Monday, November 5, 2012

Monday's Poetry: "The Poor Voter on Election Day"

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

For today's poetry selection I searched for something relevant to tomorrow's presidential election - and there were many poems from which to choose, some whimsical and others of a more serious nature.  The one that I ultimately selected, "The Poor Voter on Election Day," was written in 1852 by American poet John Greenleaf Whittier.    The poem was very egalitarian, basically stressing that all men become equal through the process of voting.  The focus was on men, the only voters at the time.  In fact, Whittier would have been focused on white men, because his poem about elections was written more than a decade before the slaves were freed and received the vote - and it was written over half a century before women were given the right to vote in federal elections.

While "The Poor Voter on Election Day" is a tribute to those who were going to the polls at the midpoint of the nineteenth century, it also serves as a mirror into a bygone era, an era in which democracy meant far less than it does today.

Enjoy the poem - and get up early and go vote!

The Poor Voter on Election Day
by John Greenleaf Whittier

The proudest now is but my peer,
The highest not more high;
To-day, of all the weary year,
A king of men am I.
To-day alike are great and small,
The nameless and the known
My palace is the people’s hall,
The ballot-box my throne!

Who serves to-day upon the list
Beside the served shall stand;
Alike the brown and wrinkled fist,
The gloved and dainty hand!
The rich is level with the poor,
The weak is strong to-day;
And sleekest broadcloth counts no more
Than homespun frock of gray.

To-day let pomp and vain pretence
My stubborn right abide;
I set a plain man’s common sense
Against the pedant’s pride.
To-day shall simple manhood try
The strength of gold and land
The wide world has not wealth to buy
The power in my right hand!

While there’s a grief to seek redress,
Or balance to adjust,
Where weighs our living manhood less
Than Mammon’s vilest dust, —
While there’s a right to need my vote
A wrong to sweep away,
Up! clouted knee and ragged coat!
A man’s a man to-day!

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