Shelley’s newly discovered pro-peace poem

This video from England says about itself:

Poetical Essay: Shelley back from the dead

10 November 2015

In November 2015 the Bodleian Libraries acquired its 12 millionth printed book: a unique copy of a pamphlet entitled Poetical Essay on the Existing State of Things, written by ‘a Gentleman of the University of Oxford’ and printed in 1811. The pamphlet was the work of Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822), then a student at Oxford University, and now recognised as one of the great English poets of the 19th century. The acquisition is a momentous event for the public, for scholars, the University and the Bodleian Libraries. Known to have been published by Shelley in 1811 but lost until recently, Shelley’s Poetical Essay is, thanks to the generosity of a benefactor, now freely available to all in digitized form at

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Poetical Essay on the Existing State of Things

Thursday 26th November 2015

This rediscovered poem by PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY (1792-1822), now on view at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, is an acute commentary on war and colonial oppression which demonstrates his significance for Karl Marx and the Chartist movement and why he is an inspiration for a new generation of poets today

DESTRUCTION marks thee! o’er the blood-stain’d heath
Is faintly borne the stifled wail of death;
Millions to fight compell’d, to fight or die
In mangled heaps on War’s red altar lie.
The sternly wise, the mildly good, have sped
To the unfruitful mansions of the dead
Whilst fell Ambition o’er the wasted plain
Triumphant guides his car—the ensanguin’d rein
Glory directs; fierce brooding o’er the scene,
With hatred glance, with dire unbending mien,
Fell Despotism sits by the red glare
Of Discord’s torch, kindling the flames of war.
For thee then does the Muse her sweetest lay
Pour ’mid the shrieks of war, ’mid dire dismay;
For thee does Fame’s obstrep’rous clarion rise,
Does Praise’s voice raise meanness to the skies.
Are we then sunk so deep in darkest gloom,
That selfish pride can virtue’s garb assume?
Does real greatness in false splendour live?
When narrow views the futile mind deceive,
When thirst of wealth, or frantic rage for fame,
Lights for awhile self-interest’s little flame,
When legal murders swell the lists of pride;
When glory’s views the titled idiot guide,
Then will oppression’s iron influence show
The great man’s comfort as the poor man’s woe.
Is’t not enough that splendour’s useless glare,
Real grandeur’s bane, must mock the poor man’s stare;
Is’t not enough that luxury’s varied power
Must cheat the rich parader’s irksome hour,
While what they want not, what they yet retain,
Adds tenfold grief, more anguished throbs of pain
To each unnumbered, unrecorded woe,
Which bids the bitterest tear of want to flow;
But that the comfort, which despotic sway
Has yet allowed, stern War must tear away.

Ye cold advisers of yet colder kings,
To whose fell breast no passion virtue brings,
Who scheme, regardless of the poor man’s pang,
Who coolly sharpen misery’s sharpest fang,
Yourselves secure. Yours is the power to breathe
O’er all the world the infectious blast of death,
To snatch at fame, to reap red murder’s spoil,
Receive the injured with a courtier’s smile,
Make a tired nation bless the oppressor’s name,
And for injustice snatch the meed of fame.
Were fetters made for anguish, for despair?
Must starving wretches torment, misery bear?
Who, mad with grief, have snatched from grandeur’s store,
What grandeur’s hand had snatched from them before.
Yet shall the vices of the great pass on,
Vices as glaring as the noon-day sun,
Shall rank corruption pass unheeded by,
Shall flattery’s voice ascend the wearied sky;
And shall no patriot tear the veil away
Which hides these vices from the face of day?
Is public virtue dead?—is courage gone?
Bows its fair form at fell oppression’s throne?
Yes! it’s torn away—the crimes appear,
Expiring Freedom asks a parting tear,
A powerful hand unrolls the guilt-stain’d veil,
A powerful voice floats on the tainted gale,
Rising corruption’s error from beneath,
A shape of glory checks the course of death;
It spreads its shield o’er freedom’s prostrate form,
Its glance disperses envy’s gathering storm;
No trophied bust need tell thy sainted name,
No herald blazon to the world thy fame,
Nor scrolls essay an endless meed to give;
In grateful memory still thy deeds must live.
No sculptured marble shall be raised to thee,
The hearts of England will thy memoirs be.
To thee the Muse attunes no venal lyre,
No thirsts of gold the vocal lays inspire;
No interests plead, no fiery passions swell;
Whilst to thy praise she wakes her feeble shell,
She need not speak it, for the pen of fame
On every heart has written BURDETT’S name;
For thou art he, who dared in tumult’s hour,
Dauntless thy tide of eloquence to pour;
Who, fearless, stemmed stern Despotism’s source,
Who traced Oppression to its foulest course;
Who bade Ambition tremble on its throne—
How could I virtue name, how yet pass on
Thy name!—though fruitless thy divine essay,
Though vain thy war against fell power’s array,
Thou taintless emanation from the sky!
Thou purest spark of fires which never die!

