"Rise, like lions after slumber,
In unvanquishable number,
Shake your chains to earth like dew,
Which in sleep had fall'n on you.
"What is Freedom? You 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 you for them are made,
Loom, and plough, and sword, and spade;
With or without your own will, bent
To their defense and nourishment.
"Paper coin--that forgery
Of the title deeds, which you
Hold to something of the worth
Of the inheritance of Earth.
"'Tis to be a slave in Soul,
And to bold no strong control.
Over your own wills, but be
All that others make of you.
"This is Slavery-savage men,
Or wild beasts within a den,
Would endure not as you do:
But such ills they never knew.
"What are you, Freedom? Oh! could Slaves
Answer from their living graves
This demand, tyrants would flee
Like a dream's dim imagery.
"Let a vast assembly be,
And with great solemnity
Declare with measured words, that you
Are, as God has made you, free!
"Be your strong and simple words
Keen to wound as sharpened swords,
And wide as targes let them be,
With their shade to cover you.
"And these words shall then become
Like Oppressions thundered doom,
Ringing through each heart and brain,
Rise like lions after slumber
In unvanquishable NUMBER!
Shake your chains to earth, like dew
Which in sleep had fall'n on you:
YOU ARE MANY-THEY ARE FEW.
(From poem "The Masque of Anarchy", 1819.)
٭ Photography by fortherock, CC BY-SA 2.0.
Tag: From Old Books