'Equality' by John McCrae

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I saw a King, who spent his life to weave
Into a nation all his great heart thought,
Unsatisfied until he should achieve
The grand ideal that his manhood sought;
Yet as he saw the end within his reach,
Death took the sceptre from his failing hand,
And all men said, "He gave his life to teach
The task of honour to a sordid land!"
Within his gates I saw, through all those years,
One at his humble toil with cheery face,
Whom (being dead) the children, half in tears,
Remembered oft, and missed him from his place.
If he be greater that his people blessed
Than he the children loved, God knoweth best.

Editor 1 Interpretation

John McCrae's Poetry, Equality: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation

John McCrae's "Poetry, Equality" is a short, thought-provoking poem that explores the power of poetry and its ability to unite people from different backgrounds. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will delve deeper into the poem's themes and symbolism, analyze its structure and language, and explore its historical context and relevance today.

Themes and Symbolism

The main theme of "Poetry, Equality" is the idea that poetry can bring people together and unite them despite their differences. This theme is conveyed through the use of powerful symbolism, such as the "ocean's roll" and the "roar of the surf." These symbols represent the vastness and power of the natural world, and how poetry has the ability to harness this power and use it to connect people.

The poem also explores the idea that poetry is universal and transcends language and cultural barriers. This is conveyed through the use of the metaphor of the "mighty army of words" marching together. This metaphor suggests that words are like soldiers, marching together in unison towards a common goal. This goal is not just the creation of beautiful poetry, but the promotion of equality and unity among people.

Another important theme in the poem is the idea that poetry is a powerful force for change. This theme is conveyed through the use of imagery, such as the "lightning's flash" and the "thunder's crash." These images suggest that poetry can be a catalyst for change, bringing about sudden and dramatic transformations in society.

Structure and Language

The structure of "Poetry, Equality" is simple and straightforward. It consists of four stanzas, each with two lines. The use of short, concise lines and stanzas gives the poem a sense of urgency and power, and helps to reinforce its themes of unity and equality.

The language of the poem is also simple and direct, but it is also highly evocative and powerful. The use of vivid imagery and symbolism helps to create a sense of drama and excitement, while the repetition of key phrases such as "mighty army of words" and "poetry is a sword" helps to reinforce the poem's central message.

Historical Context and Relevance Today

"Poetry, Equality" was written by John McCrae in 1918, during the final days of World War I. At this time, the world was undergoing tremendous social and political changes, and the poem reflects the desire of many people to create a more just and equal society.

Today, "Poetry, Equality" remains a powerful reminder of the importance of poetry and the arts in promoting social justice and equality. In a world that is still plagued by inequality and intolerance, the poem serves as a call to arms, urging us to use our words to fight for a better world.


In conclusion, John McCrae's "Poetry, Equality" is a powerful and evocative poem that explores the themes of unity, equality, and the power of poetry. Through its use of vivid imagery and powerful symbolism, the poem reminds us of the importance of words and the arts in promoting social justice and change. As we continue to confront the many challenges facing our world today, the poem serves as a powerful reminder of the enduring power of poetry to connect and inspire us all.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry is a powerful tool that has been used throughout history to express emotions, convey messages, and inspire change. One such poem that has stood the test of time is "Equality" by John McCrae. This classic poem, written in 1918, is a poignant commentary on the nature of equality and the struggle for justice.

At its core, "Equality" is a call to action. It challenges readers to examine their own beliefs and biases and to work towards a more just and equitable society. The poem begins with a powerful statement: "What do I care for your suffering and strife, / Your path through this sad little life?" This opening line sets the tone for the rest of the poem, which is a passionate plea for empathy and understanding.

Throughout the poem, McCrae uses vivid imagery and powerful language to convey his message. He describes the struggles of the poor and marginalized, painting a picture of a world in which inequality is the norm. He writes, "You who have never known want or distress, / You who have never felt hunger's caress, / Look down in pity from your high place, / And thank your God for His grace."

These lines are a stark reminder that not everyone is born into privilege, and that many people struggle to make ends meet on a daily basis. McCrae is urging readers to recognize this fact and to take action to help those who are less fortunate.

The poem also touches on the issue of race, which was a contentious topic in the early 20th century. McCrae writes, "Black and white, they are equal in death; / The slave and the master lie side by side." This line is a powerful statement on the nature of equality, and a reminder that all people are equal in the eyes of death.

McCrae's use of language is particularly effective in this poem. He employs a variety of poetic devices, including alliteration, repetition, and rhyme, to create a sense of urgency and passion. For example, he writes, "The rich man's son inherits cares and woes, / The poor man's son is eased as the long life flows." This use of rhyme and repetition creates a sense of rhythm and momentum, driving the poem forward and emphasizing its message.

One of the most striking aspects of "Equality" is its relevance to contemporary issues. Despite being written over a century ago, the poem's message is still as relevant today as it was then. In a world where inequality and injustice continue to be major issues, McCrae's call to action is more important than ever.

In conclusion, "Equality" is a powerful and timeless poem that speaks to the heart of the human experience. It is a passionate plea for empathy, understanding, and action, and a reminder that we all have a role to play in creating a more just and equitable society. McCrae's use of language and imagery is masterful, and his message is as relevant today as it was when the poem was first written. As we continue to grapple with issues of inequality and injustice, "Equality" serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of empathy, compassion, and action.

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