Sonnet: Political Greatness
Published by Mrs. Shelley, "Posthumous Poems", 1824. There is a transcript, headed "Sonnet to the Republic of Benevento", in the Harvard manuscript book.
Nor happiness, nor majesty, nor fame, Nor peace, nor strength, nor skill in arms or arts, Shepherd those herds whom tyranny makes tame; Verse echoes not one beating of their hearts, History is but the shadow of their shame, Art veils her glass, or from the pageant starts As to oblivion their blind millions fleet, Staining that Heaven with obscene imagery Of their own likeness. What are numbers knit By force or custom? Man who man would be, Must rule the empire of himself; in it Must be supreme, establishing his throne On vanquished will, quelling the anarchy Of hopes and fears, being himself alone.