Works in the Herald 1935

Addressing the Congress of the British Association in London, Commissioner Lamb, of the Salvation Army, declared that the race was doomed because the mass of people acquiesced in a system that throws 25 per cent of the workers on the scrap heap, and tolerates slum housing.

We'd harbored them on hovels, and in dens,
   Altho' in price they counted less than cattle,
Had they not still the right, that ws all men's,
   To strive and in a place in life's stern battle?
Had they not still the gift of God's free air,
   His glorious sun, and every freeman's birthright
To fight the snarling pack and snatch a share?
   Why should the task be ours to set the earth right?

Man may not win (we'd said) to earthly ease
   Saving thro' strength, or birth, or lucky gamble.
Why, then, a truce to sentimental pleas;
   Let us continue with the merry scramble
In which the valiant strong, to gain high place
   Pulls down and climbs upon some weaker rival.
'Tis Nature's law.  And thus a stalwart race
   Is e'er upheld by glorious survival.

Upon the olden road to Jericho
   We watched, not one, but myriads fall and sicken.
We grieved; but saw no duty to stoop low.
   Were we accountable for all Earth's stricken?
Shrewdly we passed by on the other side,
   Planning such schemes as trouble a man's mind most.
"Not ours to alter Nature's law," we cried.
   "Each for himself, and devil take the hindmost."

And so the devil took them -- not for death;
   But to live on where want and squalor cherish
Undreamed-of evils, whose miasmal breath
   So taints the air that all the race may perish.
Is it too late to stay the avenging hand?
   Too late to hold at bay this savage Reaper
Men have invoked?  Till all shall understand
   And cry at last, "I am my brother's keeper!"

Herald, 11 September 1935, p6

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2004-05