"Am I my brother's keeper?"
Yes, of a truth!
Thine asking is thine answer.
That self-condemning cry of Cain
Has been the plea of every selfish soul since then,
Which hath its brother slain.
God's word is plain,
And doth thy shrinking soul arraign.
Thy brother's keeper?
Yea, of a truth thou art!
For if not--who?
Are ye not both,--both thou and he
Of God's great family?
How rid thee of thy soul's responsibility?
For every ill in all the world
Each soul is sponsor and account must bear.
And He, and he thy brother of despair,
Claim, of thy overmuch, their share.
Thou hast had good, and he the strangled days;
But now,--the old things pass.
No longer of thy grace
Is he content to live in evil case
For the anointing of thy shining face.
The old things pass.--Beware lest ye pass with them,
And your place
Become an emptiness!
Beware! Lest, when the "Have-nots" claim,
From those who have, their rightful share,
Thy borders be swept bare
As by the final flame.
Better to share before than after.
"After?" ... For thee may be no after!
Only the howl of mocking laughter
At thy belated care. Make no mistake!--
"After" will be too late.
When once the "Have-nots" claim ... they take.
"After!" ... When that full claim is made,
You and your golden gods may all lie dead.
Set now your house in order,
Ere it be too late!
For, once the storm of hate
Be loosed, no man shall stay it till
Its thirst has slaked its fill,
And you, poor victims of this last "too late,"
Shall in the shadows mourn your lost estate.