Monday, 16 August 2010

Peterloo anniversary: rise like lions after slumber

Today is the anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre of 1819, when 15 were killed and at least 600 injured by cavalry attacking a mass peaceful demonstration.

The protest for parliamentary representation, at St Peter's Field, Manchester, prompted the great radical poet Percy Shelley to write one of the best-known political poems in the English language.

The Mask of Anarchy concludes with these stirring words of collective rebellion:

'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.'

Support the campaign for a fitting memorial. 


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