The following pro-democracy poem was written by someone writing under the pseudonym of Tyrtaeus (in emulation of the ancient Spartan poet who, according to Encyclopaedia Britannica, stirring poetry on military themes during the 7th century B.C.). It was published in Reynolds’s Political Instructor on 19 January 1850 and has been transcribed by Stephen Basdeo.
A Democratic Lyric
Year followeth year, in ceaseless train,
Another just hath flown;
And still we seek redress in vain,
Still ‘neath our burdens groan;–
Still labour on from morn till eve
For pittance bare;—and what receive
When youth and strength are gone?
The stinted dole—the pauper brand
Poor aliens in our native land!
Think not, ye men of lust and spoil,
These things may long remain;–
Our’s the ne’er-ending sweat and toil,
And thine the hard-earned gain,
That we shall, in by-corners laid,
Starve ‘midst the wealth ourselves have made,
Or beg in piteous strain
For the mere scraps from off the board
Which we have with its plenty stored:
That ragged, shoeless, in the mire,
Or ‘neath the wintry sky,
Wrung by the thoughts our wrongs inspire,
In vain shall be our cry!
In purple and fine linen clad
Though naught to you the poor and sad,
Who homeless round ye lie–
There’s One, though negatived by thee,
To whom the poor in sorrow flee.
O God! To Thee we lift our voice
With want and misery low,
Clasp our hard hands, and dare rejoice
For once: for well we know
That though Thou see’st fit to delay
The effluence of Thy perfect day,
Its gifts shall surely flow
And, to obscure Thy glorious skies,
Our torment’s smoke shall cease to rise!
Categories: 19th Century, Chartism, Democracy, poem, Poetry