Percy Bysshe Shelley was born on August 4, 1792 to the extremely conventional Sir Timothy, who, being a man of influence, no doubt wanted his first born son to follow in his footsteps (Richards 671). Shelley, however, had much less conformist views, and was even "ragged" at Eton for expressing such (Matthews 196). He did not care to learn what his "tyrants" taught, but was interested rather, in science (which was outlawed from Eton at the time), Godwin, and the French skeptics. The rebellious nature persisted as he grew older and he developed a "delight" for controversy (Matthews 195). This "delight" ultimately lead to his expulsion from Oxford because of his writing "The Necessity of Atheism." His patience for authority continued to diminish, until he eventually developed a passion.
Shelley wanted to fight tyranny, as well as slavery. His ultimate goal was to lead men to a "life of freedom, love, and apprehension of the beautiful" (Richards 672). Shelley felt that repression exist because mankind instituted and tolerated it (Matthews 200). He believed that "Mankind only had to will that there should be no evil, and there would be none" (Ford 161). This idealistic view of the world is evident in the majority of Shelley's literary works.
In 1819, Shelley wrote "Song to the Men of England" (Editors 610). This poem was written for the same purpose as many of his others: to urge the working class of Great Britain to rebel. The imagery of a bee hive is evident throughout this piece. In stanza II, for instance, the "tyrants" are referred to as "Those ungrateful drones who would / Drain [the] sweat - nay, drink [the] blood." In stanza III, a reference is made to the working class as the "Base of England." The metaphor is picked up again in stanza VII, when Shelley orders the "Men of England" to "shrink to [their]...cells" (Editors 611).
The most rebellion-inspiring lines are found in stanza VI:
Sow seed - but let no tyrant reap;