Yet let me pause, yet turn aside to weep
Where virtue, genius, wit, with Franklin sleep;
To bend in mute affliction o’er the grave
Where lies the great, the virtuous, and the brave;
Still let us hope in Heaven (for Heaven there is)
That sainted spirit tastes ethereal bliss,
That sainted spirit the reward receives,
Which endless goodness to its votary gives.
Thine be the meed to purest virtue due—
Alas! the prospect closes to the view.
Visions of horror croud upon my sight,
They shed around their forms substantial night.
Oppressors’ venal minions! hence, avaunt!
Think not the soul of Patriotism to daunt;
Though hot with gore from India’s wasted plains,
Some Chief, in triumph, guides the tightened reins;
Though disembodied from this mortal coil,
Pitt lends to each smooth rogue a courtier’s smile;
Yet does not that severer frown withhold,
Which, though impervious to the power of gold,
Could daunt the injured wretch, could turn the poor
Unheard, unnoticed, from the statesman’s door
This is the spirit which can reckless tell
The fatal trump of useless war to swell;
Can bid Fame’s loudest voice awake his praise,
Can boldly snatch the honorary bays.
Gifts to reward a ruthless, murderous deed,
A crime for which some poorer rogue must bleed.
Is this then justice?—stretch thy powerful arm,
Patriot, dissolve the frigorific charm,
Awake thy loudest thunder, dash the brand
Of stern Oppression from the Tyrant’s hand;
Let reason mount the Despot’s mouldering throne,
And bid an injured nation cease to moan.
Why then, since justice petty crimes can thrall,
Should not its power extend to each, to all?
If he who murders one to death is due,
Should not the great destroyer perish too?
The wretch beneath whose influence millions bleed?
And yet encomium is the villain’s meed.
His crime the smooth-tongued flatterers conquest name,
Loud in his praises swell the notes of Fame.
Oblivion marks the murdering poor man’s tomb,
Brood o’er his memory contempt and gloom;
His crimes are blazoned in deformed array,
His virtues sink, they fade for aye away.
Snatch then the sword from nerveless virtue’s hand,
Boldly grasp native jurisdiction’s brand;
For justice, poisoned at its source, must yield
The power to each its shivered sword to wield,
To dash oppression from the throne of vice,
To nip the buds of slavery as they rise.
Does jurisprudence slighter crimes restrain,
And seek their vices to controul in vain?
Kings are but men, if thirst of meanest sway
Has not that title even snatched away.—
The fainting Indian, on his native plains,
Writhes to superior power’s unnumbered pains;
The Asian, in the blushing face of day,
His wife, his child, sees sternly torn away;
Yet dares not to revenge, while war’s dread roar
Floats, in long echoing, on the blood-stain’d shore.
In Europe too wild ruin rushes fast:
See! like a meteor on the midnight blast,
Or evil spirit brooding over gore,
Napoleon calm can war, can misery pour.
May curses blast thee; and in thee the breed
Which forces, which compels, a world to bleed;
May that destruction, which ’tis thine to spread,
Descend with ten-fold fury on thy head.
Oh! may the death, which marks thy fell career,
In thine own heart’s blood bathe the empoisoned spear;
May long remorse protract thy latest groan,
Then shall Oppression tremble on its throne.
Yet this alone were vain; Freedom requires
A torch more bright to light its fading fires;
Man must assert his native rights, must say
We take from Monarchs’ hand the granted sway;
Oppressive law no more shall power retain,
Peace, love, and concord, once shall rule again,
And heal the anguish of a suffering world;
Then, then shall things, which now confusedly hurled,
Seem Chaos, be resolved to order’s sway,
And errors night be turned to virtue’s day.

