The Voice of the Voiceless

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I am the voice of the voiceless;
   Through me the dumb shall speak;
Till the deaf world’s ear be made to hear
   The cry of the wordless weak.
From street, from cage, and from kennel,
   From jungle and stall, the wail
Of my tortured kin proclaims the sin
   Of the mighty against the frail.

I am a ray from the centre;
   And I will feed God’s spark,
Till a great light glows in the night and shows
   The dark deeds done in the dark.
And full on the thoughtless sleeper
   Shall flash its glaring flame,
Till he wakens to see what crimes may be
   Cloaked under an honoured name.

The same Force formed the sparrow
   That fashioned man, the king;
The God of the Whole gave a spark of soul
   To furred and to feathered thing.
And I am my brother’s keeper,
   And I will fight his fight,
And speak the word for beast and bird,
   Till the world shall set things right.

Let no voice cavil at Science -
   The strong torch-bearer of God;
For brave are his deeds, though dying creeds,
   Must fall where his feet have trod.
But he who would trample kindness
   And mercy into the dust -
He has missed the trail, and his quest will fail:
   He is not the guide to trust.

For love is the true religion,
   And love is the law sublime;
And all that is wrought, where love is not,
   Will die at the touch of time.
And Science, the great revealer,
   Must flame his torch at the Source;
And keep it bright with that holy light,
   Or his feet shall fail on the course.

Oh, never a brute in the forest,
   And never a snake in the fen,
Or ravening bird, starvation stirred,
   Has hunted its prey like men.
For hunger, and fear, and passion
   Alone drive beasts to slay,
But wonderful man, the crown of the plan,
   Tortures, and kills, for play.

He goes well fed from his table;
   He kisses his child and wife;
Then he haunts a wood, till he orphans a brood,
   Or robs a deer of its life.
He aims at a speck in the azure;
   Winged love, that has flown at a call;
It reels down to die, and he lets it lie;
   His pleasure was seeing it fall.

And one there was, weary of laurels,
   Of burdens and troubles of State;
So the jungle he sought, with the beautiful thought
   Of shooting a she lion’s mate.
And one came down from the pulpit,
   In the pride of a duty done,
And his cloth sufficed, as his emblem of Christ,
   While murder smoked out of his gun.

One strays from the haunts of fashion
   With an indolent, unused brain;
But his sluggish heart feels a sudden start
   In the purpose of giving pain.
And the fluttering flock of pigeons,
   As they rise on eager wings,
From prison to death, bring a catch in his breath:
   Oh, the rapture of killing things!

Now, this is the race as we find it,
   Where love, in the creed, spells hate;
And where bird and beast meet a foe in the priest
   And in rulers of fashion and State.
But up to the Kingdom of Thinkers
   Has risen the cry of our kin;
And the weapons of thought are burnished and brought
   To clash with the bludgeons of sin.

Far Christ, of a million churches,
   Come near to the earth again;
Be more than a Name; be a living Flame;
   ‘Make Good’ in the hearts of men.
Shine full on the path of Science,
   And show it the heights above,
Where vast truths lie for the searching eye
   That shall follow the torch of love.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1924.

The author died in 1919, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 99 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.