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Poetry

Prophetic Lines Addressed to the Worker From the Labour Government

Sweet Content

    Art thou poor, yet hast thou golden slumbers?
         O sweet content!
    Art thou rich, yet is thy mind perplex’d?
        O punishment!
    Dost thou laugh to see how fools are vex’d
    To add to golden numbers golden numbers?
        O sweet content! O sweet, O sweet content!
    Work apace, apace, apace, apace;
    Honest labour bears a lovely face;
    Then hey nonny nonny—hey nonny nonny!
    Canst thou drink the waters of the crisped spring?
        O sweet content!
    Swim’st thou in wealth yet sink’st in thine own tears?
        O punishment!

Shelley: In His Way, One Of Us


 Innumerable days of my life I wish to forget; three days I will always remember with joy. On one of those latter days I read The Communist Manifesto for the first time. On another of the days I saw some of Van Gogh's pictures at the first exhibition in this country of the work of the post-impressionists of France. On the third, and almost the last, of my joy-days my father gave me a book, "The Poems of Percy Bysshe Shelley."

 Shelley is the poet I care for beyond all other poets. He dreamed, loved, wept, and sang; he helped his friends and those who were not his friends — he gave heaps of money away — he went his own way— none could tie him down — he was a wild yet gentle man, and his immortal “sweetest songs are those which tell of saddest  thought.”    

Take Up The Sword

     War ! Well, let it be War,
       While an enemy stands in the way of what we desire!
        Only the strong may aspire
     To life in a land where the sword is the giver of law.
     Then burn! O heart, burn ! with the fire
    Of unquenchable hatred and ire,
    And tear with a maddened talon and claw
    And win or defeated expire.  

    Lo, they have taken the earth.
       They have chained us to labour and heaped
                    us with sorrow and pain ;
        Have wrung out our blood to their gain.

Poem: The People

 (Written in 1600)

    "The people is a beast of muddy brain,
    That knows not its own strength and therefore stands
    Loaded with wood and iron. The powerless hands
    Of a mere child guide it with bit and rein;
    One kick would be enough to break the chain.
    But the beast fears, and what the child demands
    It does, nor its own terror understands
    Confused and stupefied by bugbears vain.
    Most wonderful! With its own hands
    It ties the gags itself, gives itself life and war,
    For pence doled out by kings from its own store.
    Its own are all things between earth and heaven;
    But this it knows not, and if one arise
    To tell this truth, it kills him unforgiven.”

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