The political poem “Mask of Anarchy” was written by Percy Bysshe Shelley, following the Peterloo Massacre in 1819 when pro-democracy and anti-poverty protesters in Manchester were brutally dispersed by armed cavalry. This is a powerful call for freedom, political representation and nonviolent resistance against oppression. These are its final verses:
And that slaughter to the Nation
Shall steam up like inspiration,
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.
See also: The Complete Poems of Percy Bysshe Shelley (Modern Library, 2013)