Charity thou art a lie,
A toy of women,
A pleasure of certain men.
In the presence of justice,
Lo, the walls of the temple
Are visible
Through thy form of sudden shadows.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Stephen Crane's poem Charity thou art a lie,


  1. Nimal says:

    Perhaps Stephen Crane was also refering to those pompous extravagant fund raising events or charity do’s where who wore what and who attended is far far far more important than the purported ’cause’.
    Apparently there is (or used to be) some place where the giver thanks the ‘beggar’ for accepting his/her efforts at kindness/justice – seen as one’s duty to God; the idea of being charitable with regard to God would be so bizaare!!

  2. Roddy McCalley says:

    In the light of justice the temple walls are seen–to me the flickering shadows of charity evokes the cruel inconstancy of scraps handed out by the rich, like a thanksgiving feast for the homeless. What will they eat tomorrow? But what is this temple illumined in the presence of justice? What is the fundamental truth at which the poet aimed with this poem? Or, maybe I should ask, what is it to you?

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