Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968). rn The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest. 1915.


Cowper, William

William Cowper

(English poet, 1731–1800)

O FOR a lodge in some vast wilderness,

Some boundless contiguity of shade,

Where rumor of oppression and deceit,

Of unsuccessful or successful war,

Might never reach me more. My ear is pained,

My soul is sick, with every day’s report

Of wrong and outrage with which earth is filled.

There is no flesh in man’s obdurate heart,

It does not feel for man; the natural bond

Of brotherhood is severed as the flax

That falls asunder at the touch of fire.

He finds his fellow guilty of a skin

Not colored like his own; and having power

To enforce the wrong, for such a worthy cause

Dooms and devotes him as his lawful prey.

Lands intersected by a narrow frith

Abhor each other. Mountains interposed

Make enemies of nations, who had else

Like kindred drops been mingled into one.

Thus man devotes his brother, and destroys;

And, worse than all, and most to be deplored,

As human nature’s broadest, foulest blot,

Chains him, and tasks him, and exacts his sweat

With stripes, that Mercy, with a bleeding heart,

Weeps when she sees inflicted on a beast.