Thomas Hardy: The battle-god is god no more

December 17, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Thomas Hardy: Selections on war

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Thomas Hardy
The Sick God

I

In days when men had joy of war,
A God of Battles sped each mortal jar;
The peoples pledged him heart and hand,
From Israel’s land to isles afar.

II

His crimson form, with clang and chime,
Flashed on each murk and murderous meeting-time,
And kings invoked, for rape and raid,
His fearsome aid in rune and rhyme.

III

On bruise and blood-hole, scar and seam,
On blade and bolt, he flung his fulgid beam:
His haloes rayed the very gore,
And corpses wore his glory-gleam.

IV

Often an early King or Queen,
And storied hero onward, knew his sheen;
’Twas glimpsed by Wolfe, by Ney anon,
And Nelson on his blue demesne.

V

But new light spread. That god’s gold nimb
And blazon have waned dimmer and more dim;
Even his flushed form begins to fade,
Till but a shade is left of him.

VI

That modern meditation broke
His spell, that penmen’s pleadings dealt a stroke,
Say some; and some that crimes too dire
Did much to mire his crimson cloak.

VII

Yea, seeds of crescive sympathy
Were sown by those more excellent than he,
Long known, though long contemned till then –
The gods of men in amity.

VIII

Souls have grown seers, and thought out-brings
The mournful many-sidedness of things
With foes as friends, enfeebling ires
And fury-fires by gaingivings!

IX

He scarce impassions champions now;
They do and dare, but tensely – pale of brow;
And would they fain uplift the arm
Of that faint form they know not how.

X

Yet wars arise, though zest grows cold;
Wherefore, at whiles, as ’twere in ancient mould
He looms, bepatched with paint and lath;
But never hath he seemed the old!

XI

Let men rejoice, let men deplore.
The lurid Deity of heretofore
Succumbs to one of saner nod;
The Battle-god is god no more.

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Richard Furness: Selections on war

December 16, 2017 Leave a comment
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Vera Mary Brittain: August, 1914

December 15, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

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Vera Mary Brittain
August, 1914

God said, “Men have forgotten Me:
The souls that sleep shall wake again,
And blinded eyes must learn to see.”

So since redemption comes through pain
He smote the earth with chastening rod,
And brought destruction’s lurid reign;

But where His desolation trod
The people in their agony
Despairing cried, “There is no God.”

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Charles Hamilton Sorley: The blind fight the blind

December 14, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

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Charles Hamilton Sorley
To Germany

You are blind like us. Your hurt no man designed,
And no man claimed the conquest of your land.
But gropers both through fields of thought confined
We stumble and we do not understand.
You only saw your future bigly planned,
And we, the tapering paths of our own mind,
And in each other’s dearest ways we stand,
And hiss and hate. And the blind fight the blind.
When it is peace, then we may view again
With new-won eyes each other’s truer form
And wonder. Grown more loving-kind and warm
We’ll grasp firm hands and laugh at the old pain,
When it is peace. But until peace, the storm
The darkness and the thunder and the rain.
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Adela Florence Nicolson: Doubtless feasted the jackal and the kite

December 13, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

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Adela Florence Nicolson (Laurence Hope)
From Yasmini

“Doubtless, upon that western shore
With ripe fruit falling to the ground,
There dwells the Peace he hungered for,
The lovely Peace we never found.

“Then there came one with eager eyes
And keen sword, ready for the fray.
He missed the storms of Northern skies,
The reckless raid and skirmish gay!

“He rose from dreams of war’s alarms,
To make his daggers keen and bright,
Desiring, in my very arms,
The fiercer rapture of the fight!

“He left me soon; too soon, and sought
The stronger, earlier love again.
News reached me from the Cabul Court,
Afterwards nothing; doubtless slain.

“Doubtless his brilliant, haggard eyes,
Long since took leave of life and light,
And those lithe limbs I used to prize
Feasted the jackal and the kite.”

****

From Song of the Colours

Scarlet

Colour of War and Rage, of Pomp and Show,
Banners that flash, red flags that flaunt and glow,
Colour of Carnage, Glory, also Shame,
Raiment of women women may not name.

Strong am I, over strong, to eyes that tire,
In the hot hue of Rapine, Riot, Flame.
Death and Despair are black, War and Desire,
The two red cards in Life’s unequal game.

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Sarah Williams: Groaning for him they slew

December 11, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

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Sarah Williams

From “Honorably Discharged”

Many a field has been foughten
More for the fight’s own sake,
Than for the vict’ry gained, or a flag unstained.
Or for a cause at stake.

And I have seen, in the battle,
Men who were staunch and true,
Yet who turned aside when the foeman died,
Groaning for him they slew.

And, as I sit here and ponder.
Living the whole again,
I have sometimes thought.
Which is dearest bought
Victor’s or vanquished’s pain?

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From Snowdon to Vesuvius

But these men
They use not even this, their power of love;
And, after all these centuries of light,
Have still no rule of right for questions vext.
Save springing at each other’s throats like dogs.
Nay, I have known them meaner than the dogs.
Snarling and snarling, daring not to fight –
Whole nations, in their puny arrogance.
Vomiting evil words across the seas.
Until the air grew sulphurous with spite,
And cannon came to clear it.

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John Galsworthy: The war brought in ugliness

December 11, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

John Galsworthy: Selections on war

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John Galsworthy
From Swan Song

“It’s all very well,” he answered, “but our Indian friends didn’t live for four years in the trenches, or the fear thereof, for the sake of their faith. If they had, they couldn’t possibly have the feeling that it matters as much as they think it does. They might want to, but their feelers would be blunted. That’s what the war really did to us in Europe who were in the war.”

“That doesn’t make ‘faith’ any less interesting,” said Fleur, drily.

“Well, my dear, the prophets abuse us for being at loose ends, but can you have faith in a life force so darned extravagant that it makes mincemeat of you by the millions?”

