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.
 
The Beggar’s Complaint

From the Japanese

(Ancient Japanese classic)
 
THE HEAVEN and earth they call so great,
  For me are very small;
The sun and moon they call so bright,
  For me ne’er shine at all.
 
Are all men sad, or only I?        5
  And what have I obtained—
What good the gift of mortal life,
  That prize so rarely gained—
 
If nought my chilly back protects
  But one thin grass-cloth coat,        10
In tatters hanging like the weeds
  That on the billows float?
 
If here in smoke-stained, darksome hut,
  Upon the bare cold ground,
I make my wretched bed of straw,        15
  And hear the mournful sound—
 
Hear how mine aged parents groan,
  And wife and children cry,
Father and mother, children, wife,
  Huddling in misery—        20
 
If in the rice-pan, nigh forgot,
  The spider hangs its nest,
And from the hearth no smoke goes up
  Where all is so unblest?
 
Shame and despair are mine from day to day,        25
But, being no bird, I cannot fly away.
 
 
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