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Best Famous Political Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Political poems. This is a select list of the best famous Political poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Political poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of political poems.

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by Maggie Estep |

Sex Goddess

 I am THE SEX GODDESS OF THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE 
so don't mess with me 
I've got a big bag full of SEX TOYS 
and you can't have any
'cause they're all mine
'cause I'm
the SEX GODDESS OF THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE.


"Hey," you may say to yourself, 
"who the hell's she tryin' to kid, 
she's no sex goddess," 
But trust me, 
I am 
if only for the fact that I have 
the unabashed gall 
to call 
myself a SEX GODDESS,
I mean, after all,
it's what so many of us have at some point thought,
we've all had someone
who worshipped our filthy socks
and barked like a dog when we were near
giving us cause
to pause and think: You know, I may not look like much
but deep inside, I am a SEX GODDESS. 

Only
we'd never come out and admit it publicly
well, you wouldn't admit it publicly 
but I will
because I am
THE SEX GODDESS OF THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE.


I haven't always been 
a SEX GODDESS
I used to be just a mere mortal woman
but I grew tired of sexuality being repressed
then manifest
in late night 900 number ads
where 3 bodacious bimbettes
heave cleavage into the camera's winking lens and sigh:


"Big Girls oooh, Bad Girls oooh, Blonde Girls oooh,
you know what to do, call 1-900-UNMITIGATED BIMBO ooooh."


Yeah
I got fed up with the oooh oooh oooh oooh oooh
I got fed up with it all
so I put on my combat boots
and hit the road with my bag full of SEX TOYS
that were a vital part of my SEX GODDESS image
even though I would never actually use
my SEX TOYS 
'cause my being a SEX GODDESS
it isn't a SEXUAL thing
it's a POLITICAL thing
I don't actually have SEX, no
I'm too busy taking care of
important SEX GODDESS BUSINESS,
yeah,
I gotta go on The Charlie Rose Show
and MTV and become a parody
of myself and make
buckets full of money off my own inane brand
of self-righteous POP PSYCHOLOGY
because my pain is different
because I am a SEX GODDESS
and when I talk,
people listen 
why ?
Because, you guessed it,
I AM THE SEX GODDESS OF THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE
and you're not.


by Lucille Clifton |

shapeshifter poems

 1

the legend is whispered
in the women's tent
how the moon when she rises
full
follows some men into themselves
and changes them there
the season is short
but dreadful shapeshifters
they wear strange hands
they walk through the houses
at night their daughters
do not know them

2

who is there to protect her
from the hands of the father
not the windows which see and
say nothing not the moon
that awful eye not the woman
she will become with her
scarred tongue who who who the owl
laments into the evening who
will protect her this prettylittlegirl

3

if the little girl lies
still enough
shut enough
hard enough
shapeshifter may not
walk tonight
the full moon may not
find him here
the hair on him
bristling
rising
up

4

the poem at the end of the world
is the poem the little girl breathes
into her pillow the one
she cannot tell the one
there is no one to hear this poem
is a political poem is a war poem is a
universal poem but is not about
these things this poem
is about one human heart this poem
is the poem at the end of the world 

Credit: Copyright © 1987 by Lucille Clifton. Reprinted with the permission of BOA Editions, Ltd., www.boaeditions.org.


by John Berryman |

Dream Song 84: Op. posth. no. 7

 Plop, plop. The lobster toppled in the pot,
fulfilling, dislike man, his destiny,
glowing fire-red,
succulent, and on the whole becoming what
man wants. I crack my final claw singly,
wind up the grave, & to bed.

—Sound good, Mr Bones. I wish I had me some.
(I spose you got a lessen up your slave.)
—O no no no.
Sole I remember; where no lobster swine,—
pots hot or cold is none. With you I grieve
lightly, and I have no lesson.

Bodies are relishy, they say. Here's mine,
was. What ever happened to Political Economy,
leaving me here?
Is a rare—in my opinion—responsibility.
The military establishments perpetuate themselves forever.
Have a bite, for a sign.


by John Berryman |

Dream Song 105: As a kid I believed in democracy: I

 As a kid I believed in democracy: I
'saw no alternative'—teaching at The Big Place I ah
put it in practice:
we'd time for one long novel: to a vote—
Gone with the Wind they voted: I crunched 'No'
and we sat down with War & Peace.

As a man I believed in democracy (nobody 
ever learns anything): only one lazy day
my assistant, called James Dow,
& I were chatting, in a failure of meeting of minds,
and I said curious 'What are your real politics?'
'Oh, I'm a monarchist.'

Finishing his dissertation, in Political Science.
I resign. The universal contempt for Mr Nixon,
whom never I liked but who
alert & gutsy served us years under a dope,
since dynasty K swarmed in. Let's have a King
maybe, before a few mindless votes.


by John Berryman |

Dream Song 102: The sunburnt terraces which swans make home

 The sunburnt terraces which swans make home
with water purling, Macchu Pichu died
like Delphi long ago—
a message to Justinian closing it out,
the thousand years' authority, although
tho' never found exactly wrong

political patterns did indeed emerge;
the Oracle was conservative, like Lippmann,
roared the winds on the height,
The Shining Ones behind the shrine, whose verge
saw the impious plunged, 6000 statures
above the Temple shone

plundered, centuries plundered, first the gold
then bronze & marble, then the plinths,
then the dead nerve—
root-canal-work, ugh. I—I still hold
for the saviour of teeth, & I embrace
only he threw me a vicious


by William Butler Yeats |

On A Political Prisoner

 She that but little patience knew,
From childhood on, had now so much
A grey gull lost its fear and flew
Down to her cell and there alit,
And there endured her fingers' touch
And from her fingers ate its bit.

Did she in touching that lone wing
Recall the years before her mind
Became a bitter, an abstract thing,
Her thought some popular enmity:
Blind and leader of the blind
Drinking the foul ditch where they lie?

When long ago I saw her ride
Under Ben Bulben to the meet,
The beauty of her country-side
With all youth's lonely wildness stirred,
She seemed to have grown clean and sweet
Like any rock-bred, sea-borne bird:

Sea-borne, or balanced on the air
When first it sprang out of the nest
Upon some lofty rock to stare
Upon the cloudy canopy,
While under its storm-beaten breast
Cried out the hollows of the sea.


by William Butler Yeats |

Politics

 'In our time the destiny of man prevents its meanings
in political terms.' -- Thomas Mann.


How can I, that girl standing there,
My attention fix
On Roman or on Russian
Or on Spanish politics?
Yet here's a travelled man that knows
What he talks about,
And there's a politician
That has read and thought,
And maybe what they say is true
Of war and war's alarms,
But O that I were young again
And held her in my arms!


by Rudyard Kipling |

The Post That Fitted

 Ere the seamer bore him Eastward, Sleary was engaged to marry
An attractive girl at Tunbridge, whom he called "my little Carrie."
Sleary's pay was very modest; Sleary was the other way.
Who can cook a two-plate dinner on eight poor rupees a day?

