This poem, Political Greatness was written by Shelly in 1821 and published in 1824. While we are worried about correctness, the sometimes despondent poet was concerned with something greater. This poem, perhaps more than some of his others, survives a classic test of time in its universality and appropriateness, today.


Nor happiness, nor majesty, nor fame, 
Nor peace, nor strength, nor skill in arms or
Shepherd those herds whom tyranny makes
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
By force or custom? Man who man would
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.

---Percy Bysshe Shelley

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