Laissez-Faire

We'd harbored them on hovels, and in dens,
Altho' in price they counted less than cattle,
Had they not still the right, that ws all men's,
To strive and in a place in life's stern battle?
Had they not still the gift of God's free air,
His glorious sun, and every freeman's birthright
To fight the snarling pack and snatch a share?
Why should the task be ours to set the earth right?

Man may not win (we'd said) to earthly ease
Saving thro' strength, or birth, or lucky gamble.
Why, then, a truce to sentimental pleas;
Let us continue with the merry scramble
In which the valiant strong, to gain high place
Pulls down and climbs upon some weaker rival.
'Tis Nature's law. And thus a stalwart race
Is e'er upheld by glorious survival.

Upon the olden road to Jericho
We watched, not one, but myriads fall and sicken.
We grieved; but saw no duty to stoop low.
Were we accountable for all Earth's stricken?
Shrewdly we passed by on the other side,
Planning such schemes as trouble a man's mind most.
'Not ours to alter Nature's law,' we cried.
'Each for himself, and devil take the hindmost.'

And so the devil took them - not for death;
But to live on where want and squalor cherish
Undreamed-of evils, whose miasmal breath
So taints the air that all the race may perish.
Is it too late to stay the avenging hand?
Too late to hold at bay this savage Reaper
Men have invoked? Till all shall understand
And cry at last, 'I am my brother's keeper!'

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"Laissez-Faire" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 11 Dec. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/6421/laissez-faire>.

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