Thursday, May 09, 2013

Gerald Massey - the Chartist Poet


Good People, put no faith in Kings, nor merchant-princes trust,
Who grind your hearts in Mammon's press—your faces in the
Trust to your own true thought! to break the Tyrant's dark dark
If yet one spark of freedom lives, let man be true to man.
We'll never fight again, Boys! with the Yankee, Pole, or Russ.
We love the French as Brothers, and the fervid French love us!
We'll league to crush the fiends who kill, all love and liberty,
They are but Giants because we kneel, one leap, and up go we!

Trust not the Priests, their tears are lies, their hearts are hard and
The welcomest of all their flock, are fierce wolves fleeced with gold;
Rogues all! for hire they prop the laws, that make us poor men
Ay! tho' their robes are black without, they've blacker souls
The Church and State are linkt, and sworn to desolate the land—
Good People, twixt these foxes tails, we'll fling a fiery brand!
Who fears the worst that they can wreak, that loveth liberty?
They are but Giants because we kneel, one leap and up go we!

"Back tramplers of the many! death and danger ambusht lie?
"Beware ye! or the blood may run! respect a nation's cry.
"Ah, shut not out the light of Hope! the People blind, may dash
"Like Sampson in his strong death-grope, and whelm ye in the
"Think how they taxt the People mad, that old regime of
"Whose heads, like poppies from Death's sythe, fell in a bloody
Ye plead in vain! ye bleed in vain! ah! Blind, when will ye see,
They are but Giants because we kneel! one leap, and up go we?

We've fought and bled, while Fortune's darlings slunk in
splendid lair,
With souls that crept like worms in buried Beauty's golden hair!
A tale of lives wrung out in tears, their grandeur-garb reveals,
And the last sobs of breaking hearts, sound in their chariot wheels.
But they're quaking now! and shaking now! who've wrought the
hurtling sorrow:
To-day the Desolators, but the desolate To-morrow!
Loud o'er their murderous menace, wakes the watchword of the
Kings are but Giants because we kneel! one leap, and up go we!

Some brave and patriots hearts, are gone, to break beyond the
And some who gave their lives for love, have found a prison-
Some, have grown grey with weeping! some have fainted by the
But youth still nouritures* within the hope of a better day.
O! Blessings on world-conquering youth! God's with the shining
Their spirits breathe of Paradise! they're freshest from his hand!
And looking on the People's might, who doubts they shall be
Kings are but Giants because we kneel ! one leap, and up go we!
* Nurtures.

(1828 - 1907)

Born in a hovel in Tring, on 29th May 1828, (Thomas) Gerald Massey was the eldest son of an impoverished and illiterate canal-boatman. Massey said of himself that “he had no childhood,” for on reaching the age of eight he was put to work in the Town’s silk mill where his twelve-hour days spent labouring in grim conditions added between nine pence and one shilling and three pence to his father's meagre earnings. He later worked in Tring’s then-thriving straw plaiting industry producing braid for the straw hat trade in nearby Luton and Dunstable. Thanks to his mother, Mary, Massey received a scant education at a “penny school”. Despite these tough beginnings, he learned to read and write using the Bible, Bunyan, Robinson Crusoe and Wesleyan tracts left at the family home.

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