Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Ella Wheeler Wilcox: Protest


To sin by silence, when we should protest,
Makes cowards out of men. The human race
Has climbed on protest. Had no voice been raised
Against injustice, ignorance, and lust,
The inquisition yet would serve the law,
And guillotines decide our least disputes.
The few who dare, must speak and speak again
To right the wrongs of many. Speech, thank God,
No vested power in this great day and land
Can gag or throttle. Press and voice may cry
Loud disapproval of existing ills;
May criticise oppression and condemn
The lawlessness of wealth-protecting laws
That let the children and childbearers toil
To purchase ease for idle millionaires.

.

Therefore I do protest against the boast
Of independence in this mighty land.
Call no chain strong, which holds one rusted link.
Call no land free, that holds one fettered slave.
Until the manacled slim wrists of babes
Are loosed to toss in childish sport and glee,
Until the mother bears no burden, save
The precious one beneath her heart, until
God’s soil is rescued from the clutch of greed
And given back to labor, let no man
Call this the land of freedom.


Public Domain

Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919) was born on November 5, 1850, in Johnstown Center, Wisconsin. She was a popular writer characterized mainly by her upbeat and optimistic poetry, though she was also an activist. Her poetry collections include Poems of Passion (W. B. Conkey Company, 1883) and Poems of Peace (Gay & Bird, 1906).

 

4 comments on “Ella Wheeler Wilcox: Protest

  1. Barbara Huntington
    June 5, 2020

    Thank you, Michael. I had never heard this poem, but its truth has always been there.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Daniel Burston
    June 5, 2020

    I love this poem. Thanks for bringing it to our attention, Mike. Tragic to think that her words are at least as resonant and relevant today as they were in her lifetime.

    Solidarity.

    Dan

    Liked by 2 people

  3. melpacker
    June 5, 2020

    Your silence is your knee on the necks of Black people.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. melpacker
    June 5, 2020

    Silence is your knee on the necks of Black people.

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on June 5, 2020 by in Opinion Leaders, Poetry, Social Justice and tagged , .

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