JOIN TEAM VT | SIGN UP DAILY NEWSLETTER
VETERANS TODAY ON : FACEBOOK | TWITTER | VT FORUM
|

Ye Are Many. They Are Few

by Stewart Ogilby

 

A group of workers gathered with their families to picnic and to hear a speech. Working class trade unions were growing in strength in 1819 and the ruling class in England was terrified. Routed by the authorities, eleven members of the group were killed and another one hundred and fifty were injured.

A young English poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, was living in Italy when the news reached him. Enraged, he isolated himself in a small attic room and wrote a poem in five days. When completed, he sent it to a friend for publication. At that time, publication would have resulted in the imprisonment of both publisher and author. The Mask of Anarchy wasn’t published until nearly a decade after the poet’s death.

The poem resonates with economic ideas not seriously heard in public until years later. It has been called the finest poem of political protest ever written in our language. Gandhi quoted it in India. During the Tiananmen Square uprising the final verses of its ninety-two stanzas were translated and chanted by students in Beijing, China –

And that slaughter to the nation
Shall steam up like inspiration,
Eloquent, oracular;
A volcano heard afar.

And these words shall then become
Like oppression’s thundered doom,
Ringing through each heart and brain
Heard again, again, again –

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.

"Thomas Jefferson"

Thomas Jefferson

Our American Revolution and the words of Thomas Jefferson terrified the ancien régime. The blood of Parisian aristocrats ran in ditches dug for that purpose in the Place de la Concorde. After Edmund Burke’s “Reflections on the Revolution in France” appeared, many apprehensive educated persons who formerly had harbored revolutionary thoughts launched a period of counter-revolution. Shelly was not one of them.

If read at all in today’s public schools, Shelly is best known for Ode to the West Wind and Ozymandias. The latter, a sonnet, recounts a forgotten ruler’s hubris and the fate of his empire.

Empire is a creature of those Few who are driven to exercise power financially and militarily over others. How can the Many, whose makeup does not oblige them to seek power over others thwart the machinations of the Few who seek control, riches, and power and lust after more?

We already have the answer! In his personal papers, contained in a 1798 draft of The Kentucky Resolutions, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “…in questions of power then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the constitution…”.

Shelley was, in many ways, a thoroughly modern man. His revolutionary poem does have a very contemporary ring to it, doesn’t it?

Bookmark and Share

Short URL: http://www.veteranstoday.com/?p=163631

The views expressed herein are the views of the author exclusively and not necessarily the views of VT or any other VT authors, affiliates, advertisers, sponsors, partners and technicians. Legal Notice

Posted by on Nov 19 2011, With 0 Reads, Filed under History. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

COMMENTS

To post, we ask that you login using Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, or Hotmail in the box below.
Don't have a social network account? Register and Login direct with VT and post.
Before you post, read our Comment Policy - Feedback

Comments Closed

Comments are closed

 

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Join Our Daily Newsletter
  View Newsletter ARCHIVE

WHAT'S HOT

  1. Middle East borders bound to change: Israel minister
  2. Ending ISIS Power in Libya
  3. Cognitive Elite – The Jewish Ghetto, Gaza and Detroit
  4. NEO – Two Minutes Hate – Emmanuel Goldstein in Eastern Ukraine
  5. Cure for Ebola Confirmed by Sierra Leone
  6. Top Dogs Use Their Running Dogs To Whip the Other Dogs: Is It Our Fault?
  7. Syria shoots down army jets operated by ISIL
  8. VetLikeMe Weekly 10/23/2014
  9. Denuclearize or lose our species: Multigenerational effects of exposure to radiation
  10. Ottawa shooting: Yet another false flag?
  11. Idols of Perversity: Hollywood Punks, Pimps, Whores, and Your Children
  12. Police kill shooter and lose suspect in Ottawa — Canada’s 911?
  13. Saudi king’s nephew admits to Riyadh support for ISIL
  14. Israel, the U.S. Congress and Treason
  15. NEO – Oil Oligarchs continue global takedown
  16. PuppetGate, the Continuing Saga
  17. America’s Fukushima?
  18. War on ISIL exposes US disastrous leadership: Analyst
  19. Blackwater guards convicted in 2007 Baghdad shooting
  20. Veterans Stand Down gives helping hand to vets in need
  1. Denyse Pez: When comes to this type of incident there is no such thing as coincidence" I expect we will hear more regarding that....
  2. davor: Sad and scary. Why build in the south-west where there is nothing when you can build on someone else's settlements. Jerusalem and whichever faith be it Judaism, Islam or Christianity ...
  3. Jack Heart: Read your bio Mr. O’Dowd. I don't think anyone needs to tell you about this government. Thank you sir for this contribution.
  4. Chandler: Interesting.
  5. Chandler: After a lengthy and in-depth study of Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, I am convinced he was unaware he was where he was doing what he was. The female in that ...

Veterans Today Poll

For over 60 years, US Taxpayers have been funding Israel, Palestine and Middle East. Are you happy with return on investment or would you prefer those monies be invested at home instead?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Archives