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Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968).
The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest.  1915.
 
The Sad Sight of the Hungry

By Li Hung Chang

(A poem by the Chinese statesman, 1823–1901; known as the “Bismarck of Asia,” and said to have been the richest man in the world)
 
’TWOULD please me, gods, if you would spare
Mine eyes from all this hungry stare
That fills the face and eyes of men
Who search for food o’er hill and glen.
 
Their eyes are orbs of dullest fire,        5
As if the flame would mount up higher;
But in the darkness of their glow
We know the fuel’s burning low.
 
Such looks, O gods, are not from thee!
No, they’re the stares of misery!        10
They speak of hunger’s frightful hold
On lips a-dry and stomachs cold.
 
“Bread, bread,” they cry, these weary men,
With wives and children from the glen!
O, they would toil the live-long day        15
But for a meal, their lives to stay.
 
But where is it in all the land?
Unless the gods with gen’rous hand
Send sweetsome rice and strength’ning corn
To these vast crowds to hunger born!        20
 
 
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