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Percy Bysshe Shelley

From "Prometheus Unbound"



Thrones, altars, judgement-seats and prisons; wherein
And beside which, by wretched men were borne
Sceptres, tiaras, swords and chains, and tomes
Of reasoned wrong, glozed on by ignorance,
Were like those monstrous and barbaric shapes,
The ghosts of a no-more-remembered fame,
Which from their unworn obelisks look forth
In triumph o'er the palaces and tombs
Of those who were their conquerors, mouldering round.
These imaged to the pride of kings and priests
A dark yet mighty faith, a power as wide
As is the world it wasted, and are now
But an astonishment; even so the tools
And emblems of its last captivity,
Amid the dwellings of the peopled earth
Stand, not o'erthrown, but unregarded now.
And those foul shapes, abhorred by God and man -
Which under many a name and many a form
Strange, savage, ghastly, dark and execrable,
Were Jupiter, the tyrant of the world;
And which the nations, panic-stricken, served
With blood, and hearts broken by long hope, and love
Dragged to his altars soiled and garlandless,
And slain amid men's unreclaiming tears,
Flattering the thing they feared, which fear was hate-
Frown, mouldering fast, o'er their abandoned shrines.
The painted- veil; by those who were, called life,
Which mimicked, as with colours idly-spread,
All men believed or hoped, is torn aside -
The loathsome mask has fallen, the man remains
Sceptreless,-free, uncircumscribed - but man:
Equal, unclassed,-tribeless and nationless,
Exempt from awe, worship, degree, - the king
Over himself; just, gentle, wise - but man:
Passionless? no - yet free from guilt or pain,
Which were, for his will made or suffered them,
Nor yet exempt, though ruling them like slaves,
From chance, and death and mutability,
The clogs of that which else might oversoar
The loftiest star of unascended heaven,
Pinnacled dim in the intense inane.