The Masque of Anarchy
POETRY FORMAT, 28 Aug 2017
Shelley wrote his poem in response to the Peterloo Massacre, which took place in Manchester on 16 August 1819. Cavalry soldiers of the government charged a crowd of 50,000 citizens who were peacefully assembled to ask for better representation in Parliament. This poem advocating non-violent resistance to tyranny was an inspiration to Thoreau, Tolstoy and Gandhi.
“Stand ye calm and resolute,
Like a forest close and mute,
With folded arms and looks which are
Weapons of unvanquished war.
“And if then the tyrants dare,
Let them ride among you there;
Slash, and stab, and maim and hew;
What they like, that let them do.
“With folded arms and steady eyes,
And little fear, and less surprise,
Look upon them as they slay,
Till their rage has died away:
“Then they will return with shame,
To the place from which they came,
And the blood thus shed will speak
In hot blushes on their cheek:
“Rise, like lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number!
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you:
Ye are many, they are few!”
Percy Bysshe Shelley was one of the major English Romantic poets, and is regarded by some as among the finest lyric, as well as most influential, poets in the English language. Wikipedia
This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 28 Aug 2017.
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