Sunday, February 5, 2017

Ella Wheeler Wilcox - "The Sin of Silence"

                                                      Ella Wheeler Wilcox- 1850 -1919


To sin by silence, when we should protest,
Makes cowards out of men. 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
Call this the land of freedom.

The first line of this poem, that has been referred to as an Anthem Against Silence and had been falsely attributed to Abraham Lincoln, when in fact the quote is from Ella Wheeler Wilcox's poem, Protest, written at the height of the Suffrage Movement and just prior to WW1.

Musician Amanda Palmer's reading of the Protest poem brings the reality of our present time in history. Acutely and poignantly it quickly comes into perspective, bringing to life the real, profound relevance and meaning of this poem, in particular, the first line.

 Poetry is meant to be read out loud and Amanda Palmer's reading on Sound Cloud makes this poem  powerfully relevant, with a timeless message, we all need to hear.

" To sin by silence, when we should protest, Makes cowards out of men. "

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