See also here.

Winnie-the-Pooh’s skull on show in London

Winnie-the-Pooh’s skull

From the Royal College of Surgeons in London, England:

Real Winnie-the-Pooh’s skull displayed at the Royal College of Surgeons

20 November 2015

Winnie-the-Pooh fans will have an opportunity to see the skull of the bear that inspired the much-loved character in A.A. Milne’s stories, at the Royal College of Surgeons’ Hunterian Museum.

Milne, who wrote one of the most popular collections of children’s stories: Winnie-the-Pooh and later The House at Pooh Corner, was a regular visitor to London Zoo. His son, Christopher, named his teddy bear Winnie after a Canadian black bear who lived in the zoo. Named Winnipeg, and Winnie for short, she was the inspiration for Winnie-the-Pooh.

This video from London days about itself:

The bear who inspired Winnie-the-Pooh

18 January 2014

Ever wondered how Winnie-the-Pooh got his name? This is the story of Winnie the bear, who arrived at ZSL London Zoo a hundred years ago and who inspired AA Milne‘s iconic honey-loving character.

The RCS article continues:

Visitors to the Royal College of Surgeons’ Hunterian Museum in London will be able to see Winnie’s skull and learn more about her.

Sam Alberti, Director of Museums and Archives at the Royal College of Surgeons, said:

“Winnie-the-Pooh remains one of the most popular children’s stories ever since Pooh Bear was brought to life on the pages of A.A Milne’s book in 1926.

“Children and adults who visit the Hunterian Museum will now have an opportunity to learn about the real Winnie and how she inspired A.A. Milne.

“Her story and presence in our collection are a reminder of how learning about animal health can enhance our understanding and care for species around the world.”

Soldier and trained vet, Captain Harry Colebourn bought Winnie when she was a bear cub, and he was en route to fight in the First World War. He had enlisted to look after the cavalry units and named her Winnipeg after his home city in Manitoba, Canada.

Cpt Colebourn’s regiment travelled to Europe at the beginning of the war and he brought Winnie as their mascot while they trained on the Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire. When the regiment was deployed to fight in France in 1914, he left Winnie at London Zoo.

Winnie lived through the war and was visited by A.A. Milne and his son Christopher. Photographs from this time show that Christopher was allowed in Winnie’s enclosure at the zoo. After the war, Cpt Colebourn donated Winnie to London Zoo, where she remained a popular attraction until she died of old age in May 1934.

During a recent review of the RCS’s collections, curators identified Winnie’s skull and the story of this treasured bear. Documents show that when Winnie died at the zoo, her skull was donated to Sir James Frank Colyer (1866-1954) the then curator of the Odontological Museum, which was part of the RCS collections. A dental surgeon, he was the first to report on dental variations and diseases in bears. He analysed a number of animal skulls from the Zoological Society of London to compile his comprehensive book on dental disease in animals (Colyer 1936. Variations and diseases of the teeth of animals).

At the time, Colyer noted in Winnie’s skull the loss of teeth, thickening of the alveolar process and sockets filled with bone. He associated this with Winnie’s extremely old age and her food habits. Recent examination of the skull shows that Winnie suffered from chronic periodontitis (an inflammation and/or loss of connective tissues supporting or surrounding the teeth). Colyer’s book, and the skulls featured in it (including Winnie’s), have now become valuable research specimens for biologists and zoo vets who need to treat captive animals for dental diseases.

See also here.

Most influential academic books, according to Britons

This video is called The Genius of Charles Darwin – HD Full Length (All 3 Episodes).