Long he pondered o'er the question in his scantly furnished quarters --
Then proposed to Minnie Boffkin, eldest of Judge Boffkin's daughters.
Certainly an impecunious Subaltern was not a catch,
But the Boffkins knew that Minnie mightn't make another match.

So they recognised the business and, to feed and clothe the bride,
Got him made a Something Something somewhere on the Bombay side.
Anyhow, the billet carried pay enough for him to marry --
As the artless Sleary put it: -- "Just the thing for me and Carrie."

Did he, therefore, jilt Miss Boffkin -- impulse of a baser mind?
No! He started epileptic fits of an appalling kind.
[Of his modus operandi only this much I could gather: --
"Pears's shaving sticks will give you little taste and lots of lather."]

Frequently in public places his affliction used to smite
Sleary with distressing vigour -- always in the Boffkins' sight.
Ere a week was over Minnie weepingly returned his ring,
Told him his "unhappy weakness" stopped all thought of marrying.

Sleary bore the information with a chastened holy joy, --
Epileptic fits don't matter in Political employ, --
Wired three short words to Carrie -- took his ticket, packed his kit --
Bade farewell to Minnie Boffkin in one last, long, lingering fit.

Four weeks later, Carrie Sleary read -- and laughed until she wept --
Mrs. Boffkin's warning letter on the "wretched epilept." . . .
Year by year, in pious patience, vengeful Mrs. Boffkin sits
Waiting for the Sleary babies to develop Sleary's fits.


by Hilaire Belloc |

Lord Lundy

 Who was too Freely Moved to Tears, and thereby ruined his Political Career 

Lord Lundy from his earliest years
Was far too freely moved to Tears.
For instance if his Mother said,
"Lundy! It's time to go to Bed!"
He bellowed like a Little Turk.
Or if his father Lord Dunquerque
Said "Hi!" in a Commanding Tone,
"Hi, Lundy! Leave the Cat alone!"
Lord Lundy, letting go its tail,
Would raise so terrible a wail
As moved His Grandpapa the Duke
To utter the severe rebuke:
"When I, Sir! was a little Boy,
An Animal was not a Toy!"

His father's Elder Sister, who
Was married to a Parvenoo,
Confided to Her Husband, Drat!
The Miserable, Peevish Brat!
Why don't they drown the Little Beast?"
Suggestions which, to say the least,
Are not what we expect to hear
From Daughters of an English Peer.
His Grandmamma, His Mother's Mother,
Who had some dignity or other,
The Garter, or no matter what,
I can't remember all the Lot!
Said "Oh! That I were Brisk and Spry
To give him that for which to cry!"
(An empty wish, alas! For she
Was Blind and nearly ninety-three).

The Dear Old Butler thought-but there!
I really neither know nor care
For what the Dear Old Butler thought!
In my opinion, Butlers ought
To know their place, and not to play
The Old Retainer night and day.
I'm getting tired and so are you,
Let's cut the poem into two!

Second Part

It happened to Lord Lundy then,
As happens to so many men:
Towards the age of twenty-six,
They shoved him into politics;
In which profession he commanded
The Income that his rank demanded
In turn as Secretary for
India, the Colonies, and War.
But very soon his friends began
To doubt is he were quite the man:
Thus if a member rose to say
(As members do from day to day),
"Arising out of that reply . . .!"
Lord Lundy would begin to cry.
A Hint at harmless little jobs
Would shake him with convulsive sobs.
While as for Revelations, these
Would simply bring him to his knees,
And leave him whimpering like a child.
It drove his colleagues raving wild!
They let him sink from Post to Post,
From fifteen hundred at the most
To eight, and barely six--and then
To be Curator of Big Ben!. . .
And finally there came a Threat
To oust him from the Cabinet!

The Duke -- his aged grand-sire -- bore
The shame till he could bear no more.
He rallied his declining powers,
Summoned the youth to Brackley Towers,
And bitterly addressed him thus--
"Sir! you have disappointed us!
We had intended you to be
The next Prime Minister but three:
The stocks were sold; the Press was squared:
The Middle Class was quite prepared.
But as it is! . . . My language fails!
Go out and govern New South Wales!"

The Aged Patriot groaned and died:
And gracious! how Lord Lundy cried!


by George (Lord) Byron |

The Vision of Judgment

 BY 
QUEVEDO REDIVIVUS 


SUGGESTED BY THE COMPOSITION SO ENTITLED BY THE AUTHOR OF 'WAT TYLER' 

'A Daniel come to judgment! yes a Daniel!
I thank thee, Jew for teaching me that word.' 

PREFACE 

It hath been wisely said, that 'One fool makes many;' and it hath been poetically observed —

'That fools rush in where angels fear to tread.' - Pope 

If Mr. Southey had not rushed in where he had no business, and where he never was before, and never will be again, the following poem would not have been written. It is not impossible that it may be as good as his own, seeing that it cannot, by any species of stupidity, natural or acquired, be worse. The gross flattery, the dull impudence, the renegado intolerance, and impious cant, of the poem by the author if 'Wat Tyler,' are something so stupendous as to form the sublime of himself — containing the quintessence of his own attributes. 

So much for his poem — a word on his preface. In this preface it has pleased the magnanimous Laureate to draw the picture of a supposed 'Satanic School,' the which he doth recommend to the notice of the legislature; thereby adding to his other laurels, the ambition of those of an informer. If there exists anywhere, except in his imagination, such a School, is he not sufficiently armed against it by his own intense vanity? The truth is, that there are certain writers whom Mr. S. imagines, like Scrub, to have 'talked of him; for they have laughed consumedly.' 

I think I know enough of most of the writers to whom he is supposed to allude, to assert, that they, in their individual capacities, have done more good, in the charities of life, to their fellow-creatures, in any one year, than Mr. Southey has done harm to himself by his absurdities in his whole life; and this is saying a great deal. But I have a few questions to ask. 

1stly, Is Mr. Southey the author of 'Wat Tyler'? 

2ndly, Was he not refused a remedy at law by the highest judge of his beloved England, because it was a blasphemous and seditious publication? 

3rdly, Was he not entitled by William Smith, in full Parliament, 'a rancorous renegado'? 

4thly, Is he not poet laureate, with his own lines on Martin the regicide staring him in the face? 

And 5thly, Putting the four preceding items together, with what conscience dare he call the attention of the laws to the publications of others, be they what they may? 

I say nothing of the cowardice of such a proceeding, its meanness speaks for itself; but I wish to touch upon the motive, which is neither more nor less than that Mr. S. has been laughed at a little in some recent publications, as he was of yore in the 'Anti-jacobin,' by his present patrons. Hence all this 'skimble-scamble stuff' about 'Satanic,' and so forth. However, it is worthy of him — 'qualis ab incepto.' 

