rise like lions after slumber - Percy Bysse Shelley
“Sir, as chairman of the select committee of magistrates, I request you to proceed immediately to no. 6 Mount Street, where the magistrates are assembled. They consider the Civil Power wholly inadequate to preserve the peace. I have the honour, & c. Wm. Hulton.” — Letter sent by William Hulton to Major Trafford of the Manchester and Salford Yeomanry Cavalry
Shelley wrote Mask of Anarchy after the Peterloo Massacre, a fierce critique of police violence on peaceful protestors who gathered for a political meeting. The last verse of the poem has becoming a battlecry for people’s movements. In fact it has been oft quoted in Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign. Ben Okri, the magic realist writer, and a friend of Corbyn talks of its power, and importance in the context of social inequality and people’s movements.
“. . . I think there are some poems that ought to be, like you know those rock concerts, and the musician starts to sing and the whole audience knows the lines? And sings along with them? Well this ought to be one of those, and I’d like to propose that we somehow make it so that anytime someone starts with the word ‘Rise’, you know exactly what the lines are going to be.”
It is the new year. the heart is young. I write this in the hope that we will rise again. in solidarity with the revolution. There are police massacres taking place across the country, but the resistance is strong.
“Ye are many, they are few”