There is not only a National Bird election in the Netherlands. There was also another election in Britain.

From daily The Independent in Britain today:

These five books have been named as the most influential academic texts of all time

Posted 2 hours ago by Louis Doré

The most influential academic books in history have been revealed in a public vote.

Charles Darwin‘s On the Origin of Species from 1859, which founded evolutionary biology, was named the most influential academic text ever written.

The study was voted for by 26 per cent of the public in an online poll of over 900, to mark the inaugural Academic Book Week.

The top five were:

1) On the Origin of SpeciesCharles Darwin
2) The Communist ManifestoKarl Marx and Friedrich Engels
3) The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
4) The RepublicPlato
5) Critique of Pure Reason – Immanuel Kant

Also shortlisted were:

The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir
Ways of Seeing by John Berger
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
The Meaning of Relativity by Albert Einstein
The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer
A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
The Uses of Literacy by Richard Hoggart
The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli
The Naked Ape by Desmond Morris
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine
Orientalism by Edward Said
The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
The Making of the English Working Class by EP Thompson
A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft

The poll was organised as part of a series of events and competitions throughout the UK, conducted by the Arts and Humanities Research Council in conjunction with the British Library, between 9-16 November.

New Shelley poem, against persecution of Irishman, discovered

This video from England says about itself:

Poetical Essay: a Shelley pamphlet through expert eyes

10 November 2015

In November 2015 the Bodleian Libraries acquired its 12 millionth printed book: a unique copy of a pamphlet entitled Poetical Essay on the Existing State of Things, written by ‘a Gentleman of the University of Oxford’ and printed in 1811. The pamphlet was the work of Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822), then a student at Oxford University, and now recognised as one of the great English poets of the 19th century. The acquisition is a momentous event for the public, for scholars, the University and the Bodleian Libraries. Known to have been published by Shelley in 1811 but lost until recently, Shelley’s Poetical Essay is, thanks to the generosity of a benefactor, now freely available to all in digitized form at

From the Irish Times:

Lost Shelley poem defending jailed Irish journalist unveiled

Vanessa Redgrave reads pamphlet defending former United Irishman Peter Finnerty

Fintan O’Toole

Tue, Nov 10, 2015, 18:15

A long-lost verse pamphlet by the great Romantic poet Percy Shelley, written in defence of an imprisoned Irish journalist, was unveiled on Tuesday at the Bodleian Library in Oxford. Shelley, one of the greatest English poets of the 19th century, wrote Poetical Essay on the Existing State of Things in autumn and winter 1810-11 during his first year as a student at Oxford.

It protests against Britain’s involvement in the Napoleonic war and in particular supports the Irish journalist Peter Finnerty, who was accused of libel by the government and imprisoned after criticising disastrous British military operations in Denmark.

Shelley’s 10-page poem was considered lost until 2006, when a single copy was discovered in a private collection. Only now, with the acquisition of this unique copy by the library, has the text been made public. The actress Vanessa Redgrave read it aloud at an event in Oxford on Tuesday evening.

Finnerty, whose name appears prominently on the title page, is thought to have been born in Loughrea, Co Galway, and was associated with the revolutionaries of the United Irishmen. He was imprisoned in Dublin in 1798 for seditious libel after he attacked judges who sentenced other members of the society to death. He emigrated to London, where he worked as a parliamentary reporter and was a member of the circle around the Irish playwright and politician Richard Brinsley Sheridan.

In 1809, he went to Denmark to report on British military operations. His critical reporting led to him being deported back to London. Finnerty accused the powerful secretary of state for war, Lord Castleragh, of seeking to silence him, and also of having been responsible for the torture of United Irishmen prisoners in 1798. Castlereagh sued him and Finnerty was again imprisoned.

In the newly revealed Poetical Essay, Shelley attacks Castlereagh and denounces war as a time “When legal murders swell the lists of pride;/ When glory’s views the titled idiot guide”. He praises Finnerty’s supporters and asks rhetorically: “Shall rank corruption pass unheeded by,/Shall flattery’s voice ascend the wearied sky;/And shall no patriot tear the veil away/ Which hides these vices from the face of day?”

