buttkus January 13, 2020 / 4:01 pm

    So ironic that now we have developed technology to replace humans, and we fear a robotic revolution.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. msjadeli January 13, 2020 / 4:08 pm

    Machines are the death of us, then, now, and in the future. Eloquent tribute to some of their victims, Lillian.


  6. Beverly Crawford January 13, 2020 / 5:25 pm

    You’ve turned the quadrille into a history lesson! Standing ovation from here.


  7. calmkate January 13, 2020 / 5:50 pm

    a great reminder of how we got here … if only we could learn from our mistakes!


  8. Frank Hubeny January 13, 2020 / 6:00 pm

    Interesting how cotton supported both north and south and slavery.


  9. gillena cox January 13, 2020 / 6:19 pm

    A little bit of poetry a whole lot of history. Bravo
    Happy Monday Lillian



  10. jazzytower January 13, 2020 / 7:17 pm

    Cotton….not a pretty history. Well penned!



  11. jazzytower January 13, 2020 / 7:17 pm

    Cotton….not a pretty history. Well penned!



  12. Grace January 13, 2020 / 8:07 pm

    And what a time it was – a lot of labour for industrial gains. I appreciate the photos and historical notes.


  13. Ali Grimshaw January 14, 2020 / 1:02 am

    A poem full of history worth remembering. The photos are a wonderful addition.


  14. kim881 January 14, 2020 / 2:23 am

    Thank you for the interesting background to your historical quadrille, Lill, and the photos. The industrial revolution’s progress paved a trail of misery wherever it went. The story of American cotton is upsetting. It’s hard to imagine the roar the mill workers had to contend with every day. I read that many British mill workers and weavers went deaf – and then, of course, so many got lung disease from the fibres that filled the air.


  15. pvcann January 14, 2020 / 9:18 am

    Such pain and sadness set against the unrelenting roar of the all consuming machines.


  16. qbit January 15, 2020 / 3:32 pm

    Interesting history in all that.


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