Home > Uncategorized > Edwin Arnold: My chariot shall not roll with bloody wheels till earth wears the red record of my name

Edwin Arnold: My chariot shall not roll with bloody wheels till earth wears the red record of my name

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Edwin Arnold: Heaven’s love descending in that loveliest word, PEACE!

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Edwin Arnold
From The Light of Asia (1879)

The blue doves cooed from every well, far off
The village drums beat for some marriage-feast;
All things spoke peace and plenty, and the Prince
Saw and rejoiced. But, looking deep, he saw
The thorns which grow upon this rose of life:
How the swart peasant sweated for his wage,
Toiling for leave to live; and how he urged
The great-eyed oxen through the flaming hours,
Goading their velvet flanks: then marked he, too,
How lizard fed on ant, and snake on him,
And kite on both; and how the fish-hawk robbed
The fish-tiger of that which it had seized;
The shrike chasing the bulbul, which did chase
The jewelled butterflies: till everywhere
Each slew a slayer and in turn was slain,
Life living upon death. So the fair show
Veiled one vast, savage, grim conspiracy
Of mutual murder, from the worm to man,
Who himself kills his fellow; seeing which -
The hungry ploughman and his laboring kine,
Their dewlaps blistered with the bitter yoke,
The rage to live which makes all living strife -
The Prince Siddârtha sighed. “Is this,” he said,
“That happy earth they brought me forth to see?
How salt with sweat the peasant’s bread! how hard
The oxen’s service! in the brake how fierce
The war of weak and strong! i’ th’ air what plots!
No refuge e’en in water. Go aside
A space, and let me muse on what ye show.”

*****

“…I will not have that crown
Which may be mine: I lay aside those realms
Which wait the gleaming of my naked sword:
My chariot shall not roll with bloody wheels
From victory to victory, till earth
Wears the red record of my name.”

*****

“Pity and need
Make all flesh kin. There is no caste in blood,
Which runneth of one hue, nor caste in tears,
Which trickle salt with all; neither comes man
To birth with tilka-mark stamped on the brow,
Nor sacred thread on neck. Who doth right deeds
Is twice-born, and who doeth ill deeds vile…”

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