From Age of Bronze

by Lord Byron (1823)

But where is now the goodly audit ale?
The purse-proud tenant, never known to fail?
The farm which never yet was left on hand?
The marsh reclaim’d to most improving land?
The impatient hope of the expiring lease?
The doubling rental? What an evil’s peace!
In vain the prize excites the ploughman’s skill
In vain the Commons pass their patriot Bill;
The Landed Interest — (you may understand
The phrase much better leaving out the Land) —
The land self-interest groans from shore to shore,
for fear that plenty should attain the poor.
Up, up again, ye rents! exalt your notes,
Or else the ministry will lose their votes,
And patriotism, so delicately nice,
Her loaves will lower to the market price….

Safe in their barns, these Sabine tillers sent
Their brethren out to battle — why? for rent!
Year after year they voted cent. per cent.,
Blood, sweat, and tear-wrung millions — why?  for rent!
They roar’d, they dined, they drank, they swore they meant
To die for England — why then live? — for rent!
The peace has made one general malcontent
Of these high-market patriots; war was rent!
Their love of country, millions all misspent,
How reconcile?  by reconciling rent!
And will they not repay the treasures lent?
No: down with everything, and up with rent!
Their good, ill, health, wealth, joy, or discontent,
Being, end, aim, religion — rent, rent, rent !
Thou sold’st thy birthright, Esau!  for a mess;
Thou shouldst have gotten more, or eaten less….

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