Robert Re.: Southey, Peasants, & Radical Protests against the Anti-Jacobin War

Chris Brady chris_brady at
Tue Oct 17 13:27:12 MDT 2000

While I appreciate his presentation, Evans conclusion might have
been better worded:  "His [young Southey] insistence on constructing
politically involved, non-aristocratic heroes provided an alternative
to the British warrior-hero so evident in his culture [good] and
challenges our current tendency to focus our thinking regarding heroes
in British Romantic literature on those of the more egoistic, socially
removed, and at times misanthropic Byronic tradition."
I suspect that "Byronic tradition" may be connected more to the lonely
heroes of Goethe, or the exotic Romance of Coleridge, than to Byron.
Should we overlook Byron's courageous defence of the Luddites?
Maybe more synthesis would improve the mix, especially if we consider
Karl Marx's favourite poem "To the Men of England" by Byron's buddy
Shelley :

Men of England, wherefore plough,
For the lords who lay ye low?
Wherefore weave with toil and care
The rich robes your tyrants wear?

Wherefore feed, and clothe, and save,
>From the cradle to the grave,
Those ungrateful drones who would
Drain your sweat—nay, drink your blood?

Wherefore, Bees of England, forge
Many a weapon, chain, and scourge
That these stingless drones may spoil
The forced produce of your toil?

Have ye leisure, comfort, calm,
Shelter, food, love’s gentle balm?
Or what is it you buy so dear
With your pain and with your fear?

The seed ye sow, another reaps;
The wealth ye find, another keeps;
The robes ye weave, another wears;
The arms ye forge, another bears.

Sow seed—but let no tyrant reap;
Find wealth—let no impostor heap;
Weave robes—let no idle wear;
Forge arms—in your defence to bear . . . .

Chris Brady

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