I came across this poem at https://www.brainpickings.org/2017/01/31/protest-poem-ella-wheeler-wilcox-amanda-palmer/.
It offers prescient, poetic words for today’s need for protest.
PROTEST by Ella Wheeler Wilcox, 1914
To sin by silence, when we should protest,
Makes cowards out of men/(us). 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 criticize oppression and condemn
The lawlessness of wealth-protecting laws
That let the children and child bearers 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/(one)
Call this the land of freedom.
It seems every female under thirty
sounds like Miley Cyrus,
even knowledgeable commentators
on events before us;
every female under fifty wants to
look like Ivanka Trump,
every male wants to be somebody tough
— in the eyes of females, bad boys, studly hunks.
Everybody wants to be somebody,
because, in this entertainment culture,
there, seemingly, is no authenticity.
Authentic, a word so great —
authenticus “coming from the
author, genuine…” — Latin Late —
the Author of Life, the one who
is the Word, who said,
“Let us make humanity in our image,”
the Imago Dei,
the image of love,
lived authentically, uniquely
by the creation each and every day.
And so, if we are to be ourselves,
who are we to be?
Who we are already —
our authentic selves — the Love
made for eternity.
The following is from Poem-A-Day. As I read it, I saw it as a prayer for our country.
December 31, 2017
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action—
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
About This Poem
“Gitanjali 35” was published in Gitanjali (Song Offerings) (Macmillan, 1913).
Rabindranath Tagore was born in Calcutta, now Kolkata, in India, in 1861. His book Gitanjali (Song Offerings) (Macmillan, 1913) received the Nobel Prize in Literature. He died in 1941.
Poetry by Tagore
Gitanjali (Song Offerings)
(Martino Fine Books, 2015)
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He has always been an outlier
as he sees it now in hind site.
It used to be called the “black
sheep of the family,” and he
and his sister certainly were
that as the children of the
Swedish father intruder into
the covenant Dutch family.
Then so many years later
he and his wife sat at the
bar chit chatting with those
around the corner when
a former parishioner came
up to him and hugged him
and others followed behind
her saying, “We heard the
voice but didn’t recognize
the face,” which is now
absent of hair and then they
all joined in with a serendip-
itous, impromptu love fest.
They rose from the bar and
all hugged their former pastor
who was the one who made
all those outliers feel like
inside followers of Jesus
because, in his essence,
he was an outlier, too.
They laughed and hugged
and when he knew it was
time to go, he said, in
a moment of grace, “The
Lord be with you, “ while
making the sign of the
cross and all of them
standing next to the bar
responded, “And also with
you.” As he walked to his
car, he shed a tear of
gratitude that the outliers
recognized one of their
Fire conjures many responses and reactions —
some warm and wonderful with memories — like campfires;
some warm and wonderful with thoughts of frigid nights — like a fireplace;
some wonderful memories of childhood — like fireflies;
some funny — like “liar, liar, pants on fire”;
some signifying courage — like “fire in the belly”;
some scary — like a spark flying from the fireplace;
some horrifying — like a “four-alarm-fire” on a wintry night;
some haunting — like the burning memory of tragic loss;
some metaphorical — like the fire on the edges of the Devil’s clothes; like hell, which, of course, is its own metaphor;
some a simile — like “the fire that burns clean through”;
It is never just what it is, is it — one of the four elements?
Are we ever just what we are — like the four elements or something else, too — like spirit?
Spirit conjures many responses and reactions — like….
He read the word “plinth” in a poem —
a foundation, a brick. In the backyard,
he had placed blocks under the monk and
Confucius, the Buddha already sitting
on a flat stone, all plinths — foundations.
The country, right now, where is the found-
ation, the block, the solid rock? With no
plinth — with no foundation upon which to
build a nation — plinth — a foundation,
a brick, a block, a rock, a place for
the nation to sit on a rock for a while
in security and tranquility and figure
out, like The Thinker, what to do with
futurity and posterity. What is the
country’s plinth, where is it, if we
sit will it still fit? The Constitution
and Bill of Rights — the “plinth,” on
this foundation, block, rock — demo-
cratic plinth — we still can stand.
I. the world is white and
falling and blowing. behind
the permeable wall of white
are tall, bare trees with arms and
fingers rising to the clouds
to beckon the sun.
II. the world is white and
falling and blowing — behind
wall of white are tall trees with arms
rising, beckoning the sun.
III. the world is all white;
a blackbird flies through branches
behind white curtains.
A year ago, I opened the sliding,
glass door walked out onto the
balcony, leaned on the railing and
said hi to neighbor Nancy who
bobbed all by herself in the pool.
Today, I look out the window and
can barely see across the street
for the snow falling strong and
A year ago, I put on my jogging
shoes, left the condo in my
shorts and jogged slowly on the
trail paralleling Rt. 51 on my
way to the underpass and Piestewa
Peak and the Phoenix Mountain
Today, as I continue to look out the
window I am hoping for four inches
of snow to fall because then the
snow-plower will come. If not, I
will be the snow-plower and I won’t
be wearing jogging shoes and shorts.
A year ago, I was already looking
forward to returning the next year.
Today, I’m already looking forward
to next year, leaning over the rail-
ing and saying hi to neighbor Nancy
bobbing all by herself in the pool.
What a difference a year makes.
Star in the sky.
Three wise men.
Trip to Egypt.
Actually, just “no”
to all of the above.
All for prophesy
a child from
(Star and Angels),
from the East
son of David
(trip to and
So, did it
of the above.
The powers that be
from Cain to
bow to Thee…
the powers that be
scatter folks who flee
over land and sea.
take Your name
as have all the powers
down through history…
except Peter, Paul,
and all others you call
and who remained
true to Thee,
Glory be to Thee,
and Spirit of