****

He had come again to the Artillery Memorial; and for the second time he moved around it. No! A bit of a blot – it seemed to him, now – so literal and heavy! Would that great white thing help Consols to rise? Some thing with wings might, after all, have been preferable. Some encouragement to people to take shares or go into domestic service; help, in fact, to make life liveable, instead of reminding them all the time that they had already once been blown to perdition and might again be. Those Artillery fellows – he had read somewhere – loved their guns, and wanted to be reminded of them. But did anybody else love their guns, or want reminder? Not those Artillery fellows would look at this every day outside St. George’s Hospital, but Tom, Dick, Harry, Peter, Gladys, Joan and Marjorie. ‘Mistake!’ thought Soames; ‘and a pretty heavy one…’

***

To drive on and on, perhaps, was the thing for her. Perhaps, for all the world, now. To get away from something that couldn’t be got away from – ever since the war – driving on! When you couldn’t have what you wanted, and yet couldn’t let go; and drove, on and on, to dull the aching. Resignation – like painting – was a lost art; or so it seemed to Soames, as they passed the graveyard where he expected to be buried someday.

***

“In my belief,” he went on, desperately, “there’ll be none of this modern painting in ten years’ time – they can’t go on for ever juggling in the air. They’ll be sick of experiments by then, unless we have another war.”

“It wasn’t the war.”

“How d’you mean – not the war? The war brought in ugliness, and put everyone into a hurry. You don’t remember before the war.”

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Margaret L. Woods: The forgotten slain

December 10, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

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Margaret L. Woods
From The Lost Comrades

Far are they scattered, either lonely lying,
Or on the hard hillside among the ranks of slain;
Long on his fever-bed one has lain a-dying,
One rose up and fell with a bullet in his brain.
Patiently they’re sleeping,
And there’s no more weeping
All weeping ends when weeping is in vain.
Soon are their gravestones worn with sun and rain,
And soon are they forgotten, the young, young faces.

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Richard Furness: Whatever monster rose to mar the happiness of earth by war

December 9, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Richard Furness: Selections on war

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Richard Furness
From Midas

Midas, a Phrygian king of old,
Could by a touch turn aught to gold;
Did I possess such power, and could
Turn this or that to what I would,
Whatever monster rose to mar
The happiness of earth by war,
To stain with blood his reckless path,
To please his pride, or glut his wrath,
To raise on human woe his tyrant throne –
I’d turn that hated monster into stone.

***

Peace! thou are beautiful and blest.
War! thou art horrible. The breast
That fosters not one wish of ill,
That makes the weal of man its will;
That sees itself in every face.
Makes brethren all the human race…

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George Chapman: Peace with all her heavenly seed

December 8, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

George Chapman: Men’s want of peace, which was from want of love

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George Chapman
From The Tears of Peace

So making peace with God, doth differ far
From clerics that go with God and man to war.

***

Hate, War, and Massacre; uncrowned
Toil; And Sickness, t’ all the rest the base and
foil, Crept after; and his deadly weight, trod down
Wealth, Beauty, and the glory of a Crown.

***

Peace made us enter here secure of all;
Where, in a cave that through a rock did eat,
The monster Murther held his impious seat:
A heap of panting harts supported him,
On which he sat gnawing a reeking limb
Of some man newly murther’d.
As he ate, His grave-digg’d brows, like stormy eaves did sweat;
Which, like incensed fens, with mists did smoke;
His hide was rugged as an aged oak
With heathy leprosies; that still he fed
With hot, raw limbs, of men late murthered.
His face was like a meteor, flashing blood;
His head all bristled, like a thorny wood;
His neck cast wrinkles, like a sea enraged;
And in his vast arms was the world engaged
Bathing his hands in every cruel deed…

***

How her divine Oration did move
For th’ unredeemed loss of Human Love;
Object man’s future state to reason’s eye;
The soul’s infusion, immortality;
And prove her forms firm, that are here impress’d,
How her admired strains wrought on every breast;
And made the woods cast their immanity
Up to the air; that did to cities fly
In fuel for them; and, in clouds of smoke,
Ever hang over them; cannot be spoke;
Nor how to Human Love, to Earth now given,
A lightning stoop’d and ravish’d him to heaven,
And with him Peace with all her heavenly seed:
Whose outward Rapture made me inward bleed;
Nor can I therefore my intention keep,
Since Tears want words and words want tears to weep.

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Thomas Hardy: How long must your wroth reasonings trade on lives like these?

December 7, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Thomas Hardy: Selections on war

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Departure
(Southampton Docks: October, 1899)

While the far farewell music thins and fails,
And the broad bottoms rip the bearing brine –
All smalling slowly to the gray sea line –
And each significant red smoke-shaft pales,
Keen sense of severance everywhere prevails,
Which shapes the late long tramp of mounting men
To seeming words that ask and ask again:
“How long, O striving Teutons, Slavs, and Gaels
Must your wroth reasonings trade on lives like these,
That are as puppets in a playing hand? –
When shall the saner softer polities
Whereof we dream, have play in each proud land,
And patriotism, grown Godlike, scorn to stand
Bondslave to realms, but circle earth and seas?”
As if they knew not that they weep the while.

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John Pierpont: Not on the Battle-Field

December 6, 2017 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

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John Pierpont
Not on the Battle-Field

“To fall on the battle-field fighting for my dear country,—that would not be hard.” – The Neighbors

O no, no, – let me lie
Not on a field of battle when I die!
Let not the iron tread
Of the mad war-horse crush my helmèd head;
Nor let the reeking knife,
That I have drawn against a brother’s life,
Be in my hand when Death
Thunders along, and tramples me beneath
His heavy squadron’s heels,
Or gory felloes of his cannon’s wheels.

From such a dying bed,
Though o’er it float the stripes of white and red,
And the bald eagle brings
The clustered stars upon his wide-spread wings
To sparkle in my sight,
O, never let my spirit take her flight!

