Summary and Analysis
Born in 1850, Ella Wheeler Wilcox was an American poet and writer best known for her 1883 book, Poems of Passion, which includes her famous poem “Solitude.” Wilcox’s poetry often includes rhyming verse centered around love, life, and death.
Her poem “Protest,” published in 1914, deviates from her usual poetic style and highlights Wilcox’s passions as a feminist and activist. “Protest” delves into issues of free speech and suggests that wealth inequality is at the root of unjust treatment and suffering. The theme of that poem claims that only way to gain true liberty for all is to protest and fight for one’s freedom.
“Protest” relies on free verse and careful word choice. It is comprised of two stanzas. The first stanza consists of fifteen lines; the second, eleven. The poem is in iambic pentameter throughout and uses internal rhyme. “Protest” poses a convincing argument for the usefulness and goodness of free speech.
The First Stanza
Lines one and two of stanza one begin with a powerful assertion: “To sin by silence, when we should protest / Makes cowards out of men.” In these lines, the speaker argues against a lack of protest, claiming that being silent is a cowardly act.
(The entire section is 1,279 words.)