No Classes!

By Ella Wheeler Wilcox 1850–1919
No classes here! Why, that is idle talk.
   The village beau sneers at the country boor;
The importuning mendicants who walk
   Our cites’ streets despise the parish poor.

The daily toiler at some noisy loom
   Holds back her garments from the kitchen aid.
Meanwhile the latter leans upon her broom,
   Unconscious of the bow the laundress made.

The grocer’s daughter eyes the farmer’s lass
   With haughty glances; and the lawyer’s wife
Would pay no visits to the trading class,
   If policy were not her creed in life.

The merchant’s son nods coldly at the clerk;
   The proud possessor of a pedigree
Ignores the youth whose father rose by work;
   The title-seeking maiden scorns all three.

The aristocracy of blood looks down
   Upon the “nouveau riche”; and in disdain,
The lovers of the intellectual frown
   On both, and worship at the shrine of brain.

“No classes here,” the clergyman has said;
   “We are one family.” Yet see his rage
And horror when his favorite son would wed
   Some pure and pretty player on the stage.

It is the vain but natural way
   Of vaunting our weak selves, our pride, our worth!
Not till the long delayed millennial day
   Shall we behold “no classes” on God’s earth.

Source: American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century (The Library of America, 1993)

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Poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox 1850–1919

Subjects Class, Social Commentaries

 Ella Wheeler Wilcox


Ella Wheeler Wilcox was born in Johnstown, Wisconsin and her poetry was being published by the time she graduated from high school. Her poetry was very popular, generally written in plain, rhyming verse. Her works include Poems of Passion (1883), A Woman of the World (1904), Poems of Peace (1906), Poems of Experience (1910), and Poems (1919).

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SUBJECT Class, Social Commentaries

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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