I know that beauty’s eye
Is all the brighter where gay pennants fly,
And brazen helmets dance,
And sunshine flashes on the lifted lance;
I know that bards have sung,
And people shouted till the welkin rung,
In honor of the brave
Who on the battle-field have found a grave;
I know that o’er their bones
How grateful hands piled monumental stones.
Some of those piles I’ve seen:
The one at Lexington upon the green
Where the first blood was shed,
And to my country’s independence led;
And others, on our shore,
The “Battle Monument” at Baltimore,
And that on Bunker’s Hill.
Ay, and abroad, a few more famous still;
Thy “tomb,” Themistocles,
That looks out yet upon the Grecian seas,
And which the waters kiss
That issue from the gulf of Salamis.
And thine, too, have I seen,
Thy mound of earth, Patroclus, robed in green,
That, like a natural knoll,
Sheep climb and nibble over as they stroll,
Watched by some turbaned boy,
Upon the margin of the plain of Troy.
Such honors grace the bed,
I know, whereon the warrior lays his head,
And hears, as life ebbs out,
The conquered flying, and the conqueror’s shout;
But as his eye grows dim,
What is a column or a mound to him?
What, to the parting soul,
The mellow note of bugles? What the roll
Of drums? No, let me die
Where the blue heaven bends o’er me lovingly,
And the soft summer air,
As it goes by me, stirs my thin white hair,
And from my forehead dries
The death-damp as it gathers, and the skies
Seem waiting to receive
My soul to their clear depths! Or let me leave
The world when round my bed
Wife, children, weeping friends are gatherèd,
And the calm voice of prayer
And holy hymning shall my soul prepare
To go and be at rest
With kindred spirits,- spirits who have blessed
The human brotherhood
By labors, cares, and counsels for their good.

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Thomas Pringle: After the slaughter, the feast

December 5, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

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Thomas Pringle
From African Sketches

For England hath spoken in her tyrannous mood,
And the edict is writing in African blood!

And the tiger-wolf laughs in his bone-strewed brake,
As he calls on his mate and her cubs to awake;
And the panther and leopard come leaping along;
All hymning to Hecate a festival song:
For the tumult is over, the slaughter hath ceased –
And the vulture hath bidden them all to the feast!

***

From Paraphrase of the Twenty-Third Psalm

And when amid the stumbling mountains
Through frowardness I blindly stray,
Or wander near forbidden fountains
Where the Destroyer lurks for prey,
My wayward feet again he guideth
To paths where holy Peace resideth.

***

From The Emigrants

Upon the upland height a mouldering Tower,
By time and outrage marked with many a scar,
Told of past days of feudal pomp and power
When its proud chieftains ruled the dales afar.
But that was long gone by: and waste and war,
And civil strife more ruthless still than they,
Had quenched the lustre of Glen-Lynden’s star –
Which glimmered now, with dim declining ray,
O’er this secluded spot, – sole remnant of their sway.

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James Allen: A Prayer for Peace

December 4, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

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James Allen
A Prayer for Peace

Great God, Almighty Power: Now send Thy Peace
To all the warring nations on this earth:
Let gentle thoughts spring up; pity have birth;
And Love, the mighty healer, have increase;
From anger and unworthy thoughts release
Men’s minds. Grant Thou, Our Father God, true rest
From sanguinary strife: Let there be zest
For all Thy holy works: Make wars to cease;
And brotherhood rise up with newer lease
Of power: Thy gracious spirit rule us all:
Let no ill thought on this terrestrial ball
Find an abiding place; and evil cease:
Thy great compassion show. Each one now guide
To that great peace which doth with Thee abide.

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Thomas Dekker: Lands ravaged by soldiers and war

December 3, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

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Thomas Dekker
From The Seven Deadly Sinnes of London

Antwerp (the eldest daughter of Brabant) hath falne in her pride, the Citties of rich Burgundy in theyr greatnes. Those seuenteene Dutch Virgins of Belgia, (that had Kingdomes to theyr dowries, and were worthy to be courted by Nations) are now no more Virgins : the Souldier hath deflowred them, and robd them of theyr Mayden honor: Warre hath still vse of their noble bodyes, and discouereth theyr nakednes like prostituted Strumpets. Famine hath dryed vp the fresh bloud in theyr cheekes, whilst the Pestilence digd vp theyr Fields, and turned them into Graues. Neither haue these punishments bin layd vpon them onely; for bloud hath bin also drawne of their very next neighbours. France lyes yet panting vnder the blowes which her owne Children haue giuen her.

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Edith Matilda Thomas: Air war: They are not humans.

December 2, 2017 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Edith Matilda Thomas: The Altar of Moloch

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Edith Matilda Thomas
The Dragons of the Air

There is a circle of malignant hell
Not given to the Florentine to know.
It is not hidden in the earth below,
But far aloft its fateful legions dwell.

They are not human, though from earth they rise –
They are of him, the Prince who rules the Air
The quiver of his torments on they bear –
The cities cower and fend them from the skies!

The azure and the grey of heaven they snatch
To be their banner; masked in cloud they sail,
The levin-bolts they break in murderous hail,
Up flames the palace roof, the cottage thatch.

They are not humans, they renounce their kind,
They join them with the arch-antagonist…
O world that kindly yet remains – resist!
Find means the dragons of the air to bind.

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Grenville Mellen: Slaughter rides screaming on the vengeful ball

December 1, 2017 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

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Grenville Mellen
“The lonely bugle grieves”

The trump hath blown,
And now upon that reeking hill
Slaughter rides screaming on the vengeful ball;
While with terrific signal shrill,
The vultures from their bloody eyries flown,            5
Hang o’er them like a pall.
Now deeper roll the maddening drums,
And the mingling host like ocean heaves;
While from the midst a horrid wailing comes,
And high above the fight the lonely bugle grieves!

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Richard Furness: Who wasted earth with sword and flame and murdered millions for a name

November 30, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Richard Furness: Selections on war

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Richard Furness

From Lines Written in Sight of the Rectory, Eyam

Let warrior bards the trumpet blow,
Peace reigns in these domains,
And waves her olive sceptre o’er
The lulls, the vales, and plains.

