Images de page
[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]


Till, as clouds grow on the blast

Like tower-crowned giants striding fast,
And glare with lightnings as they fly,

And speak in thunder to the sky,


It grew-a shape arrayed in mail
Brighter than the viper's scale,
And upborne on wings whose grain
Was like the light of sunny rain.


On its helm seen far away

A planet like the morning's lay;

And those plumes its light rained through, Like a shower of crimson dew.


With step as soft as wind it passed
O'er the heads of men: so fast

That they knew the presence there,
And looked-and all was empty air.


As flowers beneath May's footsteps waken, As stars from Night's loose hair are shaken, As waves arise when loud winds call, Thoughts sprung where'er that step did fall.


And the prostrate multitude

Looked-and, ankle-deep in blood,

Hope, that maiden most serene,
Was walking with a quiet mien ;


And Anarchy, the ghastly birth,

Lay dead earth upon the earth;

The horse of Death, tameless as wind,
Fled, and with his hoofs did grind
To dust the murderers thronged behind.


A rushing light of clouds and splendour,
A sense awakening and yet tender,

Was heard and felt-and at its close
These words of joy and fear arose ;


As if their own indignant Earth,
Which gave the sons of England birth,
Had felt their blood upon her brow,
And, shuddering with a mother's throe,


Had turned every drop of blood

By which her face had been bedewed

To an accent unwithstood,

As if her heart had cried aloud.


"Men of England, heirs of glory, Heroes of unwritten story,

Nurslings of one mighty mother,

Hopes of her and one another !


"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!


What is Freedom? Ye can tell
That which Slavery is too well,

For its very name has grown
To an echo of your own.


"Tis to work, and have such pay As just keeps life from day to day

In your limbs as in a cell

For the tyrants' use to dwell:


"So that ye for them are made

Loom and plough and sword and spade;

With or without your own will, bent

To their defence and nourishment.


"Tis to see your children weak

With their mothers pine and peak
When the winter winds are bleak :-
They are dying whilst I speak.


""Tis to hunger for such diet
As the rich man in his riot
Casts to the fat dogs that lie
Surfeiting beneath his eye.


"Tis to let the ghost of Gold
Take from toil a thousandfold

More than e'er his substance could
In the tyrannies of old :


"Paper coin-that forgery
Of the title-deeds which ye
Hold to something of the worth
Of the inheritance of Earth.


"Tis to be a slave in soul,

And to hold no strong control
Over your own wills, but be
All that others make of ye.


"And, at length when ye complain

With a murmur weak and vain,

'Tis to see the tyrant's crew

Ride over your wives and you :—

Blood is on the grass like dew!


"Then it is to feel revenge,

Fiercely thirsting to exchange

Blood for blood, and wrong for wrong:

Do not thus when ye are strong!


"Birds find rest in narrow nest,

When weary of their wingèd quest; VOL. II.


Beasts find fare in woody lair

When storm and snow are in the air;


"Horses, oxen, have a home

When from daily toil they come ;
Household dogs, when the wind roars,
Find a home within warm doors;


"Asses, swine, have litter spread,
And with fitting food are fed ;
All things have a home but one :-
Thou, O Englishman, hast none !


"This is Slavery !—Savage men, Or wild beasts within a den, Would endure not as ye do:

But such ills they never knew.


"What art thou, Freedom? Oh! could slaves

Answer from their living graves

This demand, tyrants would flee
Like a dream's dim imagery.


"Thou art not, as impostors say,
A shadow soon to pass away,
A superstition, and a name
Echoing from the cave of Fame.


"For the labourer, thou art bread

And a comely table spread,

From his daily labour come,

In a neat and happy home.


"Thou art clothes and fire and food

For the trampled multitude.

No in countries that are free

Such starvation cannot be

As in England now we see !

« PrécédentContinuer »