Category: Poetry

Chartism and Progressive Nationalism: The Spirit of Wat Tyler

1848. The Chartists were down and despondent. Their third petition had been rejected by the government outright. What they needed was a new sense of purpose and, perhaps, a “Tyler” to speak to them.

To the Man Who Betrayed a Woman to her Foes (1832) | Victor Hugo

The Political notions of the poet must not be judged by this Song. In condemning the conduct of an individual, who betrayed a woman to her enemies, he does not vituperate the subsequent measures which were necessarily adopted with regard to that noble personage: he simply anathematizes the name of a wretch, whose heart, devoid of all kind feelings of gratitude—of respect—and of pity, was corrupted by gold, and rendered subservient to the designs of his employers.

Poland (1833) | Victor Hugo

Victor Hugo’s poem ‘Poland’ was originally written in 1833 and published in Les Chants des Crepuscules. It was later translated into English by George W.M. Reynolds in Songs of Twilight (1836), which has recently been published as a single volume, transcribed by Stephen Basdeo.

New Edition of Victor Hugo’s Songs of Twilight | Stephen Basdeo and Jessica Elizabeth Thomas

In this book, therefore—small though it be when compared with the vast magnitude of its subject—there are a thousand discrepancies—lustre and obscurity, which pervade all we see, and all we conceive in this age of twilight, which envelope our political theories, our religious opinions, our domestic life, and which are even discovered in the histories we write of others, as well as in those of ourselves.