To tyrants leave their swords.
With slaves to wield them, too;
There lives a spirit still in words
No tyrant can subdue.
So with the sophist brawls,
And challenge to debate
Hired talent in corruption’s halls –
Whose flat is your fate.
With mind let mind engage,
Let truth with falsehood fight,
Clothe not in burning zeal nor rage
But panoply of light.
One high and moral tone,
Nor dissolute nor wild,
Will make oppression on his throne
Yield like a master’d child.


Author:Charles Cole

Publication:Preston Guardian

Published in:

Date:October 4th 1862

Keywords:politics, war


This poem recited by Charles Cole in Blackburn refers to the Italian Risorgimento – the unification of Italy into a single political entity, which was finally achieved after many years of struggle in 1861. The point being made here is that though Giuseppe Garibaldi (1807-82) was an Italian general, his main contribution to a successful resolution was diplomatic, and that the power of the word always supersedes the power of the sword. Of course, and especially given the reference to ‘slaves’ in the second line, the subtext here is the American Civil War, by this time well on its way to being the bloodiest war in history. – SR