Manvotional: The Coming Man of the World

by Brett & Kate McKay on May 4, 2013 · 33 comments

in A Man's Life, Manvotionals


The Coming Man of the World
By: Ella Wheeler Wilcox

c. 1891

Oh, not for the great departed
Who formed our country’s laws,
And not for the bravest-hearted
Who died in freedom’s cause;
And not for some living hero,
To whom all bend the knee,
My muse shall raise her song of praise,
But for the Man to be.

For out of the strife which women
Are passing through today,
A man that is more than human
Shall surely be born, I say;
A man in whose pure spirit
No dross of self will lurk,
A man who is strong to cope with wrong,
A Man who is proud to work.

A man with hope undaunted,
A man with God-like power,
Shall come when he is wanted,
Shall come at the needed hour.
He shall silence the din and clamor
Of clan disputing clan,
And toil’s long fight with purse-proud might
Shall triumph through this Man.

I know he is coming, coming,
To help, to guide, to save.
Though I hear no martial drumming
And see no flags that wave.
But the great soul-travail of woman,
And the bold, free thought unfurled,
And heralds that say he is on the way,
The coming Man of the world.

Mourn not for the vanished ages
With their grand, heroic men,
Who dwell in history’s pages
And live in the poet’s pen.
For the grandest times are before us,
And the world is yet to see
The noblest work of this old earth
In the Men that are to be.

{ 33 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ravikant Pothukuchi May 4, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Its poems like these that inspire you to do good and think about humanity.

2 Thom V May 5, 2013 at 1:16 am

Really nice words. Very motivational.

3 Hal Brown May 5, 2013 at 4:27 am

A reaffirmation in the inherent goodness of man is refreshing to see. It is especially relevant and inspiring in these days with so much division and hate.
I’m going to keep this, along with “If” (by Kipling) for my grandson.
Thank you for posting it.

4 Phareke May 5, 2013 at 11:33 am

Absolutely!! We are living in those times. We are birthing those men in these days and we are birthing the young women that will help guide these men out of the pressures of the manbox.

5 Matthew Watson May 5, 2013 at 2:17 pm

And to think, the men born around the time of that poem were the ones who fought WWI.

6 chris May 5, 2013 at 2:23 pm

This kind of work has to be read aloud to feel the true meaning of the words.

7 Sasha May 5, 2013 at 3:29 pm


8 james May 5, 2013 at 4:12 pm

man is not inherently good

9 Tate May 6, 2013 at 12:06 am

At first I thought this poem was talking about the second coming of Christ, but it gets confusing with the last line using the plural “men.” If it is the case that this was intended to be a secular poem, I find its ideas to be quite dangerous, especially this stanza:

“A man with hope undaunted,
A man with God-like power,
Shall come when he is wanted,
Shall come at the needed hour.
He shall silence the din and clamor
Of clan disputing clan,
And toil’s long fight with purse-proud might
Shall triumph through this Man.”

If people are looking for a man with “God-like” power in a time of desperation, then they are also likely to be willing to trade their freedoms for promised security. These are the best conditions for a tyrant to come to power.

10 Sahaj May 6, 2013 at 12:17 am

man is inherently good

11 Jon May 6, 2013 at 3:28 am

This poem is definitely motivational and true.

12 ithaca May 6, 2013 at 7:50 am

I agree with James. Anyone who believes they can find today a man (or woman) who is inherently good has been deceived.

13 Splyth May 6, 2013 at 8:33 am

Who cares what we inherently are? You are the master of your own destiny. You decide how you live your life.

So sit down and shut up about the inherent properties of man. If you judge all men by your own paltry experience then you are doing all men a disservice. Judge us as individuals. Give us credit when it’s due and shame us when we deserve; but do not foist the actions of a few men (either good or ill) on all of us.

14 Richard Williams May 6, 2013 at 9:17 am

Man is inherently evil, which is why the Founders sought to bind them with the chains of the Constitution.

15 Chad May 6, 2013 at 9:55 am

It is you who has been deceived ithaca, james. . Goodness and virtue are abound, it is the entrenchment of corrupted influences that are inherent in our current “society” that turn good men (and women) astray.

16 Serafin May 6, 2013 at 10:03 am

“…And toil’s long fight with purse-proud might…”

A shot at the “Robber Barons”… a part of history that has been reexamined and mostly debunked.

17 Jimbo May 6, 2013 at 10:09 am

Our souls are inherently good, but our bodies and minds are weak. The daily challenge is to reject thoughts governed by feelings engendered by our evolutionary construct… which can be very persuasive, men

18 Aves Incindia May 6, 2013 at 10:35 am

Here’s an analysis of the poem itself:
First off, its a pro-sufferage piece written for the women’s rights movements of the time (see first two lines, stanza two, plus miscellaneous references throughout).
More than that, the Man in this poem is going to better the world by ending “toil’s long fight with purse-proud might”, which is probably a reference to the conflicts between laborers and farmers and banks and industries of the time. This is the age of Rockefeller and Carnegie, when unions were genuinely needed to protect workers from trusts and monopolies. Also, this is a period of anger over monetary policy. The big debate was between a gold standard (deflationary, favoring banks and companies) versus silver standard (inflationary, favoring workers and farmers who were in debt).