If there is anything obnoxious to the political opinions of a portion of the public in the following poem, they may thank Mr. Southey. He might have written hexameters, as he has written everything else, for aught that the writer cared — had they been upon another subject. But to attempt to canonise a monarch, who, whatever where his household virtues, was neither a successful nor a patriot king, — inasmuch as several years of his reign passed in war with America and Ireland, to say nothing of the aggression upon France, — like all other exaggeration, necessarily begets opposition. In whatever manner he may be spoken of in this new 'Vision,' his public career will not be more favourably transmitted by history. Of his private virtues (although a little expense to the nation) there can be no doubt. 

With regard to the supernatural personages treated of, I can only say that I know as much about them, and (as an honest man) have a better right to talk of them than Robert Southey. I have also treated them more tolerantly. The way in which that poor insane creature, the Laureate, deals about his judgments in the next world, is like his own judgment in this. If it was not completely ludicrous, it would be something worse. I don't think that there is much more to say at present. 

QUEVEDO REDIVIVUS 

P.S. — It is possible that some readers may object, in these objectionable times, to the freedom with which saints, angels, and spiritual persons discourse in this 'Vision.' But, for precedents upon such points, I must refer him to Fielding's 'Journey from the World to the next,' and to the Visions of myself, the said Quevedo, in Spanish or translated. The reader is also requested to observe, that no doctrinal tenets are insisted upon or discussed; that the person of the Deity is carefully withheld from sight, which is more than can be said for the Laureate, who hath thought proper to make him talk, not 'like a school-divine,' but like the unscholarlike Mr. Southey. The whole action passes on the outside of heaven; and Chaucer's 'Wife of Bath,' Pulci's 'Morgante Maggiore,' Swift's 'Tale of a Tub,' and the other
works above referred to, are cases in point of the freedom with which saints, &c. may be permitted to converse in works not intended to be serious. 

Q.R. 

*** Mr. Southey being, as he says, a good Christian and vindictive, threatens, I understand, a reply to this our answer. It is to be hoped that his visionary faculties will be in the mean time have acquired a little more judgment, properly so called: otherwise he will get himself into new dilemmas. These apostate jacobins furnish rich rejoinders. Let him take a specimen. Mr. Southey laudeth grievously 'one Mr. Landor,' who cultivates much prevate renown in the shape of Latin verses; and not long ago, the poet laureate dedicated to him, it appeareth, one of his fugitive lyrics, upon the strength of a poem called 'Gebir.' Who could suppose, that in this same Gebir the aforesaid Savage Landor (for such is his grim cognomen) putteth into the infernal regions no less a person than the hero of his friend Mr. Southey's heaven, — yea, even George the Third! See also how personal Savage becometh, when he hath a mind. The following is his portrait of our late gracious sovereign: 

(Prince Gebir having descended into the infernal regions, the shades of his royal ancestors are, at his request, called up to his view; and he exclaims to
his ghostly guide) — 

'Aroar, what wretch that nearest us? what wretch 
Is that with eyebrows white and slanting brow? 
Listen! him yonder who, bound down supine, 
Shrinks yelling from that sword there, engine-hung. 
He too amongst my ancestors! I hate 
The despot, but the dastard I despise. 
Was he our countryman?' 
'Alas, O king! 
Iberia bore him, but the breed accurst 
Inclement winds blew blighting from north-east.' 
'He was a warrior then, nor fear'd the gods?' 
'Gebir, he fear'd the demons, not the gods, 
Though them indeed his daily face adored: 
And was no warrior, yet the thousand lives 
Squander'd, as stones to exercise a sling, 
And the tame cruelty and cold caprice —
Oh madness of mankind! address'd, adored!' 

Gebir, p. 28. 

I omit noticing some edifying Ithyphallics of Savagius, wishing to keep the proper veil over them, if his grave but somewhat indiscreet worshipper will suffer it; but certainly these teachers of 'great moral lessons' are apt to be found in strange company. 




I 

Saint Peter sat by the celestial gate: 
His keys were rusty, and the lock was dull, 
So little trouble had been given of late; 
Not that the place by any means was full, 
But since the Gallic era 'eight-eight' 
The devils had ta'en a longer, stronger pull, 
And 'a pull altogether,' as they say 
At sea — which drew most souls another way. 

II 

The angels all were singing out of tune, 
And hoarse with having little else to do, 
Excepting to wind up the sun and moon, 
Or curb a runaway young star or two, 
Or wild colt of a comet, which too soon 
Broke out of bounds o'er th' ethereal blue, 
Splitting some planet with its playful tail, 
As boats are sometimes by a wanton whale. 

III 

The guardian seraphs had retired on high, 
Finding their charges past all care below; 
Terrestrial business fill'd nought in the sky 
Save the recording angel's black bureau; 
Who found, indeed, the facts to multiply 
With such rapidity of vice and woe, 
That he had stripp'd off both his wings in quills, 
And yet was in arrear of human ills. 

IV 

His business so augmented of late years, 
That he was forced, against his will no doubt, 
(Just like those cherubs, earthly ministers,) 
For some resource to turn himself about, 
And claim the help of his celestial peers, 
To aid him ere he should be quite worn out 
By the increased demand for his remarks: 
Six angels and twelve saints were named his clerks. 

V

This was a handsome board — at least for heaven; 
And yet they had even then enough to do, 
So many conqueror's cars were daily driven, 
So many kingdoms fitted up anew; 
Each day too slew its thousands six or seven, 
Till at the crowning carnage, Waterloo, 
They threw their pens down in divine disgust — 
The page was so besmear'd with blood and dust. 

VI 

This by the way: 'tis not mine to record 
What angels shrink from: even the very devil 
On this occasion his own work abhorr'd, 
So surfeited with the infernal revel: 
Though he himself had sharpen'd every sword, 
It almost quench'd his innate thirst of evil. 
(Here Satan's sole good work deserves insertion — 
'Tis, that he has both generals in reveration.) 

VII

Let's skip a few short years of hollow peace, 
Which peopled earth no better, hell as wont, 
And heaven none — they form the tyrant's lease, 
With nothing but new names subscribed upon't; 
'Twill one day finish: meantime they increase, 
'With seven heads and ten horns,' and all in front, 
Like Saint John's foretold beast; but ours are born 
Less formidable in the head than horn. 

VIII 

In the first year of freedom's second dawn 
Died George the Third; although no tyrant, one 
Who shielded tyrants, till each sense withdrawn 
Left him nor mental nor external sun: 
A better farmer ne'er brush'd dew from lawn, 
A worse king never left a realm undone! 
He died — but left his subjects still behind, 
One half as mad — and t'other no less blind. 

IX

He died! his death made no great stir on earth: 
His burial made some pomp; there was profusion 
Of velvet, gilding, brass, and no great dearth 
Of aught but tears — save those shed by collusion. 
For these things may be bought at their true worth; 
Of elegy there was the due infusion — 
Bought also; and the torches, cloaks, and banners, 
Heralds, and relics of old Gothic manners, 

X 

Form'd a sepulchral melo-drame. Of all 
The fools who flack's to swell or see the show, 
Who cared about the corpse? The funeral 
Made the attraction, and the black the woe. 
There throbbed not there a thought which pierced the pall; 
And when the gorgeous coffin was laid low, 
It seamed the mockery of hell to fold 
The rottenness of eighty years in gold. 

