Song To the Men of England
~Percy Bysshe Shelley
Men of England, wherefore plough
For the lords who lay ye low?
Wherefore weave with toil and care
The rich robes your tyrants wear?
Wherefore feed and clothe and save,
From the cradle to the grave,
Those ungrateful drones who would
Drain your sweat -nay, drink your blood?

Wherefore, Bees of England, forge
Many a weapon, chain, and scourge,
That these stingless drones may spoil
The forced produce of your toil?

Have ye leisure, comfort, calm,
Shelter, food, love's gentle balm?
Or what is it ye buy so dear
With your pain and with your fear?

The seed ye sow another reaps;
The wealth ye find another keeps;
The robes ye weave another wears;
The arms ye forge another bears.

Sow seed, -but let no tyrant reap;
Find wealth, -let no imposter heap;
Weave robes, -let not the idle wear;
Forge arms, in your defence to bear.

Shrink to your cellars, holes, and cells;
In halls ye deck another dwells.
Why shake the chains ye wrought? Ye see
The steel ye tempered glance on ye.

With plough and spade and hoe and loom,
Trace your grave, and build your tomb,
And weave your winding-sheet, till fair
England be your sepulchre!
Song to a Man of England
~anonymous English peasant
Man of letters, wherefore write?
Wherefore speak if ye won’t fight?
Wherefore ye command of me
What thou doth not know or see?
Whilst mine people are oppressed,
Thou art one oppressor best!
As we so toil in the field
Parchment and ink is all ye wield.
As ye pose a friend to me,
Your po’m I should never see.
For thine book I could not spare
A mere shilling of its fare.
Have ye leisure, comfort, calm?
Say so or be struck with qualm!
Ye have food and book to read;
All we have is sour mead.
Nay, says I, thou art not friend.
Thou art villain in the end.
Thank thee not for thine advice.
Thou sells books whilst I have lice.
Even if ye dost speak truth,
For us ye wouldst not give a tooth.
Do not meddle with our minds.
Thou wilt not like what thou finds!
Shrink ye to your comfort lair.
Surely ye don’t really care.
Grace us not with your wise words.
They mean naught and fall like turds.
Go ye forth, and earn your wealth
Whilst I and mine lose our health.
Hope your poèm makes ye rich
Ye yellow son-of-a-shrew!

*written as an assignment for Dr. Taylor's English class at Penncrest High School - an excellent class taught by an excellent teacher. Thank you. If memory serves me correctly, the assignment was to write a poem in the style of one of a handful of poems we had studied in class. No need to explain which poem I chose...