Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE, by RICHARD MONCKTON MILNES

Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: Who is this man whose words have might
Last Line: Rest all the punishment and shame.
Alternate Author Name(s): Houghton, 1st Baron; Houghton, Lord
Subject(s): Public Opinion

WHO is this man whose words have might
To lead you from your rest or care,
Who speaks as if the earth were right
To stop its course and listen there?
Where is the symbol of command
By which he claims this lofty tone?
His hand is as another's hand, --
His speech no stronger than your own.

He bids you wonder, weep, rejoice,
Saying, -- "It is yourselves, not I;
I speak but with the People's voice,
I see but with the People's eye." --
Words of imposing pride and strength,
Words that contain, in little span,
The secret of the height and length
Of all the intelligence of man.

Yet, Brothers! God has given to few,
Through the long progress of our kind,
To read with eyes undimmed and true
The blotted book of public mind;
To separate from the moment's will
The heart's enduring real desires,
To tell the steps of coming ill,
And seek the good the time requires. --

These are the Prophets, these the Kings,
And Lawgivers of human thought,
Who in our being's deepest springs
The engines of their might have sought:
Whose utterance comes, we know not whence,
Being no more their own than ours,
With instantaneous evidence
Of titles just and sacred powers.

But bold usurpers may arise
Of this as of another's throne;
Persuasion waits upon the wise,
But waits not on the wise alone:
An echo of your evil self
No better than the voice can be,
And appetites of fame or pelf
Grow not in good as in degree.

Then try the speaker, try the cause,
With prudent care, as men who know
The subtle nature of the laws
By which our feelings ebb and flow:
Lest virtue's void and reason's lack
Be hid beneath a specious name,
And on the People's helpless back
Rest all the punishment and shame.

Discover our poem explanations - click here!

Other Poems of Interest...

Home: PoetryExplorer.net