Poetry

Protest

Ella Wheeler Wilcox’s “Protest” first appeared in her 1914 compilation Poems of Problems. Her popular poetry often features plain, rhyming verse that centered around cheer and optimism. However, “Protest” provides a valuable look at a different side of Wilcox, revealing an activist who strongly advocated for the rights of labor and women. The poem features a striking condemnation of historical oppression and rampant capitalism while building a case for why protest is necessary to affect change on a greater level. Published during the peak of the women’s suffrage movement and at the start of World War I, “Protest” provides a powerful call to action that enlists the reader in questioning the existence and meaning of “freedom” if certain freedoms only apply to a select few. Wilcox reminds the reader that the marginalized do have voices, but that these voices can only be heard if we all start to speak up and demand to be heard.

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