I have chosen a poetic passage from ‘Charles I’, a play by Percy Bysshe Shelley, which he began writing in 1820 but did not finish. He was, I believe, a revolutionary and socialist poet and the poems are still relevant now. I found Shelley nearly 30 years ago, when I was given the book ‘Red Shelley’ by Paul Foot. This is where I have taken the passage from.
Second Citizen is speaking here:
Ay, there they are-
Nobles, and sons of nobles, patentees,
Monopolists, and stewards of this poor farm,
On whose lean sheep sit the prophetic crows,
Here is the pomp that strips the houseless orphan,
Here is the pride that breaks the desolate heart.
These are the lilies glorious as Solomon,
Who toil not, neither do they spin, – unless
It be the webs they catch poor rogues withal.
Here is the surfeit which to them who earn
The niggard wages of the earth, scarce leaves
The tithe that will support them till they crawl
Back to her cold hard bosom. Here is health
Followed by grim disease, glory by shame,
Waste by lame famine, wealth by squalid want,
And England’s sin by England’s punishment.
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
Words and passage contributed by Isla Blair.