The Man with the Hoe

by Edwin Markham

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How does the society treat people like the man with the hoe?

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Society treats the man with the hoe and others like him very badly indeed, turning him into a "slave of the wheel of labor."

The ordinary worker has been reduced by the demands of society and his alleged social betters into little more than a slave whose constant toil is back-breaking and soul-destroying in fairly equal measure.

As a result, the common working man has no spare time with which to contemplate the thought of great philosophers like Plato or the wonders of the natural world as epitomized by "the swing of Pleiades". Instead, all he does, all he can ever do, is work, work, work.

For the speaker, there is something fundamentally unjust about all of this. He chides the "masters, lords, and rulers in all lands" for turning those who work for them, no less than themselves the creation of God, into shapeless drudges, monstrous things "distorted and soul-quenched." This is not how it was supposed to be; this is a distortion of the natural order of things as created by God.

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