The Voice of The Voiceless

Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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 IV. Printed broadside.
Albany, N.Y., American Humane Association.

"I am the voice of the voiceless... Till the world shall set things right." Ella Wheeler Wilcox. Photo D Liz Palmer and Adam © Poplar Springs Animal Sanctuary.

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