****

Peace! here no sons of glory lie,
With epitaphs of blood;
No titled madmen slumber here,
Detested by the good.
No! these were not the sons of fame,
Who wasted earth with sword and flame,
And murdered millions for a name,
To perish in the bud.

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From The Siren’s Song

Cease those soft notes! be war our strain.
Hark, hostile navies thunder,
Red slaughter strews the main,
Our tones modulate to a hideous yell
To the groans of the dying, and laughter of hell:
‘Tis glorious, they cry,
In hot battle to die.
To slaughter each other, astonishing thing!
And be buried in ocean for madman and king.

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Charles Tennant: Nor shall they learn war

November 29, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

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Charles Tennant
From The State of Man

The end of war and bloodshed for a time;
For out of Zion shall go forth the law,
And from Jerusalem the word of God,
Which, by the remnant sav’d on that great day,
Shall o’er the earth’s remotest parts be spread,
Then shall the Lord among the nations judge,
And many people he shall then rebuke:
And into plough-shares they shall beat their swords,
And into pruning hooks shall turn their spears:
Nation against nation shall not lift up
The sword, nor shall they learn war.

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Augusta Theodosia Drane: It needs must be that gentle Peace prevail!

November 28, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

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Augusta Theodosia Drane
From Imitations of Ancient English Poetry
The First Book of the Court of Sapience

“His kingdom is not one of strife and war,
His rule is all tranquillity and rest,
Because of which, his chosen titles are
The Prince of Peace, Father of Pity Blest,
Of mercy Lord and King he stands confest;
Wherefore no more shall angry words avail,
It needs must be that gentle Peace prevail!

“The chiefest praise of this fair realm and nation
Is that it smiles, a paradise of peace…”

***

“O sovereign Dominations, mighty lords,
Virtues and Powers and Principalities,
Bright ranks who stand around with gleaming awords
And all the throngs of angel hierarchies!
Your spouse, sweet Peace, is exiled; let your eyes
Weep crystal tears, for she is gone, and all
Your bright array of orders nine must fall…”

***

“O cruel Mars, thy blood ray I see,
Now may it freely shine, and all the ire
Of mighty Jove rain down in darts of fire.”

***

“Go then and fight, our forth your wind and rain,
Henceforth unbridled let your courses be,
For gentle Peace is gone who did refrain
And hold you all in sweet tranquillity.
Farewell, he fields of heaven! mine own country,
Father, farewell! They realms shall ne’er increase!”
And with that word evanished gentle Peace!

***

“For Peace is fled, and Mercy fainting lies
Forlorn and sad, who as a queen did reign:
All dreary be these fair empyreal skies
Till Peace return and Mercy rule again:
O Sapience, give thy counsel, for I fain
Mercy and Truth once more would reconcile,
And o’er the kingdom see Peace gently smile.”

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George Chapman: Men’s want of peace, which was from want of love

November 27, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

George Chapman: Peace with all her heavenly seed

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George Chapman
From The Tears of Peace

He moves all kings in this vast universe
To cast chaste nets on th’ impious lust of Mars;
See all and imitate his goodness still
That, having clear’d so well war’s outward ill,
He, god-like, still employs his firm desires
To cast learned ink upon those inward fires,
That kindle worse war in the minds of men,
Like to incense the outward war again…

***

That he was Angel to me, Star, and Fate;
Advancing colours of good hope to me;
And told me my retired age should see
Heaven’s blessing in a free and harmless life,
Conduct me, thro’ earth’s peace-pretending strife,
To that true Peace, whose search I still intend,
And to the calm shore of a loved end.
But now, as I cast round my ravish’d eye,
To see if this free soul had company,
Or that, alone, he lovingly pursued
The hidden places of my solitude;
He rent a cloud down with his burning hand
That at his back hung, ‘twixt me and a land
Never inhabited, and said: “Now, behold
What main defect it is that doth enfold
The world, in ominous flatteries of a Peace
So full of worse than war; whose stern increase
Devours her issue.” With which words, I view’d
A lady, like a deity indued,
But weeping like a woman, and made way
Out of one thicket, that saw never day,
Towards another; bearing underneath
Her arm, a coffin, for some prize of death;
And after her, in funeral form, did go
The wood’s four-footed beasts, by two and two:
A male and female match’d, of every kind;
And after them, with like instinct inclined.
The airy nation felt her sorrow’s stings;
Fell on the earth, kept rank, and hung their wings.
Which sight I much did pity and admire,
And long’d to know the dame that could inspire
Those bestials with such humane ‘form and ruth;
And how I now should know the hidden truth
(As Homer promised) of that main defect
That makes men all their inward peace reject
For name of outward; then he took my hand;
Led to her, and would make myself demand
(Though he could have resolved me) what she was,
And from what cause those strange effects had pass?
For whom she bore that coffin, and so mourn ‘d?
To all which, with all mildness, she, return ‘d
Answer, that she was Peace, sent down from heaven
With charge from th’ Almighty Deity given
T’ attend on men, who now had banish ‘d her
From their societies, and made her err
In that wild desert; only human love,
Banish ‘d in like sort, did a long time prove
That life with her; but now, alas, was dead,
And lay in that wood to be buried;
For whom she bore that coffin and did mourn;
And that those beasts were so much humane born,
That they in nature felt a love to peace;
For which they follow’d her, when when did cease.
This went so near her heart, it left her tongue;
And, silent, she gave time to note whence sprung
Men’s want of peace, which was from want of love;
And I observed now, what that peace did prove
That men made shift with and did so much please.
For now, the sun declining to the seas,
Made long misshapen shadows; and true Peace
(Here walking in his beams) cast such increase
Of shadow from her, that I saw it glide
Through cities, courts, and countries; and descried
How, in her shadow only, men there lived,
While she walk’d here i’th’ sun; and all that thrived
Hid in that shade their thrift; nought but her shade
Was bulwark ‘gainst all war that might invade
Their countries or their consciences; since Love
(That should give Peace, her substance) now they drove
Into the deserts; where he suffer’d Fate,
And whose sad funerals beasts must celebrate.
With whom I freely wish’d I had been nursed,
Because they follow nature, at their worst,
And at their best, did teach her. As we went
I felt a scruple, which I durst not vent,
No, not to Peace herself, whom it concern’d,
For fear to wrong her; so well I have learn’d
To shun injustice, even to doves or flies;
But to the Devil, or the Destinies,
Where I am just, and know I honour Truth,
I’ll speak my thoughts, in scorn of what ensueth.
Yet, not resolved in th’ other, there did shine
A beam of Homer’s freer soul in mine,
That made me see, I might propose my doubt;
Which was: if this were true Peace I found out.

