I met Murder on the way – He had a mask like Castlereagh –
Very smooth he looked, yet grim; Seven blood-hounds followed him:
All were fat; and well they might Be in admirable plight,
For one by one, and two by two, He tossed the human hearts to chew
Which from his wide cloak he drew.
Next came Fraud, and he had on, Like Eldon, an ermined gown;
His big tears, for he wept well, Turned to mill-stones as they fell.
And the little children, who Round his feet played to and fro,
Thinking every tear a gem, Had their brains knocked out by them.
Clothed with the Bible, as with light, And the shadows of the night,
Like Sidmouth, next, Hypocrisy On a crocodile rode by.
And many more Destructions played In this ghastly masquerade,
All disguised, even to the eyes, Like Bishops, lawyers, peers, or spies.
Last came Anarchy: he rode On a white horse, splashed with blood;
He was pale even to the lips, Like Death in the Apocalypse.
And he wore a kingly crown; And in his grasp a sceptre shone;
On his brow this mark I saw – ‘I AM GOD, AND KING, AND LAW!’
With a pace stately and fast, Over English land he passed,
Trampling to a mire of blood The adoring multitude,
And a mighty troop around, With their trampling shook the ground,
Waving each a bloody sword, For the service of their Lord.
from The Masque of Anarchy Percy Shelley
“Strange, friend,” I said, “Here is no cause to mourn.”
“None,” said the other, “Save the undone years,
The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,
Was my life also; I went hunting wild
After the wildest beauty in the world,
Which lies not calm in eyes, or braided hair,
But mocks the steady running of the hour,
And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here.
For by my glee might many men have laughed,
And of my weeping something has been left,
Which must die now. I mean the truth untold,
The pity of war, the pity war distilled.
Now men will go content with what we spoiled.
Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled.
They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress,
None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress.
Courage was mine, and I had mystery;
Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery;
To miss the march of this retreating world
Into vain citadels that are not walled.
Strange Meeting by Wilfred Owen
I am thy father’s spirit,
Doom’d for a certain term to walk the night,
And for the day confined to fast in fires,
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature
Are burnt and purged away. But that I am forbid
To tell the secrets of my prison-house,
I could a tale unfold whose lightest word
Would harrow up thy soul, freeze thy young blood,
Make thy two eyes, like stars, start from their spheres,
Thy knotted and combined locks to part
And each particular hair to stand on end,
Like quills upon the fretful porpentine:
But this eternal blazon must not be
To ears of flesh and blood.
The Ghost of Hamlet’s Father
Men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please;
they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given and transmitted from the past.
The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living.
And just when they seem engaged in revolutionizing themselves and things, in creating something that has never yet existed, precisely in such periods of revolutionary crisis they anxiously conjure up the spirits of the past to their service and borrow from them names, battle cries and costumes in order to present the new scene of world history in this time-honoured disguise and this borrowed language.
“The condition of man…is a condition of war of everyone against everyone”
from Leviathan. Thomas Hobbes
O all you host of heaven! O earth! what else?
And shall I couple hell? O, fie! Hold, hold, my heart;
And you, my sinews, grow not instant old,
But bear me stiffly up. Remember thee!
Ay, thou poor ghost, while memory holds a seat
In this distracted globe. Remember thee!
Yea, from the table of my memory
I’ll wipe away all trivial fond records,
All saws of books, all forms, all pressures past,
That youth and observation copied there;
And thy commandment all alone shall live
Within the book and volume of my brain,
Unmix’d with baser matter: yes, by heaven!