Slowly the People waken; they have been,
Like weary soldiers, sleeping in their tents,
While traitors tiptoed through the silent camp
Intent on plunder. Suddenly a sound--
A careless movement of too bold a thief--
Starts one dull sleeper; then another stirs,
A third cries out a warning, and at last
The people are awake! Oh, when as one
The many rise, united and alert,
With Justice for their motto, they reflect
The mighty force of God's Omnipotence.
And nothing stands before them. Lusty Greed,
Tyrannical Corruption long in power,
And smirking Cant (whose right hand robs and slays
So that the left may dower Church and School),
Monopoly, whose mandate took from Toil
The Mother Earth, that Idleness might loll
And breed the Monster of Colossal Wealth--
All these must fall before the gathering Force
Of public indignation. That old strife
Which marks the progress of each century,
The war of Right with Might, is on once more,
And shame to him who does not take his stand.
This is the weightiest moment of all time,
And on the issues of the present hour
A nation's honour and a country's peace,
A People's future, Ay, a World's, depends.
Until the vital questions of the day
Are solved and settled, and the spendthrift thieves
Who rob the coffers of the saving poor
Are led from fashion's feasts to prison fare,
And taught the saving grace of honest work--
Till Labour claims the privilege of toil
And toil the proceeds of its labour shares--
Let no man sleep, let no man dare to sleep!
Poems of Progress and New Thought Pastels by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
London: Gay & Hancock, 1911.
|Back to Poem Index|