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Laurence Sterne: Follow Peace

November 26, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

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Laurence Sterne
From Follow Peace

The prophet Isaiah styles Our Saviour the Prince of Peace, long before he came into the world; and to answer the title, he chose to enter into it when all nations were at peace with each other; which was in the days of Augustus, – when the temple of Janus was shut, and all the alarms of war were hushed and silenced throughout the world. At his birth, the host of heaven descended, and proclaimed peace on earth, as the best state and temper the world could be in to receive and welcome the Author of it.

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Thomas Hardy: Selections on war

November 25, 2017 Leave a comment
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Maurice Baring: The greater fools are you who seek the wars

November 24, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Maurice Baring: Unalterable horror, misery, pain and suffering which is caused by modern war

Maurice Baring: The Wounded

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Maurice Baring
From Proserpine

The Soldier

A fig for miracles! I love a lass,
I love a fight; – a fig for foolish dreams!

The Merchant

The greater fools are you who seek the wars.
Endure the hardships of the rough champaign.
And sweat and labour, buffetted and starved.
And win but festering wounds and grisly scars
For all reward, or else untimely die,
So that an idle king may loll at case
And dwell secure in rooted indolence.

***

The Soldier

We soldiers fight for glory, not for gold.
We fight because we love the clash of steel.
The shock, the charge, the bristling line of battle!
Not all the wealth of Asia buys these things.

The Merchant

Such things are sought and won by fools alone.

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Adelaide A. Procter: Let carnage cease and give us peace!

November 23, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Women writers on peace and war

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Adelaide A. Procter

From The Voice of the Wind

It has been on the field of battle,
Where the dying and wounded lie;
And it brings the last groan they uttered,
And the ravenous vulture’s cry.

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From Murmurs

An echo rings forever,
The sound can never cease;
It speaks to God of glory,
It speaks to Earth of peace.

***

No creature of God’s too lowly
To murmur peace and praise…

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From The Two Spirits

“Thy will, O God be done!
“From desolate homes is rising
One prayer, – “Let carnage cease!
On friends and foes have mercy,
O Lord, and give us peace!”

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From A Legend of Provence

War, cruel war, defaced the land, and came
So near the convent with its breath of flame,
That, seeking shelter, frightened peasants fled,
Sobbing out tales of coming fear and dread.
Till after a fierce skirmish, down the road,
One night came straggling soldiers, with their load
Of wounded, dying comrades…

 

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Anna Seward: Fierce War has wing’d the arrow that wounds my soul’s repose

November 22, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Women writers on peace and war

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Anna Seward
Song

The stormy ocean roving,
My William seeks the foe;
Ah me! the pain of loving,
To war when lovers go!

O! why my locks so yellow,
Should rosy garlands bind,
When trembles yonder willow,
As blows the sullen wind?

Ye nymphs, who feel no anguish,
My garlands gay ye wove,
But I in absence languish,
And fear for him I love.

Nor yet the sprays of willow
Shall wave my temples o’er,
But weeds, that ocean’s billow
Leaves dark upon the shore.

Pale willows suit the sorrow
The fair forsaken knows;
Fierce War has wing’d the arrow
That wounds my soul’s repose.

Sad on the beach I linger,
And watch the altering sea;
But no cold doubts shall injure,
My love is true to me!

Yet, till rest crown my pillow,
Till peace my love restore,
Be mine the weeds yon billow
Leaves dark upon the shore!

***

Address to Hope

Thou sun of the spirit, dispersing each cloud,
When the sad sense of danger my bosom would shroud,
Not Spring, as she chases the Winters loud storm,
Ever blest the chill earth with a lustre so warm.
O! how had I borne the dire thoughts of the fray,
When War’s cruel voice called my lover away,
Had’st not thou, gentle Hope, veil’d the battles’ increase,
And bent thy soft beams on the harbour of Peace!

To cheer and irradiate a bosom like mine,
Can the splendour of Glory be potent as thine?
It plays on the crest of the hero, but shews
Red traces of danger thro’ legions of foes;
It gilds e’en destruction, I know, to the brave,
But to love, what can brighten the gloom of the grave?
Then do thou draw a veil o’er the battle’s fierce gleams,
And on Safety’s dear harbour O! bend thy soft beams!

And now, gentle Hope, art thou faithful as kind,
Not false were thy fires while they shone on my mind;
My hero returns ! – the dread danger is o’er,
And, crown’d with new laurels, he speeds to the shore;
Yet to light the dim Future, sweet Hope, do not
Thro’ life let thy torch be the guard of my peace;
That still it may gild the warm day-spring of youth,
As it shone on his safety, now shine on his truth.

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Richard Furness: Death and demons laugh’d in horrid joy

November 21, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Richard Furness: Selections on war

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Richard Furness
From The Rag-Bag

While thunder brazen-mouth’d roll’d, roaring past;
Whole roods of men fell in the iron blast;
Horse in full charge rush’d onward as a flood
O’er arms, and mangled limbs, and spouting blood,
Follow’d by phalanx’d foot, in breathless haste,
O’er cities burnt and provinces laid waste…

A mother’s groans I heard, – in death she press’d
Her orphan children to her bloody breast;
But shrieks of youth, and moans of helpless age
Are disregarded in the battle’s rage.
I heard the drum with thundering strokes rebound.
Contending hosts obey’d the welcome sound,
And while the trumpet pour’d its pealing throat,
The fire-eyed charger mark’d the brazen note,
As shouts of victory rent the troubled sky,
And death and demons laugh’d in horrid joy.
Then millions wept, while joyful bells were rung,
And murder’s requiem was – “Te Deum” sung.

