Volunteers Wanted

Edith Nesbit

(15 August 1858 – 4 May 1924 / Kennington / Surrey / England)

A Last Appeal


KNOWING our needs, hardly knowing our powers,
Hear how we cry to you, brothers of ours!--
Brothers in nature, pulse, passions, and pains,
Our sins in you, and your blood in our veins.
First in your palace, or last in our den,
Basest or best, we are all of us men!
Justice eternal cries out in our name,
What is the least common manhood can claim?
'Food that we make for you,
Money we earn:
Give us our share of them--
Give us our turn.'


Landowners, bankers, and merchants, we make
Out of our lives this new wealth that you take.
Have we earned only such pitiful dole
As just holds worn body to desolate soul?
When that soul is bewildered each day and perplext
With the problem of how to get bread for the next,
Is it better to end it, as some of us do,
Or to fight it out bravely, still calling to you--
'Food that we make for you,
Money we earn:
Give us our share of them--
Give us our turn'?


Ever more passionate grows our demand--
Give us our share of our food and our land:
Give us our rights, make us equal and free--
Let us be all we are not, but might be.
Our sons would be honest, our daughters be pure,
If our wage were more certain, your vices less sure--
Oh, you who are forging the fetters we feel,
Hear our wild protest, our maddened appeal--
'Food that we make for you,
Money we earn:
Give us our share of them--
Give us our turn.'


Hear us, and answer, while Time is your friend,
Lest we be answered by God in the end;
Lest, when the flame of His patience burns low,
We be the weapon He shapes for His blow--
Lest with His foot on your necks He shall stand,
And appeal that you spurned be new-born as command,
And thunder your doom, as you die by the rod
Of the vengeance of man through the justice of God.
'Food that we make for you,
Money we earn:
Give us our share of them--
Give us our turn.'

Submitted: Monday, April 19, 2010

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