Nonfiction > Upton Sinclair, ed. > The Cry for Justice
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Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968).
The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest.  1915.
 
These Populations
(From “Towards Democracy”)

By Edward Carpenter

(English poet and philosopher, 1844–1929; disciple of Walt Whitman)
 
THESE populations—
  So puny, white-faced, machine-made,
  Turned out by factories! out of offices, out of drawing-rooms, by thousands all alike—
Huddled, stitched up, in clothes, fearing a chill, a drop of rain, looking timidly at the sea and sky as at strange monsters, or running back so quick to their suburban runs and burrows,
  Dapper, libidinous, cute, with washed-out small eyes—        5
  What are these?
  Are they men and women?
  Each denying himself, hiding himself?
  Are they men and women?
  So timorous, like hares—a breath of propriety or custom, a draught of wind, the mere threat of pain or of danger?        10
 
  O for a breath of the sea and the great mountains!
  A bronzed hardy live man walking his way through it all;
  Thousands of men companioning the waves and the storms, splendid in health, naked-breasted, catching the lion with their hands;
  A thousand women swift-footed and free—owners of themselves, forgetful of themselves, in all their actions—full of joy and laughter and action;
  Garbed not so differently from the men, joining with them in their games and sports, sharing also their labors;        15
  Free to hold their own, to grant or withhold their love, the same as the men;
  Strong, well-equipped in muscle and skill, clear of finesse and affectation—
  (The men, too, clear of much brutality and conceit)—
  Comrades together, equal in intelligence and adventure,
  Trusting without concealment, loving without shame but with discrimination and continence towards a perfect passion.        20
 
  O for a breath of the sea!
  The necessity and directness of the great elements themselves!
  Swimming the rivers, braving the sun, the cold, taming the animals and the earth, conquering the air with wings, and each other with love—
  The true, the human society!
 
 
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