The Painful Process [poem, 12 October 1918]

[Editor: A poem published in “The Critic” column in Truth, 12 October 1918.]

The Painful Process.

He was a small and earnest man
Upon a platform large and bleak,
Discoursing on the social plan,
And, like those fellows have who speak
On social schemes and politics,
He had the usual platform tricks.

He waved his arms and stamped about,
And smote the table with his fist,
And was, there’s not the slightest doubt,
A finished el-o-cu-tionist:
A fluent speaker — college bred,
Who knew the game from A to Z.

Philosophers now dead and gone,
He said, in ancient times had taught
That people should bestow upon
That painful process known as thought
Much more attention than they do
(Or perhaps are ever likely to).

With open mouths his hearers gaped,
And large receptive ears they flapped,
The while the speaker deftly shaped
His turns of speech and phrases apt;
While claiming thought could never be
Suppressed or slain by tyranny.

Ideas, this earnest man declared,
Have crumbled thrones and shattered states.
A single thought, by many shared,
Red handed murder consecrates,
For right is only right as long
As people do not deem it wrong.

I left the hall — such shocking views
I really think should not be taught,
For why should common people use
That painful process known as thought,
Since right and wrong t’would surely show,
Are just as thinking makes them so.

It’s awful — small and earnest men
In dungeons grim should be immured,
And ’gainst their machinations then
Would loyal subjects be secured;
For, given shelter, food, and drink,
What right have common folk to think?

Truth (Melbourne, Vic.), 12 October 1918, p. 1

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