A Song: “Men of England”

by Percy Bysshe Shelley

1792-1822
Men of England, wherefore plough
For the lords who lay ye low?
Wherefore weave with toil and care
The rich robes your tyrants wear?

Wherefore feed and clothe and save
From the cradle to the grave
Those ungrateful drones who would
Drain your sweat - nay, drink your blood?

Wherefore, Bees of England, forge
Many a weapon, chain, and scourge,
That these stingless drones may spoil
The forced produce of your toil?

Have ye leisure, comfort, calm,
Shelter, food, love's gentle balm?
Or what is it ye buy so dear
With your pain and with your fear?

The seed ye sow, another reaps;
The wealth ye find, another keeps;
The robes ye weave, another wears;
The arms ye forge, another bears.

Sow seed - but let no other reap;
Find wealth - let no imposter reap;
Weave robes - let not the idle wear;
Forge arms - in your defence to bear.

Shrink to your cellars, holes, and cells,
In hall ye deck another dwells.
Why shake the chains ye wrought? Ye see
The steel ye tempered glance on ye.

With plough and spade and hoe and loom
Trace your grave and build your tomb
And weave your winding sheet - till fair
England be your Sepulchre.

NB: have our poets and our songwriters lost their flame? Why do so few poets write to the people in the way Shelley did?
What do you think?


Published by Robin

I'm a retired journalist who still has stories to tell. This seems to be a good place to tell them.

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