XI 

So mix his body with the dust! It might 
Return to what it must far sooner, were 
The natural compound left alone to fight 
Its way back into earth, and fire, and air; 
But the unnatural balsams merely blight 
What nature made him at his birth, as bare 
As the mere million's base unmarried clay — 
Yet all his spices but prolong decay. 

XII 

He's dead — and upper earth with him has done; 
He's buried; save the undertaker's bill, 
Or lapidary scrawl, the world is gone 
For him, unless he left a German will: 
But where's the proctor who will ask his son? 
In whom his qualities are reigning still, 
Except that household virtue, most uncommon, 
Of constancy to a bad, ugly woman. 

XIII 

'God save the king!' It is a large economy 
In God to save the like; but if he will 
Be saving, all the better; for not one am I 
Of those who think damnation better still: 
I hardly know too if not quite alone am I 
In this small hope of bettering future ill 
By circumscribing, with some slight restriction, 
The eternity of hell's hot jurisdiction. 

XIV 

I know this is unpopular; I know 
'Tis blasphemous; I know one may be damned 
For hoping no one else may ever be so; 
I know my catechism; I know we're caromed 
With the best doctrines till we quite o'erflow; 
I know that all save England's church have shamm'd, 
And that the other twice two hundred churches 
And synagogues have made a damn'd bad purchase. 

XV

God help us all! God help me too! I am, 
God knows, as helpless as the devil can wish, 
And not a whit more difficult to damn, 
Than is to bring to land a late-hook'd fish, 
Or to the butcher to purvey the lamb; 
Not that I'm fit for such a noble dish, 
As one day will be that immortal fry 
Of almost everybody born to die. 

XVI

Saint Peter sat by the celestial gate, 
And nodded o'er his keys; when, lo! there came 
A wondrous noise he had not heard of late — 
A rushing sound of wind, and stream, and flame; 
In short, a roar of things extremely great, 
Which would have made aught save a saint exclaim; 
But he, with first a start and then a wink, 
Said, 'There's another star gone out, I think!' 

XVII 

But ere he could return to his repose, 
A cherub flapp'd his right wing o'er his eyes — 
At which St. Peter yawn'd, and rubb'd his hose: 
'Saint porter,' said the angel, 'prithee rise!' 
Waving a goodly wing, which glow'd, as glows 
An earthly peacock's tail, with heavenly dyes; 
To which the saint replied, 'Well, what's the matter? 
'Is Lucifer come back with all this clatter?' 

XVIII 

'No,' quoth the cherub; 'George the Third is dead.' 
'And who is George the Third?' replied the apostle; 
'What George? what Third?' 'The king of England,' said 
The angel. 'Well, he won't find kings to jostle 
Him on his way; but does he wear his head? 
Because the last we saw here had a tussle, 
And ne'er would have got into heaven's good graces, 
Had he not flung his head in all our faces. 

XIX 

'He was, if I remember, king of France; 
That head of his, which could not keep a crown 
On earth, yet ventured in my face to advance 
A claim to those of martyrs — like my own: 
If I had had my sword, as I had once 
When I cut ears off, I had cut him down; 
But having but my keys, and not my brand, 
I only knock'd his head from out his hand. 

XX 

'And then he set up such a headless howl, 
That all the saints came out and took him in; 
And there he sits by St. Paul, cheek by jowl; 
That fellow Paul— the parven?! The skin 
Of St. Bartholomew, which makes his cowl 
In heaven, and upon earth redeem'd his sin, 
So as to make a martyr, never sped 
Better than did this weak and wooden head. 

XXI 

'But had it come up here upon its shoulders, 
There would have been a different tale to tell; 
The fellow-feeling in the saint's beholders 
Seems to have acted on them like a spell, 
And so this very foolish head heaven solders 
Back on its trunk: it may be very well, 
And seems the custom here to overthrow 
Whatever has been wisely done below.' 

XXII 

The angel answer'd, 'Peter! do not pout: 
The king who comes has head and all entire, 
And never knew much what it was about — 
He did as doth the puppet — by its wire, 
And will be judged like all the rest, no doubt: 
My business and your own is not to inquire 
Into such matters, but to mind our cue — 
Which is to act as we are bid to do.' 

XXIII 

While thus they spake, the angelic caravan, 
Arriving like a rush of mighty wind, 
Cleaving the fields of space, as doth the swan 
Some silver stream (say Ganges, Nile, or Inde, 
Or Thames, or Tweed), and 'midst them an old man 
With an old soul, and both extremely blind, 
Halted before the gate, and in his shroud 
Seated their fellow traveller on a cloud. 

XXIV 

But bringing up the rear of this bright host 
A Spirit of a different aspect waves 
His wings, like thunder-clouds above some coast 
Whose barren beach with frequent wrecks is paved; 
His brow was like the deep when tempest-toss'd; 
Fierce and unfathomable thoughts engraved 
Eternal wrath on his immortal face, 
And where he gazed a gloom pervaded space. 

XXV 

As he drew near, he gazed upon the gate 
Ne'er to be enter'd more by him or Sin, 
With such a glance of supernatural hate, 
As made Saint Peter wish himself within; 
He potter'd with his keys at a great rate, 
And sweated through his apostolic skin: 
Of course his perspiration was but ichor, 
Or some such other spiritual liquor. 

XXIV 

The very cherubs huddled all together, 
Like birds when soars the falcon; and they felt 
A tingling to the top of every feather, 
And form'd a circle like Orion's belt 
Around their poor old charge; who scarce knew whither 
His guards had led him, though they gently dealt 
With royal manes (for by many stories, 
And true, we learn the angels all are Tories.) 

XXVII 

As things were in this posture, the gate flew 
Asunder, and the flashing of its hinges 
Flung over space an universal hue 
Of many-colour'd flame, until its tinges 
Reach'd even our speck of earth, and made a new 
Aurora borealis spread its fringes 
O'er the North Pole; the same seen, when ice-bound, 
By Captain Parry's crew, in 'Melville's Sound.' 

XXVIII 

And from the gate thrown open issued beaming 
A beautiful and mighty Thing of Light, 
Radiant with glory, like a banner streaming 
Victorious from some world-o'erthrowing fight: 
My poor comparisons must needs be teeming 
With earthly likenesses, for here the night 
Of clay obscures our best conceptions, saving 
Johanna Southcote, or Bob Southey raving. 

XXIX 

'Twas the archangel Michael; all men know 
The make of angels and archangels, since 
There's scarce a scribbler has not one to show, 
From the fiends' leader to the angels' prince; 
There also are some altar-pieces, though 
I really can't say that they much evince 
One's inner notions of immortal spirits; 
But let the connoisseurs explain their merits. 

XXX 

Michael flew forth in glory and in good; 
A goodly work of him from whom all glory 
And good arise; the portal past — he stood; 
Before him the young cherubs and saints hoary — 
(I say young, begging to be understood 
By looks, not years; and should be very sorry 
To state, they were not older than St. Peter, 
But merely that they seem'd a little sweeter. 

