Us and Them
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Peterloo monument, Manchester

A golden shovel based on the final stanza of The Mask of Anarchy by Percy Bysshe Shelley.


Hold us down but still we rise,
deference dies, we bite them down to size. Like
Jayaben roars, we are the lions,
Mr Manager, you'll do no more damage after
we've dealt with you. Stretching from slumber,

Flexing our muscle, exercising our minds, in
readiness for when they find that they are not unvanquishable
as they thought. They bought power but we have number.

We create their wealth, we can make them shake,
for it is only when you do not move your-
self that you do not notice your chains,
as Rosa said. And to any who deigns to
say we ask too much: we only want the earth,
said James. When we see the birth of a new world like
waking at dawn, the last thing we'll notice is the dew.

They'll be left to defend the theft-gotten gains on which
their rotten riches depend to warm their nest, reliant in
their rested assurance that while we sleep
we are not defiant, so deep had
sunk the memory of the cast of the fallen
who tell their story and pass the baton forward, on
to us, to make it happen, to me and you.

From the struggles that dug the graves of the slavers, ye
olde verse from Percy still resounds; there are
thousands of us for each one of them: many
millions more lions than vultures. They
hoard, they indulge, they have more than their due, they are
parasites, they are cruel, but they are few.