****

From The Astrologer

His politics extended three long miles,
Far as his mine or up the midland stiles;
With him were Whig and Tory titles vain,
Two factious packs, who hunt for public gain,
Kennel in Stephen’s, while a nation mourns –
Bark – bite the people, and themselves by turns;
Turn rabid oft, foam, wander, wild, afar,
And worry half the world in hateful war…

Rise, righteous Justice! poise thy golden scale.
And war that blasting aim of kings shall fail;
Then shall blest peace, with life and mercy crown’d,
Pour balm into the bleeding world’s wide wound…

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Leonard Merrick: Strange there weren’t more that didn’t think it a virtue to commit murder if you put on khaki

November 20, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

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Leonard Merrick
From In the Year of Our Lord 1918

Bit I read in a London paper over there said the “pre-war time, now it had passed away, seemed like an evil dream.” It didn’t seem like that to me. The “bad old days of peace,” the paper called it. Said all us boys would “find it painful to go back to business, after the great romance and glory of war.” I don’t think. I know one of them that would have given something to be back, calling “Sign,” in the bad old days of peace, while he was sticking that great romance. Made me feel funny all over to see London again at last, and look at the “civilian population that was bearing their trials with such heroic fortitude.”

***

It’s “Hope the war lasts for ever,” isn’t it? Mother couldn’t bear to go out, because of what the neighbours are saying. People with sons of their own, too. It makes me wonder who I’ve been doing it for. There’s mother – and there used to be you. Makes me wonder about lots of things, religion and that. At church, on Sunday, the collection was for teaching our Christianity to the heathen, the peaceful heathen that aren’t busy bombing one another. And nobody laughed.

Don’t make any mistake. I’m not saying England hadn’t got to fight. England had got to fight, right enough, because it ain’t a civilised world. But the parsons, and the priests, and the rabbis, and the papers could have said how horrible it was, our not having learnt any way to settle things, ever since we took to wearing clothes, except new ways of slaughtering one another. They hadn’t got to pretend war was something fine, and splendid, and improving. They hadn’t got to pretend war had changed every woman in England to a holy angel, and Englishmen were “finding their souls” by driving bayonets through other men’s bellies. England couldn’t help going to war, but England could have helped praising war. We were told, at the start, as how Armageddon had been led up to by those German writers that had “preached the devilish doctrine” that war did good. They must have had a rare job, if they preached it more than our own newspapers were preaching it before a month was up. Those of them that I saw, anyhow. If the war has been such an “ennobling influence,” if it has “purified” us all half, or a quarter as much as they keep on saying, the Kaiser must be the best benefactor England ever had. Then why don’t they put up a monument to him in Trafalgar Square?

And what did they want to put the “Great War” for on the shrines I see? I should have thought they might have found a better word for it than “great.” Ain’t “great” bringing up the kids to hold with the lie that war is an ennobling influence, like the savages do? If I had my way, I’d put the “Crudest War,” or the “Worst War” on all the shrines.

Remember how I used to hate Gus Hooper for his conscientious objector lay? Well, I’m not keen on him now – Hooper may have been a swine – but I’ve come to see that, if war is ever done away with, it will be just because the real conscientious objectors are top dog. I expect by then they won’t be called conscientious objectors, and it will sound strange to read how, in our time, there weren’t more than a few men or women that didn’t think it a virtue to commit murder if you put on khaki. Even ladies you can’t say too much for – I mean, real ladies, not our disgraceful sort, them that have been heroines, a lot of them, and worked themselves to shadows – I’ve heard more than one of them put in a good word for war, with “They say war brings out men’s best qualities.” You could hear that, under their pity for us, they approved of war. It did come on me as a shock. I used to think we were all so up-to-date, all the finished article, if you know what I mean. I don’t think anybody will look the same to me again, quite, no matter how smart they are dressed. When you look at people in the streets now, you can often fancy them as Ancient Britons, coming along naked. There’s nothing that looks quite the same. Not sunshine in the parks. You cheer up wonderful, for a minute, and then you feel as if the sunshine was camouflage, too. War won’t ever be done away with because kaisers and governments leave off wishing they could grab something that somebody else has grabbed first – it isn’t in human nature – but only because they can’t get men willing to kill, and be mangled for it. “Civilised warfare?” Might as well talk about Peaceful massacre. Why, if this bloody world of ours was civilised, there’d have been no need for England to go to war, or Belgium to go to war, or anybody else to go to war. No need for Fritz to go to war. We shouldn’t have had the Worst War at all. Bill, and his war gang would have been seized by the Germans themselves, and clapped into gaol, or a lunatic asylum, according to what the doctors said about them.

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Eliza Cook: Selections on peace and war

November 19, 2017 Leave a comment
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F. Benjamin Gage: The Sword and the Plough

November 18, 2017 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

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F. Benjamin Gage
The Sword and the Plough

