1980s >> 1982 >> no-929-january-1982

Letter: Shelley

Dear Editors

With regard to your review of Paul Foot’s Red Shelley in the October Socialist Standard, you omitted to point out that Queen Mab does contain some magnificent attacks on buying and selling (which Foot ignores, logically enough for a supporter of the SWP which does not realise that these are incompatible with socialism).

Hence commerce springs, the venal interchange
Of all that human art or nature yield;
Which wealth should purchase not, but want demand
And natural kindness hasten to supply
From the full fountain of its boundless love,
For ever stifled, drained and tainted now
(V. II, 38-43).

All things are sold: the very light of Heaven
Is venal; earth’s unsparing gifts of love,
The smallest and most despicable things
That lurk in the abysses of the deep,
All objects of our life, even life itself,
And the poor pittance which the laws allow
Of liberty, the fellowship of man.
Those duties which his heart of human love
Should urge him to perform instinctively,
Are bought and sold as in a public mart
Of undisguising selfishness, that sets
On each its price, the stamp mark of her reign
(V. II, 177-188)

A brighter, morn awaits the human day
When every transfer of earth’s natural gifts
Shall be a commerce of good words and works;
When poverty and wealth, the thirst of fame,
The fear of infamy, disease and woe.
War with its million horrors, and fierce hell
Shall live but in the memory of Time,
Who, like a penitent libertine, shall start.
Look back, and shudder at his younger years
(V. II, 177-188).

Adam Buick,