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

By Lady Wilde

(Irish poetess, mother of Oscar Wilde; wrote under the pen-name of Speranza)
 
BEFORE us dies our brother, of starvation;
  Around are cries of famine and despair!
Where is hope for us, or comfort or salvation—
  Where—oh! where?
If the angels ever hearken, downward bending,        5
  They are weeping, we are sure,
At the litanies of human groans ascending
  From the crushed hearts of the poor.
 
We never knew a childhood’s mirth and gladness,
  Nor the proud heart of youth free and brave;        10
Oh, a death-like dream of wretchedness and sadness
  Is life’s weary journey to the grave!
Day by day we lower sink, and lower,
  Till the God-like soul within
Falls crushed beneath the fearful demon power        15
  Of poverty and sin.
 
So we toil on, on with fever burning
  In heart and brain;
So we toil on, on through bitter scorning
  Want, woe, and pain.        20
We dare not raise our eyes to the blue heavens
  Or the toil must cease—
We dare not breathe the fresh air God has given
  One hour in peace.
 
 
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