Social Protest Lit: Lady Wilde’s “Despair”

indexA poem by Lady Wilde entitled “Despair” from Book IV called “Out of The Depths.” This chapter is focused on man’s pursuit of remedy for social injustice:

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,

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;

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

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.

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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