Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919) wrote this poem a century ago. It is one of the best poetic works regarding animals and is often cited as the raison d’être by many in the animal rescue and protection arenas. As someone who feels deeply about protecting and caring for animals, surely “the least of these”, I wanted to share it with you because it carries a deep meaning for me as well. I hope it can also touch your heart in favor of those who rely on us for their very survival.
It begs the question: who shall speak on behalf of those creatures humans give no voice? I hope in my life that I can stand among those brave enough to be counted advocates for the animals of our world. Someone must speak for them in the court of human affairs where they are denied participation and protection.
I am the voice of the voiceless;
Through me the dumb shall speak,
Till the deaf world’s ear be made to hear
The wrongs of the wordless weak.
From street, from cage and from kennel,
From stable and zoo, the wail
Of my tortured kin proclaims the sin
Of the mighty against the frail.
Oh, shame on the mothers of mortals
Who have not stopped to teach
Of the sorrow that lies in dear, dumb eyes,
The sorrow that has no speech.
The same force formed the sparrow
That fashioned man the king;
The God of the whole gave a spark of soul
To furred and to feathered thing.
And I am my brother’s keeper,
And I will fight his fight,
And speak the word for beast and bird,
Till the world shall set things right.