Shelley poems about war


This video is about Percy Bysshe Shelley – his poem The Mask of Anarchy.

The Stop NATO blog in the USA has a section Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts.

In it, there is a link to a poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley about war (certainly not Shelley’s only poem on this).

And an excerpt from Shelley’s 1813 poem, Queen Mab, about war:

There an inhuman and uncultured race
Howled hideous praises to their Demon-God;
They rushed to war, tore from the mother’s womb
The unborn child – old age and infancy
Promiscuous perished; their victorious arms
Left not a soul to breathe. Oh! they were fiends!
But what was he who taught them that the God
Of Nature and benevolence had given
A special sanction to the trade of blood
?
His name and theirs are fading, and the tales
Of this barbarian nation, which imposture
Recites till terror credits, are pursuing
Itself into forgetfulness.

Whence, thinkest thou, kings and parasites arose?
Whence that unnatural line of drones who heap
Toil and unvanquishable penury
On those who build their palaces and bring
Their daily bread? – From vice, black loathsome vice;
From rapine, madness, treachery, and wrong;
From all that genders misery, and makes
Of earth this thorny wilderness; from lust,
Revenge, and murder. – And when reason’s voice,
Loud as the voice of Nature, shall have waked
The nations; and mankind perceive that vice
Is discord, war and misery; that virtue
Is peace and happiness and harmony;
When man’s maturer nature shall disdain
The playthings of its childhood; – kingly glare
Will lose its power to dazzle
, its authority
Will silently pass by; the gorgeous throne
Shall stand unnoticed in the regal hall,
Fast falling to decay; whilst falsehood’s trade
Shall be as hateful and unprofitable
As that of truth is now.

Where is the fame
Which the vain-glorious mighty of the earth
Seek to eternize? Oh! the faintest sound
From time’s light footfall, the minutest wave
That swells the flood of ages, whelms in nothing
The unsubstantial bubble. Ay! to-day
Stern is the tyrant’s mandate, red the gaze
That flashes desolation, strong the arm
That scatters multitudes. To-morrow comes!
That mandate is a thunder-peal that died
In ages past; that gaze, a transient flash
On which the midnight closed; and on that arm
The worm has made his meal.

Look on yonder earth:
The golden harvests spring; the unfailing sun
Sheds light and life; the fruits, the flowers, the trees,
Arise in due succession; all things speak
Peace, harmony and love. The universe,
In Nature’s silent eloquence, declares
That all fulfil the works of love and joy, -
All but the outcast, Man. He fabricates
The sword which stabs his peace
; he cherisheth
The snakes that gnaw his heart; he raiseth up
The tyrant whose delight is in his woe,
Whose sport is in his agony.

Now swells the intermingling din; the jar
Frequent and frightful of the bursting bomb;
The falling beam, the shriek, the groan, the shout,
The ceaseless clangor, and the rush of men
Inebriate with rage: – loud and more loud
The discord grows; till pale Death shuts the scene
And o’er the conqueror and the conquered draws
His cold and bloody shroud. – Of all the men
Whom day’s departing beam saw blooming there
In proud and vigorous health; of all the hearts
That beat with anxious life at sunset there;
How few survive, how few are beating now!
All is deep silence, like the fearful calm
That slumbers in the storm’s portentous pause;
Save when the frantic wail of widowed love
Comes shuddering on the blast, or the faint moan
With which some soul bursts from the frame of clay
Wrapt round its struggling powers.

The gray morn
Dawns on the mournful scene; the sulphurous smoke
Before the icy wind slow rolls away,
And the bright beams of frosty morning dance
Along the spangling snow. There tracks of blood
Even to the forest’s depth, and scattered arms,
And lifeless warriors, whose hard lineaments
Death’s self could change not, mark the dreadful path
Of the outsallying victors; far behind
Black ashes note where their proud city stood.
Within yon forest is a gloomy glen -
Each tree which guards its darkness from the day,
Waves o’er a warrior’s tomb.

From kings and priests and statesmen war arose,
Whose safety is man’s deep unbettered woe,
Whose grandeur his debasement. Let the axe
Strike at the root, the poison-tree will fall;
And where its venomed exhalations spread
Ruin, and death, and woe, where millions lay
Quenching the serpent’s famine, and their bones
Bleaching unburied in the putrid blast,
A garden shall arise, in loveliness
Surpassing fabled Eden.

