Sonnet XII: I did but Prompt the Age to Quit their Clogs
by John Milton
I did but prompt the age to quit their clogs
By the known rules of ancient liberty,
When straight a barbarous noise environs me
Of owls and cuckoos, asses, apes and dogs:
As when those hinds that were transform'd to frogs
Rail'd at Latona's twin-born progeny
Which after held the sun and moon in fee.
But this is got by casting pearl to hogs,
That bawl for freedom in their senseless mood,
And still revolt when truth would set them free.
Licence they mean when they cry liberty;
For who loves that, must first be wise and good.
But from that mark how far they rove we see,
For all this waste of wealth and loss of blood.
He may have been a bit of a prig and more than a little self-righteous, (I don't know - I never met the man), but John was certainly no dummy. His assessment of the "human condition" seems spot on now, just as it was centuries ago, and will probably continue to be, as long as there continue to be humans.