20 February 2014

A Beast of Muddy Brain

Tommaso Campanella (1568-1639), "The People," The Sonnets of Michael Angelo Buonarroti and Tommaso Campanella, tr. John Addington Symonds (London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1878), p. 143:
The people is a beast of muddy brain,
    That knows not its own force, and therefore stands
    Loaded with wood and stone; the powerless hands
    Of a mere child guide it with bit and rein:
One kick would be enough to break the chain;
    But the beast fears, and what the child demands,
    It does; nor its own terror understands.
    Confused and stupefied by bugbears vain.
Most wonderful! with its own hand it ties
    And gags itself — gives itself death and war
    For pence doled out by kings from its own store.
Its own are all things between earth and heaven;
    But this it knows not; and if one arise
    To tell this truth, it kills him unforgiven.