Felicity Arbuthnot comments on this blog post:

David Cameron should be made to read this at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Day, 11.11.2012, as Obama and leaders across all Western countries taking part in their murderous, illegal assassinations, slaughters and ram raids. Thank you.

Reaction from Richard Rozoff to this comment:

Splendid idea.

School children in Britain, here in the U.S. and throughout the English-speaking world are given poems of Shelley’s like “Ode to the West Wind” (without having its true purport explained) or “Adonais” to read while passing over completely his major works like “Queen Mab,” “The Cenci,” “The Revolt of Islam,” “Hellas” and “Prometheus Unbound” as unfit for, politically speaking, virginibus puerisque.

Mary Shelley on stage


This video from Britain is called Mary Shelley Biography.

By Barbara Slaughter in Britain:

Mary Shelley—A new play about her remarkable life and times

13 June 2012

Mary Shelley, a new play by Helen Edmundson, opened in Leeds on March 16 and, after a national tour, is now running at the Tricycle Theatre in London until July 7. It is a joint production of Shared Experience, Nottingham Playhouse and West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Edmundson’s play is based on the relationship between the remarkable Mary Shelley, future author of Frankenstein and wife of poet Percy Shelley, and her father, radical journalist and philosopher William Godwin, between 1813 and 1816.

The play opens with 16-year-old Mary dreaming about an attempted suicide by her late mother, Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797), the advocate of women’s rights and defender of the French Revolution. The young Mary is traveling by sea from Scotland back to her home in London and has recently read Godwin’s biography of her mother, published in 1798. Profoundly moved by the candid and revealing book, Mary is inspired to live as her mother did.

Wollstonecraft died of puerperal fever, 11 days after Mary was born. Overcome with grief, Godwin began writing Memoirs of the Author of a Vindication of the Rights of Woman only two weeks later. This was a heartfelt account of Wollstonecraft’s astonishing life, written by a man who loved her and appreciated her unique qualities as a writer and a revolutionary.

He was criticised mercilessly by the reactionary press, and middle class public opinion was “scandalised”. In the end, Godwin felt obliged to compromise and published a sanitised version of the memoir, with all mention of her love affairs, attempted suicides and illegitimate daughter removed.

Godwin educated Mary and her stepsister Fanny Islay as their mother would have wanted, to fight for political justice and social change and to face the world and its travails with fortitude and honesty.

See also here.

Blair, Lord Liverpool, Castlereagh, and Shelley


From the Google cache:

Blair, Lord Liverpool, Castlereagh, and Shelley

Linking: 4 Comments: 10

Date: 8/22/05 at 1:54PM

Mood: Looking Playing: Get up, Stand up, by Bob Marley

Lord Liverpool's armed forces attack Peterloo demonstrators

From Media Lens, via Craig Murray’s blog:

[United Kingdom] “Prime Minister Liverpool equated Parliamentary Reform with treason.

At a peaceful and massive meeting – around 50-60,000 – in Manchester’s St. Peter’s Field in 1819, demanding Reform, troops attacked the assembly and killed nine men and two women, and wounded 400.

This event became known as the “Peterloo Massacre‘.

Far from reviewing the error of his resistance to reforms, Liverpool responded to Peterloo by rushing in the Six Acts.

This law forbade meetings of more than 50 people, extended the power of summary conviction by magistrates, made ‘blasphemous and seditious libel” a transportable [eg, to Australia] offence, and placed a heavy tax on newspapers.

There is a parallel today.

Blair‘s government, instinctively authoritarian as was Liverpool’s, seizes on catastrophic events, resulting from his own criminal policy, to take repressive measures and rush in laws against freedom of speech.

Lord Liverpool’s henchman and foreign secretary from 1812-1822 was Lord Castlereagh, about whom the redoubtable poet Shelley wrote after Peterloo:

I met Murder on the way
He had a mask like Castlereagh
.

His come-uppance was a bitter one. Deranged by power, Castlereagh suicided in 1822.

Chroniclers record that on the news the Capital’s “mob” celebrated in the streets, and at his funeral cheered.

Something perhaps for Blair and his henchmen to ponder?”

Blair, cartoon by Martin Rowson

Battle of Trafalgar: here.

Lord Byron: here.