XXXI 

The cherubs and the saints bow'd down before 
That arch-angelic Hierarch, the first 
Of essences angelical, who wore 
The aspect of a god; but this ne'er nursed 
Pride in his heavenly bosom, in whose core 
No thought, save for his Master's service, durst 
Intrude, however glorified and high; 
He knew him but the viceroy of the sky. 

XXXII 

He and the sombre, silent Spirit met — 
They knew each other both for good and ill; 
Such was their power, that neither could forget 
His former friend and future foe; but still 
There was a high, immortal, proud regret 
In either's eye, as if 'twere less their will 
Than destiny to make the eternal years 
Their date of war, and their 'champ clos' the spheres. 

XXXIII 

But here they were in neutral space: we know 
From Job, that Satan hath the power to pay 
A heavenly visit thrice a year or so; 
And that the 'sons of God', like those of clay, 
Must keep him company; and we might show 
From the same book, in how polite a way 
The dialogue is held between the Powers 
Of Good and Evil — but 'twould take up hours. 

XXXIV 

And this is not a theologic tract, 
To prove with Hebrew and with Arabic, 
If Job be allegory or a fact, 
But a true narrative; and thus I pick 
From out the whole but such and such an act 
As sets aside the slightest thought of trick. 
'Tis every tittle true, beyond suspicion, 
And accurate as any other vision. 

XXXV 

The spirits were in neutral space, before 
The gates of heaven; like eastern thresholds is 
The place where Death's grand cause is argued o'er, 
And souls despatch'd to that world or to this; 
And therefore Michael and the other wore 
A civil aspect: though they did not kiss, 
Yet still between his Darkness and his Brightness 
There pass'd a mutual glance of great politeness. 

XXXVI 

The Archangel bow'd, not like a modern beau, 
But with a graceful Oriental bend, 
Pressing one radiant arm just where below 
The heart in good men is supposed to tend; 
He turn'd as to an equal, not too low, 
But kindly; Satan met his ancient friend 
With more hauteur, as might an old Castilian 
Poor noble meet a mushroom rich civilian. 

XXXVII 

He merely bent his diabolic brow 
An instant; and then raising it, he stood 
In act to assert his right or wrong, and show 
Cause why King George by no means could or should 
Make out a case to be exempt from woe 
Eternal, more than other kings, endued 
With better sense and hearts, whom history mentions, 
Who long have 'paved hell with their good intentions.' 

XXXVIII 

Michael began: 'What wouldst thou with this man, 
Now dead, and brought before the Lord? What ill 
Hath he wrought since his mortal race began, 
That thou cans't claim him? Speak! and do thy will, 
If it be just: if in this earthly span 
He hath been greatly failing to fulfil 
His duties as a king and mortal, say, 
And he is thine; if not, let him have way.' 

XXXIX 

'Michael!' replied the Prince of Air, 'even here, 
Before the Gate of him thou servest, must 
I claim my subject: and will make appear 
That as he was my worshipper in dust, 
So shall he be in spirit, although dear 
To thee and thine, because nor wine nor lust 
Were of his weaknesses; yet on the throne 
He reign'd o'er millions to serve me alone. 

XL 

'Look to our earth, or rather mine; it was, 
Once, more thy master's: but I triumph not 
In this poor planet's conquest; nor, alas! 
Need he thou servest envy me my lot: 
With all the myriads of bright worlds which pass 
In worship round him, he may have forgot 
Yon weak creation of such paltry things; 
I think few worth damnation save their kings, — 

XLI 

'And these but as a kind of quit-rent, to 
Assert my right as lord: and even had 
I such an inclination, 'twere (as you 
Well know) superfluous; they are grown so bad, 
That hell has nothing better left to do 
Than leave them to themselves: so much more mad 
And evil by their own internal curse, 
Heaven cannot make them better, nor I worse. 

XLII 

'Look to the earth, I said, and say again: 
When this old, blind, mad, helpless, weak, poor worm 
Began in youth's first bloom and flush to reign, 
The world and he both wore a different form, 
And must of earth and all the watery plain 
Of ocean call'd him king: through many a storm 
His isles had floated on the abyss of time; 
For the rough virtues chose them for their clime. 

XLIII 

'He came to his sceptre young: he leaves it old: 
Look to the state in which he found his realm, 
And left it; and his annals too behold, 
How to a minion first he gave the helm; 
How grew upon his heart a thirst for gold, 
The beggar's vice, which can but overwhelm 
The meanest of hearts; and for the rest, but glance 
Thine eye along America and France. 

XLIV 

'Tis true, he was a tool from first to last 
(I have the workmen safe); but as a tool 
So let him be consumed. From out the past 
Of ages, since mankind have known the rule 
Of monarchs — from the bloody rolls amass'd 
Of sin and slaughter — from the C?sar's school, 
Take the worst pupil; and produce a reign 
More drench'd with gore, more cumber'd with the slain. 

XLV 

'He ever warr'd with freedom and the free: 
Nations as men, home subjects, foreign foes, 
So that they utter'd the word "Liberty!" 
Found George the Third their first opponent. Whose 
History was ever stain'd as his will be 
With national and individual woes? 
I grant his household abstinence; I grant 
His neutral virtues, which most monarchs want; 

XLVI 

'I know he was a constant consort; own 
He was a decent sire, and middling lord. 
All this is much, and most upon a throne; 
As temperance, if at Apicius' board, 
Is more than at an anchorite's supper shown. 
I grant him all the kindest can accord; 
And this was well for him, but not for those 
Millions who found him what oppression chose. 

XLVII 

'The New World shook him off; the Old yet groans 
Beneath what he and his prepared, if not 
Completed: he leaves heirs on many thrones 
To all his vices, without what begot 
Compassion for him — his tame virtues; drones 
Who sleep, or despots who have not forgot 
A lesson which shall be re-taught them, wake 
Upon the thrones of earth; but let them quake! 

XLVIII 

'Five millions of the primitive, who hold 
The faith which makes ye great on earth, implored 
A part of that vast all they held of old, — 
Freedom to worship — not alone your Lord, 
Michael, but you, and you, Saint Peter! Cold 
Must be your souls, if you have not abhorr'd 
The foe to Catholic participation 
In all the license of a Christian nation. 

XLIX 

'True! he allow'd them to pray God; but as 
A consequence of prayer, refused the law 
Which would have placed them upon the same base 
With those who did not hold the saints in awe.' 
But here Saint Peter started from his place, 
And cried, 'You may the prisoner withdraw: 
Ere heaven shall ope her portals to this Guelph, 
While I am guard, may I be damn'd myself! 

L

'Sooner will I with Cerberus exchange 
My office (and his no sinecure) 
Than see this royal Bedlam bigot range 
The azure fields of heaven, of that be sure!' 
'Saint!' replied Satan, 'you do well to avenge 
The wrongs he made your satellites endure; 
And if to this exchange you should be given, 
I'll try to coax our Cerberus up to heaven!' 

