Charity! A Word to the Rich.
Title:Charity! A Word to the Rich.
Author:By The Author Of “Proverbial Philosophy”
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
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