The Masque of Anarchy

Read by Phil Benson

(4.5 stars; 8 reviews)

The Masque of Anarchy was Shelley's response to the Peterloo massacre at St Peter's Fields, Manchester, where 18 died and hundreds were injured, after Hussars charged into a rally for parliamentary reform. Written in Italy in 1819, the poem was not published until 1832, ten years after Shelley's death. This reading is from the first published edition with the addition of three words that were inserted in full only in later additions ('Eldon' in Stanza IV and 'Bible' and 'Sidmouth' in Stanza VI). The poem is preceded by Leigh Hunt's preface to the 1932 edition and followed by Harry Buxton Forman's 1887 lecture on the poem to the Shelley Society. (Summary by Phil Benson) (1 hr 26 min)


nothing has changed in 200 years

(4.5 stars)

a beautiful poem inspired by the terrible bloody massacre enacted against the English proletariat bye oppressive national and local government tyrants. fill Bensons fluid yet understated delivery seems to give extra wait to the allegory and we can easily imagine this performance being delivered at a Manchester trade hall or market place some 200 years ago in order to gain support for the reforms that wood follow over the next ten decades. I would recommend doing some basic research on the Peterloo massacre prior to listening to the poem as this context is essential.


(5 stars)

This poem is powerful and moving. It's a call to the people and is calling out injustice and brutality. The introduction is valuable as an insight into the character of Shelley. The lecture part is useful for context, in the beginning of it, but then got rather academic and stopped it. It was useful though and I got more out of a second listen to the poem. Well done!