LI

Here Michael interposed: 'Good saint! and devil! 
Pray, not so fast; you both outrun discretion. 
Saint Peter! you were wont to be more civil! 
Satan! excuse this warmth of his expression, 
And condescension to the vulgar's level: 
Event saints sometimes forget themselves in session. 
Have you got more to say?' — 'No.' — If you please 
I'll trouble you to call your witnesses.' 

LII 

Then Satan turn'd and waved his swarthy hand, 
Which stirr'd with its electric qualities 
Clouds farther off than we can understand, 
Although we find him sometimes in our skies; 
Infernal thunder shook both sea and land 
In all the planets, and hell's batteries 
Let off the artillery, which Milton mentions 
As one of Satan's most sublime inventions. 

LIII 

This was a signal unto such damn'd souls 
As have the privilege of their damnation 
Extended far beyond the mere controls 
Of worlds past, present, or to come; no station 
Is theirs particularly in the rolls 
Of hell assign'd; but where their inclination 
Or business carries them in search of game, 
They may range freely — being damn'd the same. 

LIV 

They're proud of this — as very well they may, 
It being a sort of knighthood, or gilt key 
Stuck in their loins; or like to an 'entr?' 
Up the back stairs, or such free-masonry. 
I borrow my comparisons from clay, 
Being clay myself. Let not those spirits be 
Offended with such base low likenesses; 
We know their posts are nobler far than these. 

LV 

When the great signal ran from heaven to hell — 
About ten million times the distance reckon'd 
From our sun to its earth, as we can tell 
How much time it takes up, even to a second, 
For every ray that travels to dispel 
The fogs of London, through which, dimly beacon'd, 
The weathercocks are gilt some thrice a year, 
If that the summer is not too severe; 

LVI 

I say that I can tell — 'twas half a minute; 
I know the solar beams take up more time 
Ere, pack'd up for their journey, they begin it; 
But then their telegraph is less sublime, 
And if they ran a race, they would not win it 
'Gainst Satan's couriers bound for their own clime. 
The sun takes up some years for every ray 
To reach its goal — the devil not half a day. 

LVII 

Upon the verge of space, about the size 
Of half-a-crown, a little speck appear'd 
(I've seen a something like it in the skies 
In the ?gean, ere a squall); it near'd, 
And growing bigger, took another guise; 
Like an a?rial ship it tack'd, and steer'd, 
Or was steer'd (I am doubtful of the grammar 
Of the last phrase, which makes the stanza stammer; — 

LVIII 

But take your choice): and then it grew a cloud; 
And so it was — a cloud of witnesses. 
But such a cloud! No land e'er saw a crowd 
Of locusts numerous as the heavens saw these; 
They shadow'd with their myriads space; their loud 
And varied cries were like those of wild geese 
(If nations may be liken'd to a goose), 
And realised the phrase of 'hell broke loose.' 

LIX 

Here crash'd a sturdy oath of stout John Bull, 
Who damn'd away his eyes as heretofore: 
There Paddy brogued, 'By Jasus!' — 'What's your wull?' 
The temperate Scot exclaim'd: the French ghost swore 
In certain terms I shan't translate in full, 
As the first coachman will; and 'midst the roar, 
The voice of Jonathan was heard to express, 
'Our president is going to war, I guess.' 

LX 

Besides there were the Spaniard, Dutch, and Dane; 
In short, an universal shoal of shades, 
From Otaheite's isle to Salisbury Plain, 
Of all climes and professions, years and trades, 
Ready to swear against the good king's reign, 
Bitter as clubs in cards are against spades: 
All summon'd by this grand 'subpoena,' to 
Try if kings mayn't be damn'd like me or you. 

LXI 

When Michael saw this host, he first grew pale, 
As angels can; next, like Italian twilight, 
He turn'd all colours — as a peacock's tail, 
Or sunset streaming through a Gothic skylight 
In some old abbey, or a trout not stale, 
Or distant lightning on the horizon by night, 
Or a fresh rainbow, or a grand review 
Of thirty regiments in red, green, and blue. 

LXII 

Then he address'd himself to Satan: 'Why — 
My good old friend, for such I deem you, though 
Our different parties make us fight so shy, 
I ne'er mistake you for a personal foe; 
Our difference is political, and I 
Trust that, whatever may occur below, 
You know my great respect for you; and this 
Makes me regret whate'er you do amiss — 

LXIII 

'Why, my dear Lucifer, would you abuse 
My call for witnesses? I did not mean 
That you should half of earth and hell produce; 
'Tis even superfluous, since two honest, clean 
True testimonies are enough: we lose 
Our time, nay, our eternity, between 
The accusation and defence: if we 
Hear both, 'twill stretch our immortality.' 

LXIV 

Satan replied, 'To me the matter is 
Indifferent, in a personal point of view; 
I can have fifty better souls than this 
With far less trouble than we have gone through 
Already; and I merely argued his 
Late majesty of Britain's case with you 
Upon a point of form: you may dispose 
Of him; I've kings enough below, God knows!' 

LXV 

Thus spoke the Demon (late call'd 'multifaced' 
By multo-scribbling Southey). 'Then we'll call 
One or two persons of the myriads placed 
Around our congress, and dispense with all 
The rest,' quoth Michael: 'Who may be so graced 
As to speak first? there's choice enough — who shall 
It be?' Then Satan answer'd, 'There are many; 
But you may choose Jack Wilkes as well as any.' 

LXVI 

A merry, cock-eyed, curious-looking sprite 
Upon the instant started from the throng, 
Dress'd in a fashion now forgotten quite; 
For all the fashions of the flesh stick long 
By people in the next world; where unite 
All the costumes since Adam's, right or wrong, 
From Eve's fig-leaf down to the petticoat, 
Almost as scanty, of days less remote. 

LXVII 

The spirit look'd around upon the crowds 
Assembled, and exclaim'd, 'My friends of all 
The spheres, we shall catch cold amongst these clouds; 
So let's to business: why this general call? 
If those are freeholders I see in shrouds, 
And 'tis for an election that they bawl, 
Behold a candidate with unturn'd coat! 
Saint Peter, may I count upon your vote?' 

LXVIII 

'Sir,' replied Michael, 'you mistake; these things 
Are of a former life, and what we do 
Above is more august; to judge of kings 
Is the tribunal met: so now you know.' 
'Then I presume those gentlemen with wings,' 
Said Wilkes, 'are cherubs; and that soul below 
Looks much like George the Third, but to my mind 
A good deal older — Bless me! is he blind?' 

LXIX 

'He is what you behold him, and his doom 
Depends upon his deeds,' the Angel said; 
'If you have aught to arraign in him, the tomb 
Give licence to the humblest beggar's head 
To lift itself against the loftiest.' — 'Some,' 
Said Wilkes, 'don't wait to see them laid in lead, 
For such a liberty — and I, for one, 
Have told them what I though beneath the sun.' 

LXX 

'Above the sun repeat, then, what thou hast 
To urge against him,' said the Archangel. 'Why,' 
Replied the spirit, 'since old scores are past, 
Must I turn evidence? In faith, not I. 
Besides, I beat him hollow at the last, 
With all his Lords and Commons: in the sky 
I don't like ripping up old stories, since 
His conduct was but natural in a prince. 

