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Percy Bysshe Shelley


The great poet of liberty, in “Feelings of a Republican on the Fall of Bonaparte”, still has contemporary relevance — for Saddam, and perhaps for others:

I hated thee, fallen Tyrant! I did groan,

To think that a most unambitious slave,

Like thou, should dance and revel on the grave

Of Liberty. Thou mightst have built thy throne

Where it had stood even now: thou didst prefer

A frail and bloody pomp, which Time has swept

In fragments towards oblivion. Massacre,

For this, I prayed, would on thy sleep have crept,

Treason and Slavery, Rapine, Fear, and Lust,

And stifled thee their minister. I know

Too late, since thou and France are in the dust,

That Virtue owns a more eternal foe

Than Force or Fraud: old Custom, legal Crime,

And bloody Faith, and foulest birth of Time.


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