Poem: ‘Freedom or Slavery?’
Born in a world that is tainted and rank with disease;
Bred amid squalor and sunk in monotonous toil;
Almost inhuman, like beasts that are laden and led.
Is our fate fixed? Shall there ne’er be cessation and ease
For our torn, weary feet? Shall we ne’er have the strength to recoil
From the sad death-in-life, where to live is to envy the dead?
Beauty of nature and art, of fame and creative joy,
Nothing of these do we know, nor care we to understand;
Love that is truly has touched us and passed us by.
Chain-laden slaves are we, whom our masters can crush and destroy
At their wayward, whimsical will, with a negligent wave of the hand,
In the way a wanton child might crush and torture a fly.
Is there no God to help, no Zeus, or Jahveh, or Buddh?
As well might our prayers be made to an image of wood or stone,
Hear, then, the truth; be sure you shall find it discordant and crude.
But harmony creeps through the discord, and a light in the crudeness gleams—
Freedom is our for the taking, and the power to take our own.
Out of the wreck of a world that is falling into decay,
Rise, if within you dwells a spark of the will to dare;
Come in our ranks and work, and fight, and if need be die!
We have nothing to lose but our chains. Of a surety comes a day
When a choice must be made at last, when we break the fetters we wear
Or retain them still, slaves proud of our slavery.
F. J. Webb.