William Wordsworth

Helen Darbishire and Ernest De Selincourt (eds), The Poetical Works of William Wordsworth, Vol. 3: Miscellaneous Sonnets; Memorials of Various Tours; Poems to National Independence and Liberty; The Egyptian Maid; The River Duddon Series; The White Doe and Other Narrative Poems; Ecclesiastical Sonnets (Second Edition)

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Editor’s NoteVII

persecution of the scottish covenanters

[Composed?—Published 1827.]

  • 1 When Alpine Vales threw forth a suppliant cry,
  • 2The majesty of England interposed
  • 3And the sword stopped; the bleeding wounds were clos
  • pg 3884And Faith preserved her ancient purity.
  • 5How little boots that precedent of good,
  • 6Scorned or forgotten, Thou canst testify,
  • 7For England's shame, O Sister Realm! from wood,
  • 8Mountain, and moor, and crowded street, where lie
  • 9The headless martyrs of the Covenant,
  • 10Slain by Compatriot-protestants that draw
  • 11From councils senseless as intolerant
  • 12Their warrant. Bodies fall by wild sword-law;
  • 13But who would force the Soul, tilts with a straw
  • 14Against a Champion cased in adamant.

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Editor’s Note
p. 387. VII. Persecution of the Scottish Covenanters. 1–2. The reference is to the massacre of the Vaudois by the Duke of Savoy in 1655. Cromwell intervened to stop the persecution, and Milton wrote upon it his famous sonnet, "Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints", q.v.
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