Far back in time’s departed years,
Ere earth was drenched in blood and tears,
Two brothers from the father’s hearth,
Went forth to toil upon the earth;
Each with stout heart and hardy frame,
And each in search of wealth and fame:
One was the Sword with haughty brow,
The other was the humble Plough.
The Sword, the fairest of the twain,
Was reckless, cruel, dark and vain;
A daring and ambitious youth,
The foe of virtue, peace and truth.
Forth from his father’s hearth he sprang,
While far and wide his praises rang;
Yet mercy shuddered as he came,
And fled, affrighted, at his name!
Men shrank in terror from his wrath,
While cities blazed along his path!
Kingdoms into the dust he hurled,
And bound in chains a wondering world.
In every land, in every clime,
He wreathed his brow with blood and crime,
Yet still the blood-devouring Sword
Was praised, exulted and adored.
As bold, the humble Plough went forth,
But not to desolate the earth –
To counteract God’s wondrous plan,
And swell the endless woes of man;
But with the heart and hand of toil
To break the deep and fruitful soil –
To scatter wealth on every hand
And beautify and bless the land!
He made the nations thrive in peace,
And swelled their stores with rich increase;
Bound the torn heart of want and woe,
And made the land with plenty flow;
And scattered, wheresoe’er he trod,
The golden harvest-gifts of God!
Yet even then, and until now
Men have despised the humble Plough!
Thus bow the nations to adore
The wretch who stains their hearths with gore,
And thus despise the humble mind
That toils to bless the human kind;
Yet it shall not be so for “aye,”
For lo! there comes a brighter day,
When, through the darkness of the past,
The sun of Truth shall gleam at last.
Then shall the carnage-loving Sword,
So long exalted and adored,
Sink in forgetfulness and shame
Till men shall cease to know his name;
Then shall the Plough, despised so long,
Be theme for universal song:
The first of all in Honor’s van,
The noblest of the friends of man!

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Edith Matilda Thomas: The Altar of Moloch

November 17, 2017 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

Edith Matilda Thomas: Air war: They are not humans.

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Edith Matilda Thomas
The Altar of Moloch
(Balkan War)

The latest Year of our Lord hath Moloch an altar ordained,
And fed it with flesh of men and the wine of their lives hath drained!
And we sit afar and secure, and the Beauty of Peace we praise –
I am sick at my heart at the tale of the world in these blood-crimsoned days!

For the eyes of my soul see the altar that smokes to the South and the East,
Its victims the tiller of the field, the maiden, the child, and the priest;
And a savage (called Christian!), a flamen that runs with the torch and the sword,
Scoureth from village to village, serving his altar abhorred!

He hath taken his tithe of Nigrita, and Seres has rendered grim toll;
He hath plucked out the eye that was glazing, and mocked at the fluttering soul;
The cotter he sacked in his dwelling, and mangled the dead on the plain,
And sped with a ribald song the victim dishonored and slain.

Ah, ah! what burnt off’ring was there – the helpless, the aged, the weak!
Their flesh is now fallen in ashes, their spirits indignant yet speak.
Hear them, thou bright one, thou fair one, thou Greece, rearisen and strong,
And raze to the ground that altar abhorred, and avenge their great wrong!

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Thomas Hardy: Vaster battalions press for further strands to argue in the self-same bloody mode

November 16, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Thomas Hardy: Selections on war

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Thomas Hardy
Embarkation
(Southampton Docks: October, 1899)

Here, where Vespasian’s legions struck the sands,
And Cerdic with his Saxons entered in,
And Henry’s army leapt afloat to win
Convincing triumphs over neighbour lands,

Vaster battalions press for further strands,
To argue in the self-same bloody mode
Which this late age of thought, and pact, and code,
Still fails to mend. – Now deckward tramp the bands,
Yellow as autumn leaves, alive as spring;
And as each host draws out upon the sea
Beyond which lies the tragical To-be,
None dubious of the cause, none murmuring,

Wives, sisters, parents, wave white hands and smile,
As if they knew not that they weep the while.

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Stephen Spender: The War God

November 15, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Stephen Spender: Selections on war

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Stephen Spender
The War God

Why cannot the one good
Benevolent, feasible
Final dove, descend?

And the wheat be divided?
And the soldiers sent home?
And the barriers torn down?
And the enemies forgiven?
And there be no retribution?

Because the conqueror
Is the victim of his own power
Hammering his will
Out of fear of former fear:
Remembering yesterday
When those he now vanquishes
destroyed his hero-father
And surrounded his cradle
With fabled anguishes.

Today his sun of victory
Hides the night’s anxiety
Lest children of the slain
Prove dragon teeth sown
By their sun going down,
To rise up tomorrow
In sky and sea all blood
And avenge their fathers again.

Those who surrender
On the helpless field
May dream the pious reasons
Of mercy, but alas
They know what they did
In their own sun-high season.
For the world is the world
And not the slain
Nor the slayer forgive
And it writes no histories
That end in love.

Yet under the waves’
Chains chafing despair
Love’s need does not cease.

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Richard Furness: War and Love

November 14, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Richard Furness: Selections on war

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Richard Furness
War and Love

War and love went forth to fight,
War and love in all their might:
War with force, and love with wiles,
War in frowns, but love in smiles.

War aroused the world to arms;
Love, for peace displayed her charms;
War o’er all in ruin swept.
Love beheld the scene and wept.

War in flames love’s votaries bound.
Love as quick her martyrs crowned;
War prepared the bitter cup,
Love in pity drank it up.

War threw up his bolts ‘gainst heaven:
Love entreated – war’s forgiven;
War ungrateful rages still.
Love o’erburdened bears the ill.

War to dread collision came.
Love stood trenched in scathless flame;
War had swords, but love had darts:
War struck heads, but love struck hearts.

War struck high, but love stooped low:
War felt love’s celestial blow;
War had wounds, but love had none:
War expired and love had won.

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Isabella Valancy Crawford: The Forging of the Sword

November 12, 2017 Leave a comment

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

Women writers on peace and war

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Isabella Valancy Crawford
The Forging of the Sword

At the forging of the Sword –
The mountain roots were stirr’d,
Like the heart-beats of a bird;
Like flax the tall trees wav’d,
So fiercely struck the Forgers of the Sword.

At the forging of the Sword –
So loud the hammers fell,
The thrice seal’d gates of Hell,
Burst wide their glowing jaws;
Deep roaring, at the forging of the Sword.

At the forging of the Sword –
Kind mother Earth was rent,
Like an Arab’s dusky tent,
And monster-like she fed –
On her children; at the forging of the Sword.

At the forging of the Sword –
So loud the blows they gave,
Up sprang the panting wave;
And blind and furious slew,
Shrill-shouting to the Forgers of the Sword.

