Saturday, September 27, 2014

Shelley's Call To Freedom

To listen to Percy Bysshe Shelley's "The Call To Freedom" in David Prashker's setting for guitar and voice, click here.

To see the video click here.

Shelley wrote "The Call To Freedom" in 1819, in the wake of the Napoleonic Wars that followed the French revolution. The most radical thinker of his day, he died tragically in 1822, when his sailing boat the "Don Juan" (named for his friend Lord Byron, who was accompanying him in his own boat) went down in a storm in the Gulf of Spezia, in Italy.

The setting for guitar is mine, with the final line, the key line of the song, repeated as a chorus.

Percy Bysshe Shelley, The Call to Freedom (1819)

From the workhouse and the prison
Where pale as corpses newly risen,
Women, children, young and old
Groan for pain, and weep for cold -

From the haunts of daily life
Where is waged the daily strife
With common wants and common cares
Which sows the human heart with tares -

Lastly from the palaces
Where the murmur of distress
Echoes, like the distant sound
Of a wind alive around

Those prison halls of wealth and fashion
Where some few feel such compassion
For those who groan, and toil, and wail
As must make their brethren pale -

Ye who suffer woes untold,
Or to feel, or to be behold
Your lost country bought and sold
With a price of blood and gold -

Let a vast assembly be,
And with great solemnity
Declare with measured words that ye
Are, as God has made ye, free -

And these words shall then become
Like Oppression's thunder doom
Ringing through each heart and brain,
Heard again - again - again

Rise like Lions after slumber
In unvanquishable number -
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep had fallen on you -

Ye are many - they are few.

Copyright © 2014 David Prashker
All rights reserved.
The Argaman Press

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