Sonnets by Iota

The Northern Star, May 9, 1840

IOTA was a Newport poet (possibly living in Goldtops, Newport) whose identity is still shrouded in mystery. 

These sonnets which were published in the Chartist newspaper “The Northern Star” were written in tribute to George Shell who died in the Newport Rising.

In the first sonnet, Iota speaks to the spirit of the Chartists in the countryside, and in the second and third sonnets, he praises Shell directly.



ONCE more I visit thee sweet rural walk,

Tis long since last I came this pleasant way,

And many a sad event hath had its day

In yonder little town since then. The talk

Of all the empire it hath been. The gay

Have laughed—the sober heaved a heart-felt sigh

When Newport hath been named. The tearful eye

Hath been its tribute-o’er the grave to pay,

Where mothers, widows, sisters, brothers wept 

O’er those who there in death untimely slept,

The fallen brave!—fall’n in a glorious cause, 

Howe’er mistaken in their way;—to gain

Their country’s liberty they strove; though slain,

Not fruitless was their fight, but worthy our applause.

Newport, Monmouthshire May 1840.

The Northern Star, May 9, 1840

The Northern Star, June 27, 1840


                             by IOTA

Even yet thou shalt not be unknown to fame—

Some future bard shall sing thy triumph, SHELL !

And all thy virtues; all thy worth shall tell.

Thy countrymen shall glory in thy name,

Thy fall reflects upon thy foes a shame

Which ages shall not wipe away. The yell

That tyranny raised o’er thy ruined frame

Hath sunk no more o’er murdered worth to swell.

Thy patriot spirit hovering o’er the land

That gave thee birth, and far too soon a grave,

In spite of aIl the tyrant’s power shall have

The joy, e’er long, to see the glorious stand

Which Walia—Scotia—England ‘s slaves can make

For Labour—Virtue–Honour—Freedom’s sake!

The Northern Star, June 27, 1840

The Northern Star, June 27, 1840



ALONG this favourite walk was wont to wend,

One of the noblest patriots of the age;

Each step I take reminds me of that friend

Of man—and victim. ‘of the tyrant’s rage.

But late he wandered o’er this pleasant way,

With heart-felt ardour for his country’s weal

And fond anticipations of the day

When England’s glory — FREEDOM, should be real.

When worth and virtuous labour should obtain

Their right untrammelled by oppression’s law;

When men no more should be the slaves of gain,

Nor infants die to fill the Moloch maw

Of despot lordlings – tyrants of the loom,

Who yearly hurl their thousands to th’ untimely tomb.

Gold-tops, May, 1840

The Northern Star, June 27, 1840.

Northern Star August 18, 1840



PEACE, plenty and content in peasant’s cot,

And closely-huddled houses of the poor,

As well as in the palace, through whose door

It is the prince, the peer, the priest’s proud lot

To tread. Strife, wrath, and rage being all forgot,

And lost in love and concord evermore.

Laws administered impartially o’er

All the land; being themselves without spot,

Or shadow of injustice. Magistrates

Extensively informed in all the laws

And men of soundest sense, free from the fear

Of man, which brings a “snare;” whom not applause

Nor scorn would move from Virtue’s stern career:

Such and superior good the patriot contemplates.

Newport, Monmouthshire.

Northern Star August 18 1840


CHARTISTS! what strive ye for? for liberty!

Most glorious strife! more noble as more hard.

‘Twas liberty inspir’d the British Bard

Who surnam’d our Britannia—”The Free!”

Byron! chiefest of poets! yes, ’twas he.

But when, oh Britons, when will you succeed?

When will the many overcome the few?

Must ye yet toil to starve, or fight or bleed?

Blood to the tree of freedom is as dew,

But it should flow from tyrants, not from you.

A victory gain’d by blood is never kept

Vow, then, that yours shall be a bloodless fight

And virtue’s eyes will shine, that long have wept.

God waits to help you, for your cause is right,

And, to succeed, you have but to UNITE!

Published in The Northern Star, April 9, 1842.

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