LXXI 

'Foolish, no doubt, and wicked, to oppress 
A poor unlucky devil without a shilling; 
But then I blame the man himself much less 
Than Bute and Grafton, and shall be unwilling 
To see him punish'd here for their excess, 
Since they were both damn'd long ago, and still in 
Their place below: for me, I have forgiven, 
And vote his "habeas corpus" into heaven.' 

LXXII 

'Wilkes,' said the Devil, 'I understand all this; 
You turn'd to half a courtier ere you died, 
And seem to think it would not be amiss 
To grow a whole one on the other side 
Of Charon's ferry; you forget that his 
Reign is concluded; whatso'er betide, 
He won't be sovereign more: you've lost your labor, 
For at the best he will be but your neighbour. 

LXXIII 

'However, I knew what to think of it, 
When I beheld you in your jesting way, 
Flitting and whispering round about the spit 
Where Belial, upon duty for the day, 
With Fox's lard was basting William Pitt, 
His pupil; I knew what to think, I say: 
That fellow even in hell breeds farther ills; 
I'll have him gagg'd — 'twas one of his own bills. 

LXXIV 

'Call Junius!' From the crowd a shadow stalk'd, 
And at the same there was a general squeeze, 
So that the very ghosts no longer walk'd 
In comfort, at their own a?rial ease, 
But were all ramm'd, and jamm'd (but to be balk'd, 
As we shall see), and jostled hands and knees, 
Like wind compress'd and pent within a bladder, 
Or like a human colic, which is sadder. 

LXXV 

The shadow came — a tall, thin, grey-hair'd figure, 
That look'd as it had been a shade on earth; 
Quick in it motions, with an air of vigour, 
But nought to mar its breeding or its birth; 
Now it wax'd little, then again grew bigger, 
With now an air of gloom, or savage mirth; 
But as you gazed upon its features, they 
Changed every instant — to what, none could say. 

LXXVI 

The more intently the ghosts gazed, the less 
Could they distinguish whose the features were; 
The Devil himself seem'd puzzled even to guess; 
They varied like a dream — now here, now there; 
And several people swore from out the press 
They knew him perfectly; and one could swear 
He was his father: upon which another 
Was sure he was his mother's cousin's brother: 

LXXVII 

Another, that he was a duke, or a knight, 
An orator, a lawyer, or a priest, 
A nabob, a man-midwife; but the wight 
Mysterious changed his countenance at least 
As oft as they their minds; though in full sight 
He stood, the puzzle only was increased; 
The man was a phantasmagoria in 
Himself — he was so volatile and thin. 

LXXVIII 

The moment that you had pronounce him one, 
Presto! his face change'd and he was another; 
And when that change was hardly well put on, 
It varied, till I don't think his own mother 
(If that he had a mother) would her son 
Have known, he shifted so from one to t'other; 
Till guessing from a pleasure grew a task, 
At this epistolary 'Iron Mask.' 

LXXIX 

For sometimes he like Cerberus would seem — 
'Three gentlemen at once' (as sagely says 
Good Mrs. Malaprop); then you might deem 
That he was not even one; now many rays 
Were flashing round him; and now a thick steam 
Hid him from sight — like fogs on London days: 
Now Burke, now Tooke he grew to people's fancies, 
And certes often like Sir Philip Francis. 

LXXX 

I've an hypothesis — 'tis quite my own; 
I never let it out till now, for fear 
Of doing people harm about the throne, 
And injuring some minister or peer, 
On whom the stigma might perhaps be blown; 
It is — my gentle public, lend thine ear! 
'Tis, that what Junius we are wont to call 
Was really, truly, nobody at all. 

LXXXI 

I don't see wherefore letters should not be 
Written without hands, since we daily view 
Them written without heads; and books, we see, 
Are fill'd as well without the latter too: 
And really till we fix on somebody 
For certain sure to claim them as his due, 
Their author, like the Niger's mouth, will bother 
The world to say if there be mouth or author. 

LXXXII 

'And who and what art thou?' the Archangel said. 
'For that you may consult my title-page,' 
Replied this mighty shadow of a shade: 
'If I have kept my secret half an age, 
I scarce shall tell it now.' — 'Canst thou upbraid,' 
Continued Michael, 'George Rex, or allege 
Aught further?' Junius answer'd, 'You had better 
First ask him for his answer to my letter: 

LXXXIII 

'My charges upon record will outlast 
The brass of both his epitaph and tomb.' 
'Repent'st thou not,' said Michael, 'of some past 
Exaggeration? something which may doom 
Thyself if false, as him if true? Thou wast 
Too bitter — is it not so? — in thy gloom 
Of passion?' — 'Passion!' cried the phantom dim, 
'I loved my country, and I hated him. 

LXXXIV 

'What I have written, I have written: let 
The rest be on his head or mine!' So spoke 
Old 'Nominis Umbra'; and while speaking yet, 
Away he melted in celestial smoke. 
Then Satan said to Michael, 'Don't forget 
To call George Washington, and John Horne Tooke, 
And Franklin;' — but at this time was heard 
A cry for room, though not a phantom stirr'd. 

LXXXV 

At length with jostling, elbowing, and the aid 
Of cherubim appointed to that post, 
The devil Asmodeus to the circle made 
His way, and look'd as if his journey cost 
Some trouble. When his burden down he laid, 
'What's this?' cried Michael; 'why, 'tis not a ghost?' 
'I know it,' quoth the incubus; 'but he 
Shall be one, if you leave the affair to me. 

LXXXVI

'Confound the renegado! I have sprain'd 
My left wing, he's so heavy; one would think 
Some of his works about his neck were chain'd. 
But to the point; while hovering o'er the brink 
Of Skiddaw (where as usual it still rain'd), 
I saw a taper, far below me, wink, 
And stooping, caught this fellow at a libel — 
No less on history than the Holy Bible. 

LXXXVII 

'The former is the devil's scripture, and 
The latter yours, good Michael: so the affair 
Belongs to all of us, you understand. 
I snatch'd him up just as you see him there, 
And brought him off for sentence out of hand: 
I've scarcely been ten minutes in the air — 
At least a quarter it can hardly be: 
I dare say that his wife is still at tea.' 

LXXXVIII 

Here Satan said, 'I know this man of old, 
And have expected him for some time here; 
A sillier fellow you will scarce behold, 
Or more conceited in his petty sphere: 
But surely it was not worth while to fold 
Such trash below your wing, Asmodeus dear: 
We had the poor wretch safe (without being bored 
With carriage) coming of his own accord. 

LXXXIX 

'But since he's here, let's see what he has done.' 
'Done!' cried Asmodeus, 'he anticipates 
The very business you are now upon, 
And scribbles as if head clerk to the Fates, 
Who knows to what his ribaldry may run, 
When such an ass as this, like Balaam's, prates?' 
'Let's hear,' quoth Michael, 'what he has to say; 
You know we're bound to that in every way.' 