Taken all together, the author of this piece knows and acknowledges that humanity is far from perfect. But she believes that we can get better. Men are neither good nor perfect, but the evils of the world can be minimized by adhering to moral uprightness and essentially Judeo-Christian values of work and integrity.

19 Aves Incindia May 6, 2013 at 11:04 am

@Chad: Since society is the sum of individuals, it is impossible for “society” to have any influence not already present or created by the people present in it. What this means is that within a given culture, there is potential for both good and evil, depending on how its individual citizens choose to act. This isn’t too say that one person can’t change or impact another in his country or neighborhood, but that men and women can choose to act in either manner.

@Jimbo: I’m curious to know how an “evolutionary construct” will create souls. Its quite possible I’m misunderstanding what you mean. I assume you’re talking about macro-evolution?
On the presumption that I do understand you, can you explain how “goodness” and “virtue” are defined in an evolutionary model? Or why emotions are worthy of rejection? Is anger at the rape of an innocent women to be ignored?

20 Jacob C May 6, 2013 at 11:19 am

I don’t see the reference to suffrage here. The poet is simply saying not to look to the popular heroes of the past anymore but to look forward to new heroes. If anything, the poem reinforces the idea that women do not need the vote as their most important role is giving birth to, and rearing men who will shape history. A popular idea at the time.

I do see the robber baron reference. I disagree with a comment above that the idea of robber barons has been “debunked.” I’ve read compelling arguments on both sides. Just depends on your perspective. The important thing is that the poet perceived it this way when she wrote the poem. You can’t later revise that feeling.

Personally, I think poems are living things. You can analyze them for the poet’s original intent. But you can also simply enjoy them for what they mean 100 years later in a new time. For me this poem is a herald of hope that despite our current troubles, at any time, great men can be born that will turn things around. I like that voice of optimism. But then I do believe men are inherently good….

21 Martin May 6, 2013 at 12:07 pm

Ithaca, man is born inherently good… it is his later interaction with culture and his heritage and his decisions that make him a good or bad man.

22 John May 6, 2013 at 4:00 pm

I’ll look to Christ, not Nietzsche’s Übermensch. The art of manliness is the art of sacrifice, not superiority.

23 Moss May 6, 2013 at 5:20 pm

Well said, John.

24 Ara Bedrossian May 7, 2013 at 8:10 am

Inspiring poem.
In order to sacrifice, you must develop something of worth to sacrifice, eh? And the more worth you get, the more impact you can have.
Cheers to doing something important, making a difference, and sharing it with the world.

25 Ali May 7, 2013 at 12:47 pm

What a great poem! Truly inspiring! Well said!

26 Brian V May 8, 2013 at 9:19 am

Man is inherently neutral unless you can observe a man uninfluenced by others of his kind. To say that he is inherently good or inherently evil is nothing but human arrogance and folly. A man is what a man is, which is to say that there exists no accurate blanket statement that applies to all men equally.

27 Paul D May 8, 2013 at 11:39 am

It is a hopeful, optimistic piece Better days to come. Move on.

28 Sman May 10, 2013 at 9:50 pm

For anyone who thinks man is inherently good/born good, do you have children? We just had our second. My experiences as a father have made a couple of things abundantly clear to me. First, conception and birth of a children truly are miracles of a sovereign Creator. I love both of my children dearly and am amazed by them. Second, the evil that I passed on to them, that they harbored from the time they were conceived, is undeniable. Evil manifests itself in children in ways that anyone would be hard pressed to attribute to influences from culture or any other physical thing outside of their bodies. Evil is in our DNA.

29 Matt J May 13, 2013 at 12:06 pm

Sman is absolutely correct. We (Christians) believe in the inherent sinfulness of man, and YET… we are imago dei… made in the image of our perfect Creator. Man can shine brightly from time to time, there’s no doubt about it… and the reason why we perceive the brightness is because we live in a world that is mostly dark. Yet, we are not without hope…

30 Rufus May 14, 2013 at 1:42 pm

Three things I want to say: First the third stanza does contain socialist ideology, and does not celebrate the empowerment of the individual.
Second, who can claim to have accomplished grander things than the founding fathers, to whom we are grateful for everything we possess today? The coming man is he who ensures the timeless principles already defined by past heroes and past works.
Third, I realize that the author probably just wanted to insert a dose of optimism into society which is understandable. For that I praise him.

31 Ben May 14, 2013 at 5:00 pm

Sounds like he’s prophesying about Superman.

32 Brian May 23, 2013 at 6:41 pm

Wow. I didn’t really expect much when I clicked the link – wasn’t really in a poetry mood – but this is good.

“For the grandest times are before us,
And the world is yet to see
The noblest work of this old earth
In the Men that are to be.”

Will I rise to this virtuous challenge?

33 Andrew May 24, 2013 at 10:44 am

Inspiring! A reminder of man’s need to look on to a power beyond themselves, something that overpasses us. The need to anticipate the future and everything pure and genuine that this may promise – or condemn; for this poem may teach us that hope is not the last to survive, but the first to be sought by every man in despair.

Hope — a nuance of the insidious power that can be revealed, indeed, by man in a world of obstacles and of temptations.

And what more beneficial thought can one seek than that of Hope amidst despair and destruction?

“My muse shall raise her song of praise,
But for the Man to be.”

Brett and Kate, thank you for the great series of articles which we have the pleasure to read
- and offer a nuance of escapism in our daily routines.

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