Ella Wheeler Wilcox

The Chain

Men have outgrown the worthless creed,
    Which bade them deem it God's good will,
    That labor sweat and starve to fill,
And glut the purse of idle greed.

They have outgrown the poor content
    That breeds oppression. Forged by pain,
    Mind links with mind in one great chain
Of protest and of argument.

And by the hand of progress hurled,
    This mighty chain of human thought,
    In silence and in anguish wrought,
Encompasses the pulsing world.

And he who will not form a link
    Of new conditions soon to be,
    Ere long must stand aghast to see,
Old systems toppling down the brink.

They cannot and they shall not last.
    The broader impulse of the day
    Will gain and grow and sweep away
The rank injustice of the past.

The purport of the hour is vast.
    The world needs justice. It demands
    United hearts, united hands.
The day of charity is past.

Let no man think he can despoil
    And rob his kind by trick and fraud,
    And at the last make peace with God
By tossing alms to honest toil.

More labor for the selfish few;
    More leisure for the burdened mass;
    These things shall surely come to pass,
As old conditions change to new.

They change thro' strain and strike and strife,
    The worst but speeds the final best,
    Work for all men--for all men rest,
And time to taste the joys of life. 

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