Charity! A Word to the Rich.

For Charity’s sake! to the poor of the land
Your generous blessing extend, —
While Need and Affliction, with suppliant hand,
Solicit your help as a friend;
Remember, the Master of these, as of us,
On earth was a brother in need,
And all that you give to the desolate thus,
To Him do you give it, indeed !
To Him ! — in His Judgement, a fiery sword
Hath smitten, and scattered, and slain;
To Him ! — in His Mercy, the sword of the Lord
Returns to its scabbard again ;
To Him ! for the God who was pleased to be Man
In reason expects of His kin
To strive against evil, and do what we can
To chase away sorrow and sin.
O, Britain ! dear home of the good and the great,
The kind, and the fair, and the free,—
The nations applaud thee for strength and for state,
And marvel thy glory to see ;
Because — through the length and the breadth of thy land,
True Charity scatters her seed,
And Heaven still strengthens the heart and the hand
That blesses a brother in need !
Aye Britain ! the destitute’s refuge and rest,
O’ershadowed with olives and palms,
In war thou art prosper’d, in peace thou art blest,
Because of thy prayers and thine alms ;
The soft rain of heaven makes fertile thy fields,
And so in sweet incense again,
It rises like dew o’er the heaviest it yields,
To solace the children of pain.
Then hasten, ye wealthy ! to bless and be blest,
By giving to God of His own;
He asks you to help the diseased and distrest,
He pleads in the pang and the moan !
In vain? — can it be?— shall the Saviour in vain
Petition His pensioners thus?
Oh, no! with all gladness we give him again
What He giveth gladly to us !

Title:Charity! A Word to the Rich.

Author:By The Author Of “Proverbial Philosophy”

Publication:Preston Guardian

Published in:Preston


Keywords:charity, poverty


This poem, ‘By The Author Of “Proverbial Philosophy”’ contains forty lines divided into couplets implied by indentation. The structure of an eleven syllable line followed by a shorter 8 syllable line is repeated throughout. The rhyme scheme of ABAB further divides the poem into quatrains.

The poem is directly addressed to the rich in society, with concern to charitable giving, engendering the upper classes to “extend” their “generous blessing” on those who are less fortunate. The poet inspires a sense of duty through religious teachings in the imagery portrayed through the poem. The repetition of “To Him !” at the beginning of lines 8,9,11 and 13 create emphasis on the duty that the rich have to “Him” (God) to fulfil their Christian values by giving to the poor.

Furthermore, in the opening lines of the poem, the abstract nouns of “Need” and “Affliction” are capitalised, highlighting the unyielding plight of the poor. This is then echoed a few lines later where the poet capitalises the abstract nouns of “Judgement” and “Mercy” in a religious context. Therefore, the poet draws a parallel between this religious imagery and charitable deeds. Through drawing a link between religious judgement and charity, the poet alludes to a direct association between the two, hinting that through charitable deeds “Need” and “Affliction” can be eliminated and consequently provide the rich with virtuous wealth in the eyes of God. The poet engenders a sense of patriotism, highlighting the virtuous qualities associated with Britain. The line “O Britain! dear home of the good and the great,/ The kind, and the fair, and the free,” highlights a sense of desperation and an emotional plea, with an optimistic and complimentary portrayal of the British people. Through this, the poet appeals to the patriotic pride of Britain as a nation, eliminating any sense of class difference and highlighting a sense of unity, rather than a bitter critique of class difference.

Chloe Shaw, University of Exeter