Nonfiction > Upton Sinclair, ed. > The Cry for Justice
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Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968).
The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest.  1915.
 
Incantations

By Max Eastman

(Editor of “The Masses,” 1883–1969)
 
I REMEMBER a vesper service at Ravello in Italy. I remember that the exquisite and pathetically resplendent little chapel was filled with ragged and dirty-smelling and sweet, sad-eyed mothers. Some carried in their arms their babies, some carried only a memory in their haggard eyes. They were all poor. They were all sad in that place. They were mothers. Mothers wrinkle-eyed, stooped, worn old, but yet gentle—O, so gentle and eager to believe that it would all be made up to them and their beloved in Heaven! I see their bodies swaying to the chant of meaningless long syllables of Latin magic, I see them worked upon by those dark agencies of candle, and minor chord, and incense, and the unknown tongue, and I see that this little dirt-colored coin clutched so tight in their five fingers is going to be given up, with a kind of desperate haste, ere the climax of these incantations is past. Poor, anguished dupes of the hope of Heaven, poor mothers, pinching your own children’s bellies to fatten the wallets of those fat priests!  1
 
 
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