I am the Voice of the Voiceless

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Often those of us fighting for a kinder world for all animals encounter resistance, even if it’s gentle resistance from friends and family.

Sometimes I find myself weary of defending the cause and quite frankly too tired at times to go over why.

It’s at these times that I think of a woman far ahead of her time by the name of Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

She was born in 1850 and died in 1919, and was an American author and poet, and she speaks directly to my heart.

Her best-known work was Poems of Passion. Her most enduring work was “Solitude”, which contains the lines, “Laugh, and the world laughs with you; weep, and you weep alone”.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox cared about alleviating animal suffering, and no doubt wept alone, as so many of us fighting this uphill battle have done.

Often when I have no words left to defend the innocent, I think of this shortened version of her poem, “Kinship” (full poem below) and I am strengthened, knowing there are others who have felt and who feel the same sense of despair, and it gives me an inner conviction to keep on fighting.

Kinship
By Ella Wheeler Wilcox
(
1850-1919)

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.

Oh, shame on the mothers of mortals
Who have not stopped to teach
Of the sorrow that lies in dear, dumb eyes,
The sorrow that has no speech.

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.

I can’t help but think of her sorrow when back in her day there was no such thing as an animal rights movement and she must have truly been considered an oddball, someone who was really a visionary, and who would have rejoiced to see so many people heeding her words. I hope wherever she is on The Other Side that she knows about the changes happening and is helping spur them on. 🙂

Here is the full poem:

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.

Poems of experience. By Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
London : Gay and Hancock, Ltd. 1910.

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Posted on November 9, 2015, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Reblogged this on iliketowritewhatithink and commented:
    Wonderful woman, way ahead of her time. Ella Wheeler Wilcox. At least she never witnessed the horror of factory farms, though – a heinous post WW2 creation.

    Liked by 1 person

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