Nonfiction > Upton Sinclair, ed. > The Cry for Justice

Upton Sinclair, ed. (1878–1968).
The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest.  1915.
To the Preacher
(From “In This Our World”)

By Charlotte Perkins Gilman

(America’s most brilliant woman poet and critic; born 1860)
PREACH about yesterday, Preacher!
      The time so far away:
When the hand of Deity smote and slew,
And the heathen plagued the stiff-necked Jew;
Or when the Man of Sorrow came,        5
And blessed the people who cursed his name—
Preach about yesterday, Preacher,
      Not about today!
Preach about tomorrow, Preacher!
      Beyond this world’s decay:        10
Of the sheepfold Paradise we priced
When we pinned our faith to Jesus Christ;
Of those hot depths that shall receive
The goats who would not so believe—
Preach about tomorrow, Preacher,        15
      Not about today!
Preach about the old sins, Preacher!
      And the old virtues, too:
You must not steal nor take man’s life,
You must not covet your neighbor’s wife,        20
And woman must cling at every cost
To her one virtue, or she is lost—
Preach about the old sins, Preacher!
      Not about the new!
Preach about the other man, Preacher!        25
      The man we all can see!
The man of oaths, the man of strife,
The man who drinks and beats his wife,
Who helps his mates to fret and shirk
When all they need is to keep at work—        30
Preach about the other man, Preacher!
      Not about me!

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