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[Mrs. Shelley says in her Note on Poems of 1819 that Shelley idea of publishing a series of poems adapted expressly to commemorate” the people's “circumstances and wrongs—he wrote a few, but in those days of prosecution for libel they could not be printed.” I presume it was to this same scheme that Shelley referred when he wrote to Leigh Hunt as late as the 1st of May, 1820, enquiring whether he knew of any “ bookseller who would like to publish a little volume of popular songs, wholly political, and destined to awaken and direct the imagination of the reformers.” This enquiry is made in a letter to Hunt placed at my disposal by Mr. Townshend Mayer, and which I have never seen in print. Mrs. Shelley says these popular poems are not among the best of his productions, a writer being always shackled when he endeavours to write down to the comprehension of those who could not understand or feel a highly imaginative style.” I imagine we may safely accept the first six poems in the following section as the extant result of this scheme,—but Mrs. Shelley tells us that “ besides these outpourings of compassion and indignation, he had meant to adorn the cause he loved with loftier poetry of glory and triumph-such is the scope of the Ode to the Assertors of Liberty.” That ode will be found in Vol. II of this edition, pp. 294—5; and there seems to be no doubt that, though originally published with the heading An Ode, [written, October, 1819, before the Spaniards had recovered their liberty.], Shelley meant it to apply to England, the first stanza in particular having reference to the Manchester
Other minor poems belonging to this year are the Ode to Heaven, Ode to the West Wind and An Exhortation, which have already been given in this edition (Vol. II), with Prometheus Unbound, as Shelley gave them. The year that produced, with all these smaller works, The Cenci, the greater part of Prom The Mask of Anarchy, and Peter Bell the Third, must be reckoned a great year in the career of Shelley.-H. B. F.]
POEMS WRITTEN IN 1819.
WRITTEN DURING THE CASTLEREAGH ADMINISTRATION.1
CORPSES are cold in the tomb;
Abortions are dead in the womb,
Of Albion, free no more.
Her sons are as stones in the way-
They are trodden, and move not away,
Is Liberty, smitten to death.
Then trample and dance, thou Oppressor !
Thou art sole lord and possessor
Thy path to the grave.
First published in The Athenæum in 1832, and reprinted the following
year in The Shelley Papers, edited by Captain Medwin.
Hearest thou the festali din
And Wealth crying Havock ! within ? "Tis the bacchaval triumph which makes Truth dumb,
Aye, marry thy ghastly wife!
Spread thy couch in the chamber of Life!
To the bed of thy3 bride !
TO THE MEN OF ENGLAND. 4
MEN of England, wherefore plough
Wherefore feed, and clothe, and save,
According to Medwin, festal; according to Mrs. Shelley, festival.
3 So in Medwin's edition ; but the in Mrs. Shelley's.
? So in Mrs. Shelley's editions ; but Disgust in Medwiu's.
4 First given by Mrs. Shelley in the first edition of 1839.
Wherefore, Bees of England, forge
Have ye leisure, comfort, calm,
The seed ye sow, another reaps ;
Sow seed, but let no tyrant reap;
Shrink to your cellars, holes, and cells;
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.
ENGLAND IN 1819.1
An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying king,
FOR TWO POLITICAL CHARACTERS OF 1819.3
As from an ancestral oak
Two empty ravens sound their clarion,
Of fresh human carrion :
1 First given by Mrs. Shelley in her first edition of 1839.
2 In the first edition there is a semicolon here--in the second a com
I think the sense requires that there should be no stop. Mr. Rossetti reads Make for Makes.
3 From The Shelley Papers. The words for two political characters of 1819 were added in Mrs. Shelley's second edition of 1839. Medwin says the two characters were Castlereagh and Sidmouth, which is of course correct.