Wealth and Want
When late the outcasts’ bitter cry was heard
From the dim depths of London’s woe-worn city,
It filled men’s eyes with tears of shame, and stirred
Their hearts to pity.
But now there sounds a cry that asks not tears;
Stern silence now and fixed resolve were fitter.
Never did ring through all the world’s sad years
A cry so bitter;
The cry of children wailing night by night,
Wronged with the wrong that knows not consolation;
Smite with the curse of curses; body’s blight,
And soul’s damnation.
Now one true tongue has blasoned loud and well
This guilt that grave-faced hypocrites dissemble,
These deeds that men dare do, though devils in hell
Might fear and tremble.
Ay, Wealth and Want can goad the human soul
To crimes at which the thought and fancy sicken;
Proud Wealth, pale Want; one strong beyond control,
One gaunt and stricken.
’Tis Wealth that arms the rich with ruthless might,
And fosters cruel luxury to madness,
Enabling murky vice to quench the light
Of girlhood’s gladness.
’Tis Want that drags the pauper to the dust,
By bestial cares and wolfish famine martyred;
Health, honour, freedom, happiness—all must
For gold be bartered.
Shall this grim pair still walk the earth accurst,
Fierce ravening beasts of prey, a plague and wonder?
Up, men—if men ye be—arise, and burst
These bonds assunder.
H. S. S.
Justice, August 8, 1885