Samuel Bamford

(1788-1872 / England)

La Lyonnaise, - Poem by Samuel Bamford

I.

Misery our cup hath filled;
Our workmen have not bread to nourish!
Their breath by cold and hunger chilled;
They faint, and at their looms do perish.
Yet they are sons of France, the noble;
For three long years their cries resounded;
Was nothing due to faith unbounded?
But, kings were listless of their trouble.
Live citizens and freemen, or perish mid your foes:
Soldiers, before the people, your colours low depose!

II.

Noble and industrious city,
Thy chiefs regard not thy complaining;
Thy traitor chiefs, remorse nor pity
That felt, when tears of thine were raining.
Unseen thy tears, unheard thy prayers;
Unto the bayonet they gave thee,
With none to succour, none to save thee;
The suff'ring thine, the guilt is theirs.
Live citizens and freemen, or perish mid your foes:
Soldiers, before the people, your colours low depose!

III.

People and soldiers, silence! silence!
In camp and crowded neighbourhood:
The boon of food—the doom of violence,
Is bread, is bread!—is blood, is blood!
You hear these words; who hath them spoken?
They are the words of your elected;
Your traitors, chosen and protected:
Then, die! or be your fetters broken.
Live citizens and freemen, or perish mid your foes:
Soldiers, before the people, your colours low depose!

IV.

Elected you those chieftains savage?
Insensible to your afflictions;
What votes have they, by bribes and ravage?
What votes have you, with all restrictions?
They scarce two hundred thousand counted;
To talk of rights is but a fable:
Uplift your heads now, whilst you're able,
No longer crouch, to be surmounted.
Live citizens and freemen, or perish mid your foes:
Soldiers, before the people, your colours low depose!

V.

The public will, in ascertaining,
Each Frenchman's voice should have expression.
Oh man! cast off thy bonds restraining;
Arise! and claim thy lost possession.
For forty years our steps were tending
Towards that noble consummation,
When lowest and the highest station
Were citizen, all orders blending.
Live citizens and freemen, or perish mid your foes:
Soldiers, before the people, your colours low depose!

VI.

Where suffrage is not universal,
There is no freedom for the nation;
The blight of tyranny doth curse all
Exceptive modes of legislation.
The wish of all should be construed,
Whate'er results from their opinion;
Free Sparta gave two kings dominion,
And kingless Venice was subdued.
Live citizens and freemen, or perish mid your foes:
Soldiers, before the people, your colours low depose!

VII.

By tame submission sacrilegious,
What fruits do Frenchmen hope to gather?
Proud deputies and laws outrageous,
To bind and keep them in a tether.
In brutish silence they would hold us,
Forbidding e'en our just complaining;
While hunger, more and more constraining,
Our reason scarcely hath controll'd us.
Live citizens and freemen, or perish mid your foes:
Soldiers, before the people, your colours low depose!

VIII.

Lo! pale with fury, Lyons trembles!
The steel is pointed, deep to wound her;
Her voice a myriad brave assembles,
And war awakes within, around her.
Five days—five horrid days of burning,
Carnage, insatiate and untiring,
Walk'd blood-shod o'er the pale expiring;
Not even at the altar turning.
Live citizens and freemen, or life with freedom lose;
Soldiers, your chiefs have slaughter'd the people as
their foes!

IX.

Are these men from a land of strangers?
These men who form the middle classes?
With fire and poniard as avengers,
Their hatred of the poor surpasses.
They are not from the Tartar regions,
For Paris Tartar chiefs respected;
But Lyons, ruin'd and dejected,
Encounter'd more vindictive legions.
Live citizens and freemen, or life with freedom lose;
Soldiers, your chiefs have slaughter'd the people as
their foes!

X.

Kill is the word; till all have perish'd—
Seven thousands fall of wrath ferocious!
From dreams of glory, fondly cherish'd,
We wake to massacre atrocious.
Those standards, which so proudly floated
When Napoleon led to glory,
With blood of Frenchmen now are gory;
No longer unto fame devoted.
Live citizens and freemen, or life with freedom lose;
Soldiers, your chiefs have slaughter'd the people as
their foes!

XI.

Of the Republic unsubdued
Be silent—speak not of its fury;
Although its track was steeped and strewed
With tears, and blood, and deep injury!
Its brave defence was ever glorious,
And back it drove the fierce invaders,
None daring to become degraders
Of a Republic so victorious.
Live citizens and freemen, or life with freedom lose;
Soldiers, your chiefs have slaughter'd the people as
their foes!

XII.

But in these days, where is the glory
By which we might have been consoled?
Not soldiers marching to victory,
Base gens d' armes have our rights controlled.
From giant splendour, how estranged!
Our accents wake but tones of sorrow;
A night is come that knows no morrow-
Pure gold to bloody bullets changed.
Live citizens and freemen, or life with freedom lose;
Soldiers, your chiefs have slaughter'd the people as
their foes!

XIII.

A wailing comes from Lyons, woeful!
France echoes by her lamentation;
Fright! horror! hatred! fierce and awful
Awaken the astonished nation.
The private orders now are ready;
All is foreseen, but nought prevented;
A tempest sweeps the discontented—
A tempest horrible and bloody;
Live citizens and freemen, or life with freedom lose;
Soldiers, your chiefs have slaughter'd the people as
their foes!

XIV.

In Paris, the heroic city,
Behold the gens d' armes quickly flying,
Alert for strife, averse to pity;
They thirst for blood, they scent the dying.
The army joins them, hesitating:
They vanquish, but the child, the mother—
They will not in that carnage smother
Those tender ones while supplicating.
Live citizens and freemen, or life with freedom lose;
Soldiers, your chiefs have slaughter'd the people as
their foes!

XV.

Alas! to their retreats they follow,
The stripling and the grandsire hoary;
The wounded, as in blood they wallow,
The wife, that weeps beside them gory!
The feeble dame, devoutly praying,
The angel virgin o'er them bending,
A few brave hearts are still defending;
An army, mercilessly slaying.
Live citizens and freemen, or life with freedom lose;
Soldiers, your chiefs have slaughter'd the people as
their foes!

XVI.

And they are slain! the tumult hush'd!
The people prison-dens encumber;
The vengeance which a king hath wish'd,
His peers will not permit to slumber.
To read, to meet, we are denied—
The oppression is beyond our bearing;
Our tyrants more and more unsparing.
To arms! be tyranny destroyed.
Live citizens and freemen, or life with freedom lose;
Soldiers, come join the people; and cursed be our foes!


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Poem Submitted: Monday, September 20, 2010



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