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Voice of the Voiceless

Poems of Experience
. By Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
London: Gay and Hancock, Ltd., 1913. 

I am the voice of the voiceless:
  Through me, the dumb shall speak;
Till the deaf world's ear be made to hear
  The cry of the wordless weak.
From street, from cage, and from kennel,
  From jungle and stall, the wail
Of my tortured kin proclaims the sin
  Of the mighty against the frail.

I am a ray from the centre;
  And I will feed God's spark,
Till a great light glows in the night and shows
  The dark deeds done in the dark.
And full on the thoughtless sleeper
  Shall flash its glaring flame,
Till he wakens to see what crimes may be
  Cloaked under an honoured name.

The same force formed the sparrow
  That fashioned Man, the King;
The God of the Whole gave a spark of soul
  To each furred and feathered thing.
And I am my brother's keeper,
  And I will fight his fight,
And speak the word for beast and bird,
  Till the world shall set things right.

Let no voice cavil at Science -
  The strong torch-bearer of God;
For brave are his deeds, though dying creeds,
   Must fall where his feet have trod.
But he who would trample kindness
   And mercy into the dust -
He has missed the trail and his quest will fail:
   He is not the guide to trust.

For love is the true religion,
  And love is the law sublime;
And all that is wrought, where love is not,
  Will die at the touch of time.
And Science, the great revealer,
  Must flame his torch at the Source;
And keep it bright, with that holy light
  Or his feet shall fail on the course.

Oh, never a brute in the forest,
  And never a snake in the fen,
Or ravening bird, starvation stirred,
  Has hunted its prey like men.
For hunger, and fear, and passion
  Alone drive beasts to slay,
But wonderful man, the crown of the plan,
  Tortures, and kills, for play.

He goes well fed from his table;
  He kisses his child and wife;
Then he haunts a wood, till he orphans a brood,
  Or robs a deer of its life.
He aims at a speck in the azure;
  Winged love, that has flown at a call;
It reels down to die, and he lets it lie;
  His pleasure was seeing it fall.

And one there was, weary of laurels,
  Of burdens and troubles of State;
So the jungle he sought, with the beautiful thought
  Of shooting a she lion's mate.
And one came down from the pulpit,
  In the pride of a duty done,
And his cloth sufficed, as his emblem of Christ,
  While murder smoked out of his gun.

One strays from the haunts of fashion
  With an indolent, unused brain;
But his sluggish heart feels a sudden start
  In the purpose of giving pain.
And the fluttering flock of pigeons,
  As they rise on eager wings,
From prison to death, bring a catch in his breath:
  Oh the rapture of killing things!

Now, this is the race as we find it,
  Where love, in the creed, spells hate;
And where bird and beast meet a foe in the priest
  And in rulers of fashion and State.
But up to the Kingdom of Thinkers
  Has risen the cry of our kin;
And the weapons of thought are burnished and brought
  To clash with the bludgeons of sin.

For Christ, of a million churches,
  Come near to the earth again;
Be more than a Name; be a living Flame;
  "Make Good" in the hearts of men.
Shine full on the path of  Science,
  And show it the heights above,
Where vast truths lie for the searching eye
  That shall follow the torch of love.

Poems of Experience. By Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
London: Gay and Hancock, Ltd., 1913. 
 
http://www.EllaWheelerWilcox.org - The Ella Wheeler Wilcox Society

Version II (presumed to be the earliest, and thus actually version 1)
Voice of the Voiceless

by
Ella Wheeler Wilcox, Poet Laureate of Humanity
Published by the American Humane Association, Albany, N.Y.

I am the voice of the voiceless:
  Through me, the dumb shall speak;
Till the deaf world's ear be made to hear
  The cry of the wordless weak.
From street, from cage, and from kennel,
  From jungle and stall, the wail
Of my tortured kin proclaims the sin
  Of the mighty against the frail.

For love is the true religion,
  And love is the law sublime;
And all that is wrought, where love is not,
  Will die at the touch of time.
And Science, the great Revealer,
  Must flame his torch at the Source;
And keep it bright, with that holy light
  Or his feet shall fail on the course.

For he who would trample kindness
  And mercy into the dust--
He has missed the trail, and his quest will fail:
  He is not the guide to trust.
Oh shame on the mothers of mortals
  Who have not stopped to teach
Of the sorrow that lies in dear, dumb eyes,
  The sorrow that has no speech.

Oh, never a brute in the forest,
  And never a snake in the fen,
Or ravening bird, starvation stirred,
  Has hunted his prey like men.
For hunger, and fear, and passion
  Alone drive beasts to slay,
But wonderful man, the crown of the Plan,
  Tortures, and kills, FOR PLAY.

He goes well fed from his table;
  He kisses his child and wife;
Then he haunts a wood, till he orphans a brood,
  Or robs a deer of its life.
He aims at a speck in the azure;
  Winged love, that has flown at a call;
It reels down to die, and he lets it lie;
  His pleasure was seeing it fall.

The same force formed the sparrow
  That fashioned Man, the King;
The God of the Whole gave a spark of soul
  To each furred and feathered thing.
And I am my brother's keeper,
  And I will fight his fight,
And speak the word for beast and bird,
  Till the world shall set things right.


Version III (republished on June 5, 1993 by the Chicago Tribune)
Voice of the Voiceless

So many gods, so many creeds,
So many paths that wind and wind,
While just the art of being kind
Is all the sad world needs.

I am the voice of the voiceless:
Through me, the dumb shall speak;
Till the deaf world's ear be made to hear
The cry of the wordless weak.

From street, from cage and from kennel,
From jungle and stall, the wail
Of my tortured kin proclaims the sin
Of the mighty against the frail.

For love is the true religion,
And love is the law sublime;
And all that is wrought, where love is not
Will die at the touch of time.

Oh, shame on the mothers of mortals
Who have not stopped to teach
Of the sorrow that lies in dear, dumb eyes,
The sorrow that has no speech.

The same Power formed the sparrow
That fashioned man - the King;
The God of the whole gave a living soul
To furred and to feathered thing.

And I am my brother's keeper,
And I will fight his fight;
And speak the word for beast and bird
Till the world shall set things right.


THE WORLD'S NEED

So many gods, so many creeds,
So many paths that wind and wind,
While just the art of being kind,
Is all the sad world needs.

Custer and other poems.by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
W. B. Conkey Company Chicago, Ill. (1896)
 

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