The Problem





NOT without envy Wealth at times must look

On their brown strength who wield the reaping-hook

And scythe, or at the forge-fire shape the plough

Or the steel harness of the steeds of steam;

All who, by skill and patience, anyhow

Make service noble, and the earth redeem

From savageness. By kingly accolade

Than theirs was never worthier knighthood made.

Well for them, if, while demagogues their vain

And evil counsels proffer, they maintain

Their honest manhood unseduced, and wage

No war with Labor's right to Labor's gain

Of sweet home-comfort, rest of hand and brain,

And softer pillow for the head of Age.







And well for Gain if it ungrudging yields

Labor its just demand; and well for Ease

If in the uses of its own, it sees

No wrong to him who tills its pleasant fields

And spreads the table of its luxuries.

The interests of the rich man and the poor

Are one and same, inseparable evermore;

And, when scant wage or labor fail to give

Food, shelter, raiment, wherewithal to live,

Need has its rights, necessity its claim.

Yea, even self-wrought misery and shame

Test well the charity suffering long and kind.

The home-pressed question of the age can find

No answer in the catch-words of the blind

Leaders of blind. Solution there is none

Save in the Golden Rule of Christ alone.

1877.





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