Verse > Oscar Wilde > Poems

Oscar Wilde (1854–1900).  Poems.  1881.

7. Quantum Mutata

THERE was a time in Europe long ago 
  When no man died for freedom anywhere, 
  But England’s lion leaping from its lair 
Laid hands on the oppressor! it was so 
While England could a great Republic show.         5
  Witness the men of Piedmont, chiefest care 
  Of Cromwell, when with impotent despair 
The Pontiff in his painted portico 
Trembled before our stern ambassadors. 
  How comes it then that from such high estate  10
  We have thus fallen, save that Luxury 
With barren merchandise piles up the gate 
Where nobler thoughts and deeds should enter by: 
  Else might we still be Milton’s heritors. 



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