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“The Man With the Hoe” has two audiences, and throughout the poem poet Edwin Markham shifts smoothly from one to the other.
The first audience is anyone, or more specifically, anyone who is walking through the museum where the painting hangs. You might imagine an informed viewer or a professional museum scholar guiding you want to look at in the painting.
The second audience is much more specific and political. Markham explicitly indicates this audience near the end of the poem in this line: “O masters, lords and rulers in all lands…” The poem is addressing the political leaders of the world. Markham is prompting at least reflection and political awareness through this poem, and perhaps political change. He comes close to threatening these leaders with violence as the future—or this voiceless worker—judges them for how they have treated the workers of the world.
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