In this installment, Geoffrey Brock reads “England in 1819” by Percy Bysshe Shelley. Brock is the author of Weighing Light (Ivan R. Dee, 2005) and the translator of books by Cesare Pavese, Roberto Calasso, and Umberto Eco. He has held a Wallace Stegner Fellowship, an NEA Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, and he is on the faculty of the Programs in Creative Writing and Translation at the University of Arkansas. His website is www.geoffreybrock.com.
Percy Bysshe Shelley, "England in 1819"
An old, mad, blind, despised, and dying king,—
Princes, the dregs of their dull race, who flow
Through public scorn,—mud from a muddy spring,—
Rulers who neither see, nor feel, nor know,
But leech-like to their fainting country cling,
Till they drop, blind in blood, without a blow,—
A people starved and stabbed in the untilled field.—
An army, which liberticide and prey
Makes as a two-edged sword to all who wield,—
Golden and sanguine laws which tempt and slay ;
Religion Christless, Godless—a book sealed ;
A Senate,—Time's worst statute unrepealed,—
Are graves, from which a glorious Phantom may
Burst, to illumine our tempestuous day.