Shelley imagines Finnerty and his supports as “a powerful hand” stripping away “the guilt-stain’d veil” of corruption.

Shelley clearly intended his poem to be part of the wider campaign to raise funds for Finnerty, which also staged large public meetings in Dublin and Belfast. Finnerty was released in 1813 and returned to work as a journalist until his death in 1822. His friend William Hazlitt wrote of him that he “loved Ireland to the last, and would overwhelm any man with a torrent of [curses] who would speak disrespectfully of the sod.”

See also here.

Homophobic pastor prefers killing ‘tens of millions’ children to letting them read Harry Potter

This video from the USA says about itself:

RWW News: Kevin Swanson Says The Bible Requires The Death Penalty For Homosexuality

Right Wing Watch reports on the extreme rhetoric and activities of key right-wing figures and organizations by showing their views in their own words. In this video, Kevin Swanson asserts that both the Old and New Testament require the death penalty for homosexuality.

The ‘Reverend’ Kevin Swanson is a political ally of Republican presidential candidates Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz. See also here.

If this would not be so dangerously serious, then I might say that the religious right Tea Party in the USA never looked anything like the 1773 Boston Tea party the name of which they hijacked; but that these teabaggers look more and more like the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, described by Lewis Carroll in Alice in Wonderland.

Now, from Alice in Wonderland to Harry Potter.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Better to drown children than let them read ‘homosexual’ Harry Potter, says extreme right-wing pastor

Kevin Swanson believes America should repent that Dumbledore ’emerged as a homosexual mentor to Harry Potter’

Jess Denham

Monday 9 November 2015

Parents should drown children before they let them read the Harry Potter books because of gay character Dumbledore, an extreme right-wing pastor has said.

Preacher Kevin Swanson was speaking at the National Religious Liberties Conference when he made the staggering suggestion during an impassioned rant against homosexuality.

“Friends, we are on the very cusp of judgement as I see it. We need to call America to repent. Repentance from defying the almighty. Repentance of abortion, the hundreds of millions of dead bodies, I don’t know how many,” he began, before bizarrely targeting JK Rowling’s bestselling wizarding novels.

“America, repent of Harry Potter. Repent that Dumbledore emerged as a homosexual mentor for Harry Potter.”

Not content at stopping with Harry Potter, Swanson went on to attack adorable animated movie How to Train Your Dragon. “Children are raised to be stumbled by the Dumbledores and Hiccups on How to Train Your Dragon,” he said. “My friends, America needs to repent.”

Then, came the closing comments that surely even Voldemort himself would not have dreamed up: “For tens of millions of parents it would be better that a millstone be hung around their neck and they be drowned at the bottom of the sea.”

Naturally, those who have watched this video soon began posting mocking comments deriding its ridiculousness. “If God will judge America for Harry Potter, but not Twilight, then He is not worthy of worship,” one YouTube user wrote.

Let us not forget that Swanson is the same man who, in March 2014, declared Disney hit Frozen “very evil” gay propaganda. “You wonder sometimes if maybe there’s something very evil happening here,” he said.

“I wonder if people are thinking: ‘You know I think this cute little movie is going to indoctrinate my 5-year-old to be a lesbian or treat homosexuality or bestiality in a light sort of way’.”

Swanson went on to attack the studio, claiming that if he were the Devil wanting to do something “really, really, really evil” to young children in US Christian families, he would “buy Disney in 1984”.

He believes Christians will one day be burnt at the stake by homosexuals but ended his speech by saying he wants to give the LGBT community time to repent before using the death penalty against them.

A judge in the US has ruled that a baby be taken away from its lesbian foster parents and placed with a man and a woman because “children do better in heterosexual homes”. April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce said they were “shattered” by the court order handed down this week by a juvenile court in Utah. … But the couple told local media that they believed Johansen had acted on his own religious beliefs and only cited vague “myriad” studies to support his decision: here.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) ended his presidential campaign on Tuesday: here.

