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Untitled (Epitaph for Lord Castlereagh) -- George Gordon, Lord Byron

Guest poem sent in by Suresh Ramasubramanian
(Poem #1123) Untitled (Epitaph for Lord Castlereagh)
 Posterity will ne'er survey
 A nobler scene than this.
 Here lie the bones of Castlereagh.
 Stop traveller, and piss.
-- George Gordon, Lord Byron
I was reminded of this when I saw it in a usenet post by my good friend
Shakib Otaqui.

Byron sounds off about one of the most unpopular and reviled politicians
of his era - a man who was forced to resign and spent the last fifteen
years of his life a mental wreck before he committed suicide by cutting
himself with a penknife.

If you want to rest in peace, never piss off a poet, is all I can say
about the poem.

Profile of Lord Castlereagh -
[broken link] http://proni.nics.gov.uk/records/private/castlere.htm

Castlereagh also had to face the wrath of Shelley, who wrote "The Mask
of Anarchy", blaming the massacre at St.Peters Fields on Lord
Castlereagh and his fellow minister Lord Sidmouth.

That is almost biblical, and (I think) compares Castlereagh and Sidmouth
to an evil version of the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

However, it is, unfortunately, a bit too long for minstrels, weighing in
at a whole 91 stanzas (plus a couple more, given different manuscripts /
editions of this grand poem).

Anyway, it is available online at
[broken link] http://www.english.upenn.edu/~jlynch/FrankenDemo/PShelley/anarchy.html

        srs

[Martin adds: The last line seems like a parody of Wordsworth's "Stop here,
or gently pass", from 'The Solitary Reaper'. Byron's sarcasm is a touch
heavy-handed, but, as always, a fun read - he certainly has a much better
ear than the oft-reviled (at least here on Minstrels <g>) Shelley, whose
'Mask of Anarchy' made me wince with the sheer dysphony and clumsiness of
the verse. I mean, the man rhymed "Italy" with "sea"! In the first two
lines, no less!! Sorry, I'll stop now (:]

87 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

mad said...

"Shelley, whose 'Mask of Anarchy' made me wince with the sheer dysphony and
clumsiness of the verse. I mean, the man rhymed "Italy" with "sea"! In the
first two lines, no less!! Sorry, I'll stop now (:"

In fairness to our good friend Shelley, 'Mask of Anarchy' wasn't the only
poem he wrote on the subject.

To Sidmouth and Castlereagh

As from their ancestral oak
Two empty ravens wind their clarion,
Yell by yell, and croak by croak,
When they scent the noonday smoke
Of fresh human carrion:--

As two gibbering night-birds flit
From their bowers of deadly yew
Through the night to frighten it--
When the moon is in a fit,
And the stars are none, or few:--

As a shark and dogfish wait
Under an Atlantic isle
For the Negro-ship, whose freight
Is the theme of their debate,
Wrinkling their red gills the while--

Are ye--two vultures sick for battle,
Two scorpions under one wet stone,
Two bloodless wolves whose dry throats rattle,
Two crows perched on the murrained cattle,
Two vipers tangled into one.

Some of the most vivid imagery around can be found in this poem,
especially the last lines. Though I'm not particularly fond of Shelley, a
somewhat better than "Mask of Anarchy', no? :-)

Actually, I rather like this poem, why don't I send this as a submission
instead of a comment?

Cheers,

-Daniel

P.S. Always good to see that Rice alumni are improving the world! (Class
of 2002)

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