Saturday, 24 December 2016

24th December 1816: 'Song for the Luddites' by Lord Byron

On Tuesday 24th December 1816, Lord Byron was in Venice, Italy. In a long letter to his friend, the Irish poet Thomas Moore (which can be read in full here), he inserted a spontaneously-composed poem, which has been subsequently called "Song for the Luddites". The poem was unpublished during his lifetime.
... Are you not near the Luddites? By the Lord! If there's a row, but I'll be among ye! How go on the weavers—the breakers of frames—the Lutherans of politics—the reformers? 
As the Liberty lads o'er the sea
Bought their freedom, and cheaply, with blood,
So we, boys, we
Will die fighting, or live free,
And down with all kings but King Ludd! 
When the web that we weave is complete,
And the shuttle exchanged for the sword,
We will fling the winding-sheet
O'er the despot at our feet,
And dye it deep in the gore he has pour'd. 
Though black as his heart its hue,
Since his veins are corrupted to mud,
Yet this is the dew
Which the tree shall renew
Of Liberty, planted by Ludd! 
There's an amiable chanson for you—all impromptu. I have written it principally to shock your neighbour * * , who is all clergy and loyalty—mirth and innocence—milk and water...

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