Jamaican prize-winning novel on Bob Marley, review

This music video, recorded in Germany, is called Bob Marley – Live In Rockpalast, Dortmund (Full Concert) – 1980.

By Karl Dallas in Britain:

Monumental musings on mayhem and Marley

Tuesday 10th November 2015

KARL DALLAS recommends this year’s Man Booker prizewinner, set in Jamaica from the turbulent 1970s onwards

A Brief History of 7 Killings
by Marlon James
(Riverhead Books, £8.99)

WINNER of this year’s Man Booker prize, this long story of over 700 pages centres on the attempted assassination of reggae singer Bob Marley in 1976.

It’s a monumental and multifaceted achievement even though, because much of it is in Jamaican patois, it is not an easy read.

And, because of its depiction of the lower depths of Jamaican society, it’s unlikely to obtain the endorsement of the Jamaican tourist board.

The genesis of the author’s third book began in some confusion. In a note at the end he writes of its conception: “I had a narrative, even a few pages, but still not quite a novel. The problem was that I couldn’t tell whose story it was.

“Draft after draft, page after page, character after character, and still no through line, no narrative spine, nothing.”

A colleague suggested that he turn those fragments into a multivoiced narrative. “I had a novel, and it was right in front of me all that time. Half-formed and fully formed characters, scenes out of place, hundreds of pages that needed sequence and purpose.

“A novel that would be driven only by voice.”

Supposedly, it took the Man Booker judges just two hours’ discussion before they unanimously gave James the award but it’ll take readers many hours more, if not days and weeks more, to reach their own verdict.

This is a big book, not only in length but in depth also.

Reading it, I was reminded many times of the nightmare “Nighttime” dream sequence in James Joyce’s Ulysses.

Like that book, its strength is its basis in reality. But while Joyce concentrated the focus of his work on a single Dublin day, Marlon James’s narrative begins in 1976 and ends in 1991, shifting from one ghetto to another and from Kingston, Jamaica to Miami and New York.

It’s not something you can read just once and leave to gather dust on your bookshelves. I guarantee that, if you are prepared to put the work in, it will repay repeated readings in the years to come.

The author doesn’t make things easy, though.

Although he provides a list of the 70-odd — some very odd — characters at the beginning of the book, his hero-victim is referred to only as the Singer, although a Rolling Stone journalist says at one stage: “I should head back to Marley’s house tomorrow. I mean, I had an appointment. Like that means anything in Jamaica.”

The various ghettos are given new names. Kingston’s Tivoli Gardens becomes Copenhagen, which loses the irony of the original name for what one local newspaper has described as the worst slum in the Caribbean, where “three communal standpipes and two public bathrooms served a population of well over 5,000 people.”

If the book has anything like a central character, it would be Josey Wales — in real life, many Jamaicans have adopted names from US films. Robert Brammer became Clint Eastwood. Shotta Sherrif/Roland Palmer, don of the Eight Lanes, takes his name from Marley’s “I shot the sheriff” and the term becomes a generic description of ghetto killers.

“Me stun like little boy when him first see a dead shotta,” says one character.

Wales is obviously based on the real-life Lester Coke, the former Tivoli posse drugs boss, whose death in a crack-house fire is the climax of James’s story.

The book could do with a patois glossary and one advantage of reading the Kindle edition is that if you select a word you don’t understand you can sometimes, though not always, be given an explanation.

One thing that jarred with me was the frequent obscenities. I have interviewed many Jamaican musicians, including Marley, but none of them peppered their speech with terms like “pussyhole,” which appears over 100 times in the text.

Though few of the characters could be said to be models of spiritual perfection, most of them are in fact deeply religious and not just the comparatively few Rastafarians depicted within the book.

Before he is ousted as Copenhagen “don” by the Wales/Coke character, Papa-Lo muses: “The world now feeling like the seven seals breaking one after the other. Hataclaps or ill feeling, something in the air.”

Hataclaps means “apocalypse” and the reference is to the last book in the Bible, the trippy Revelation of St John the Evangelist.

As the CIA Jamaica chief says, the situation there was “like Cuba in 1959, only worse because this was all religious.”