“Who are the oppressors? The few: the King, the capitalist, and a handful of other overseers and superintendents. Who are the oppressed? The many: the nations of the earth; the valuable personages; the workers; they that make the bread that the soft-handed and idle eat.” Mark Twain from Philip S. Foner, Mark Twain: Social Critic
O Lord, our father,
Our young patriots, idols of our hearts,
Go forth to battle – be Thou near them!
With them, in spirit, we also go forth
From the sweet peace of our beloved firesides To smite the foe.
O Lord, our God,
Help us to tear their soldiers
To bloody shreds with our shells;
Help us to cover their smiling fields
With the pale forms of their patriot dead; Help us to drown the thunder of
the guns With the shrieks of their wounded,
Writhing in pain.
Help us to lay waste their humble homes
With a hurricane of fire;
Help us to wring the hearts of their
Unoffending widows with unavailing grief; Help us to turn them out roofless
With their little children to wander unfriended The wastes of their
In rags and hunger and thirst,
Sports of the sun flames of summer
And the icy winds of winter,
Burdened in spirit, worn with travail,
Imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it –
For our sakes who adore Thee, Lord,
Blast their hopes,
Blight their lives,
Protract their bitter pilgrimage,
Make heavy their steps,
Water their way with their tears,
Stain the white snow with the blood
Of their wounded feet!
We ask it in the spirit of love –
Of Him who is the source of love,
And Who is the ever-faithful
Refuge and Friend of all that are sore beset And seek His aid with humble
and contrite hearts.
MARK TWAIN began his career writing light, humorous verse, but he became a chronicler of the vanities, hypocrisies, and murderous acts of mankind. At mid-career, he combined rich humor, sturdy narrative, and social criticism in Huckleberry Finn. He was a master of rendering colloquial speech and helped to create and popularize a distinctive American literature built on American themes and language. Many of his works have been suppressed at times for various reasons. A complete bibliography of Twain’s works is nearly impossible to compile because of the vast number of pieces he wrote (often in obscure newspapers) and his use of several different pen names. Additionally, a large portion of his speeches and lectures have been lost or were not recorded; thus, the compilation of Twain’s works is an ongoing process. Researchers have rediscovered published material as recently as 1995 and 2015. One relatively recent discovery was by Shelley Fishkin, Joseph S. Atha Professor of Humanities and Professor of English at Stanford University. Fishkin rediscovered Mark Twain’s 1898 play Is He Dead? in the archives of the Mark Twain Papers at the Bancroft Library at the University of California at Berkeley. She published an edition of it in 2003 and was a producer of the play on Broadway, where it debuted in 2007, adapted by David Ives and directed by Michael Blakemore.
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