XC 

Now the bard, glad to get an audience which 
By no means oft was his case below, 
Began to cough, and hawk, and hem, and pitch 
His voice into that awful note of woe 
To all unhappy hearers within reach 
Of poets when the tide of rhyme's in flow; 
But stuck fast with his first hexameter, 
Not one of all whose gouty feet would stir. 

XCI 

But ere the spavin'd dactyls could be spurr'd 
Into recitative, in great dismay 
Both cherubim and seraphim were heard 
To murmur loudly through their long array: 
And Michael rose ere he could get a word 
Of all his founder'd verses under way. 
And cried, 'For God's sake stop, my friend! 'twere best — 
Non Di, non homines —- you know the rest.' 

XCII 

A general bustle spread throughout the throng. 
Which seem'd to hold all verse in detestation; 
The angels had of course enough of song 
When upon service; and the generation 
Of ghosts had heard too much in life, not long 
Before, to profit by a new occasion; 
The monarch, mute till then, exclaim'd, 'What! What! 
Pye come again? No more — no more of that!' 

XCIII 

The tumult grew; an universal cough 
Convulsed the skies, as during a debate 
When Castlereagh has been up long enough 
(Before he was first minister of state, 
I mean — the slaves hear now); some cried 'off, off!' 
As at a farce; till, grown quite desperate, 
The bard Saint Peter pray'd to interpose 
(Himself an author) only for his prose. 

XCIV 

The varlet was not an ill-favour'd knave; 
A good deal like a vulture in the face, 
With a hook nose and a hawk'd eye, which gave 
A smart and sharper-looking sort of grace 
To his whole aspect, which, though rather grave, 
Was by no means so ugly as his case; 
But that, indeed, was hopeless as can be, 
Quite a poetic felony, 'de se.' 

XCV 

Then Michael blew his trump, and still'd the noise 
With one still greater, as is yet the mode 
On earth besides; except some grumbling voice, 
Which now and then will make a slight inroad 
Upon decorous silence, few will twice 
Lift up their lungs when fairly overcrow'd; 
And now the bard could plead his own bad cause, 
With all the attitudes of self-applause. 

XCVI 

He said — (I only give the heads) — he said, 
He meant no harm in scribbling; 'twas his way 
Upon all topics; 'twas, besides, his bread, 
Of which he butter'd both sides; 'twould delay 
Too long the assembly (he was pleased to dread), 
And take up rather more time than a day, 
To name his works — he would but cite a few — 
'Wat Tyler' — 'Rhymes on Blenheim' — 'Waterloo.' 

XCVII 

He had written praises of a regicide: 
He had written praises of all kings whatever; 
He had written for republics far and wide; 
And then against them bitterer than ever; 
For pantisocracy he once had cried 
Aloud, a scheme less moral than 'twas clever; 
Then grew a hearty anti-Jacobin — 
Had turn'd his coat — and would have turn'd his skin. 

XCVIII 

He had sung against all battles, and again 
In their high praise and glory; he had call'd 
Reviewing (1)'the ungentle craft,' and then 
Become as base a critic as e'er crawl'd — 
Fed, paid, and pamper'd by the very men 
By whom his muse and morals had been maul'd: 
He had written much blank verse, and blanker prose, 
And more of both than anybody knows. 

XCIX 

He had written Wesley's life: — here turning round 
To Satan, 'Sir, I'm ready to write yours, 
In two octavo volumes, nicely bound, 
With notes and preface, all that most allures 
The pious purchaser; and there's no ground 
For fear, for I can choose my own reviews: 
So let me have the proper documents, 
That I may add you to my other saints.' 

C 

Satan bow'd, and was silent. 'Well, if you, 
With amiable modesty, decline 
My offer, what says Michael? There are few 
Whose memoirs could be render'd more divine. 
Mine is a pen of all work; not so new 
As it once was, but I would make you shine 
Like your own trumpet. By the way, my own 
Has more of brass in it, and is as well blown. 

CI 

'But talking about trumpets, here's my Vision! 
Now you shall judge, all people; yes, you shall 
Judge with my judgment, and by my decision 
Be guided who shall enter heaven or fall. 
I settle all these things by intuition, 
Times present, past, to come, heaven, hell, and all, 
Like King Alfonso(2). When I thus see double, 
I save the Deity some worlds of trouble.' 

CII 

He ceased, and drew forth an MS.; and no 
Persuasion on the part of devils, saints, 
Or angels, now could stop the torrent; so 
He read the first three lines of the contents; 
But at the fourth, the whole spiritual show 
Had vanish'd, with variety of scents, 
Ambrosial and sulphureous, as they sprang, 
Like lightning, off from his 'melodious twang.' (3)

CIII 

Those grand heroics acted as a spell: 
The angels stopp'd their ears and plied their pinions; 
The devils ran howling, deafen'd, down to hell; 
The ghosts fled, gibbering, for their own dominions — 
(For 'tis not yet decided where they dwell, 
And I leave every man to his opinions); 
Michael took refuge in his trump — but, lo! 
His teeth were set on edge, he could not blow! 

CIV 

Saint Peter, who has hitherto been known 
For an impetuous saint, upraised his keys, 
And at the fifth line knock'd the poet down; 
Who fell like Phaeton, but more at ease, 
Into his lake, for there he did not drown; 
A different web being by the Destinies 
Woven for the Laureate's final wreath, whene'er 
Reform shall happen either here or there. 

CV 

He first sank to the bottom - like his works, 
But soon rose to the surface — like himself; 
For all corrupted things are bouy'd like corks,(4) 
By their own rottenness, light as an elf, 
Or wisp that flits o'er a morass: he lurks, 
It may be, still, like dull books on a shelf, 
In his own den, to scrawl some 'Life' or 'Vision,' 
As Welborn says — 'the devil turn'd precisian.' 

CVI 

As for the rest, to come to the conclusion 
Of this true dream, the telescope is gone 
Which kept my optics free from all delusion, 
And show'd me what I in my turn have shown; 
All I saw farther, in the last confusion, 
Was, that King George slipp'd into heaven for one; 
And when the tumult dwindled to a calm, 
I left him practising the hundredth psalm. 




Notes

The first publication of this satire on Southey's poem A Vision of Judgement was under the nom de plume of Quevedo Redivivus in volume number 1 of The Liberal, a periodical edited by Leigh Hunt and largely financed by Byron. In the copy of the first volume of The Liberal that I have (which appears to be a first edition), there is no preamble but it does appear in later collections and so I have included it for completeness.

Also for the sake of completeness, I have included several footnotes that appear in The Liberal but that do not seem to have been carried forward to subsequent collections.

1. See "Life of H Kirk White"

2. King Alfonso, speaking of the Ptolomean system said, that "had he been consulted at the creation of the world, he would have spared the Maker some absurdities."

3. See Aubrey's account of the apparition which disappeared "with a curious perfume and a melodious twang;" or see the Antiquary, Vol. I.

4. A drowned body lies at the body till rotten; it then floats, as most people know.