At the forging of the Sword –
The startled air swift whirl’d
The red flames round the world,
From the Anvil where was smitten,
The steel, the Forgers wrought into the Sword.

At the forging of the Sword –
The Maid and Matron fled,
And hid them with the dead;
Fierce prophets sang their doom,
More deadly, than the wounding of the Sword.

At the forging of the Sword –
Swift leap’d the quiet hearts,
In the meadows and the marts;
The tides of men were drawn,
By the gleaming sickle-planet of the Sword!

* * * * *

Thus wert thou forged, O lissome sword;
On such dusk anvil wert thou wrought;
In such red flames thy metal fused!
From such deep hells that metal brought;
O sword, dread lord, thou speak’st no word,
But dumbly rul’st, king and lord!

Less than the Gods by some small span,
Slim sword, how great thy lieges be!
Glint but in one wild camp-fire’s light,
Thy God-like vassals rush to thee.
O sword, dread lord, thou speak’st no word,
But dumbly rul’st, king and lord!

Sharp, God, how vast thy altars be!
Green vallies, sacrificial cups,
Flow with the purple lees of blood;
Its smoke is round the mountain tops.
O sword, dread lord, thou speak’st no word,
But dumbly rul’st, king and lord!

O amorous God, fierce lover thou!
Bright sultan of a million brides,
Thou know’st no rival to thy kiss,
Thy loves are thine whate’re betides,
O sword, dread lord, thou speak’st no word,
But dumbly rul’st, king and lord.

Unflesh thee, sword! No more, no more,
Thy steel no more shall sting and shine,
Pass thro’ the fusing fires again;
And learn to prune the laughing vine.
Fall sword, dread lord, with one accord,
The plough and hook we’ll own as lord!

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Joseph Fawcett: War Elegy

November 12, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

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Joseph Fawcett
War Elegy

O’er once the haughty baron’s house of war,
Now to a county’s dreary jail decay’d
Whose ruins frowns on yon tall hill from far,
The dead of night has thrown its deepest shade:

Hush’d lay the captive foes of angry law:
Loud clanking chains the ear no longer fill,
Oblivion blest the felon’s hopeless straw,
And mis’ry’s mad, inebriate mirth was still.

But one there was whose lids refuse to close:
More greatly curst, one daughter of despair,
Who wildly thus pour’d forth her wakeful woes
Thro’ the deep silence of the midnight air: –

“‘Tis well – ’tis well: – my sorest ill is o’er: –
Thou little wretch, that caus’d my keenest pain,
Shalt lift thy piteous looks to me no more,
For food my utmost efforts fail’d to gain!

“Come, kill the mother who her child has kill’d,
Haste, righteous judges, and avenge the deed!
Yes, men of justice, I’ve for ever still’d
The raging famine that I could not feed.

“Death, to thy gate I come at last for aid!
I knock’d at others, and they gave me none:
I and my babe are perishing, I said;
Me and my babe they sternly bad begone!

“Friend of the poor! an outcast wretch receive!
From woes the wealthy will not, thou wilt save!
Thy kinder hand shall all my wants relieve: –
No hunger gnaws us in the easy grave.

“No mother o’er her starving infant there
Her empty hand with raving anguish wrings!
What was it brac’d this heart such pangs to bear?
How came ye not to crack, ye iron strings?

‘Bread? – sweetest suppliant – ask it not of me –
The last, last crumb I had, has LONG been gone
Come, shall I lift thee up, and let thee see,
That shelf thine eager gaze devours, has none!

“Take off those craving, cruel eyes from me;
Look thus at them, who feast on sumptuous fare,
Yonder they sit! – the loaded tables see!
Carry those asking eyes, pale sufferer, there.

“Murd’ress! – tis false – did I the murder do!
Say not ’twas I that stain’d the street with gore
Ye hard, unrelenting sons of wealth, ’twas you!
In vain I wept for succour at your door.

“Ye would not let my little cherub live;
Rocks! – ye refus’d to lend it longer breath:
A mother gave it all she had to give –
Gave it a beggar’d mother’s blessing – DEATH!

“Heav’ns! – how I strove my innocent to save!
Till my worn spirit could no longer strive;
No more endure to hear the breath I gave
All spent in cries for bread I could not give!

“For three long days my wond’rous patience bore!
Those ne’er to be forgot, heart-piercing cries,
Bore to behold the pining looks implore –
Bore the dumb hunger of the hollow eyes.

“For joy a child is born into the world,
Delirous mother, that her pain forgets!
Mine out again this hand in mercy hurl’d!
With juster joy my bounding bosom beats!

“Here what but wolves, but wild destroyers dwell?
They tore my helpless husband from my side,
And, when the father in their battles fell,
A little bread his famish’d babe denied.

“When surfeit swells, while wasting thousands die,
When riot roars amidst surrounding groans,
Whence springs the patience of the quiet sky?
What keeps ye silent, ye unruffled stones?

“Farewell, thou dreary scene of want and woe!
The poor to dust where hard oppressors grind:
Force seas of blood, and seas of tears to flow,
And triumph in the torments of mankind!

“My fellow-victims! that so calmly lie:
Nor join the vigils, these parch’d eyes must keep,
Forgetful each of all his misery,
I also, sound as you shall shortly sleep.

“Fly, my deliverers! – hither wing your way!
Come, in your robes of beautious office, come!
And you, ye brightest sun-beams, deck the day
That to her rest a weary wretch shall doom.”

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Richard Furness: The plough and the sword

November 11, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Richard Furness: Selections on war

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Richard Furness
From The Rag-Bag

“Your dazzling coach that rattles through the mart,
Is far less useful than the farmer’s cart;
While the brave whittle, dangling by your side,
The gay appendage of your feudal pride,
Rusts in the scabbard, – see! the peasant blithe
Sweeps down whole fields with his broad sword, the scythe.
Leads harvest captive to his stores for food,
And while he conquers famine, sheds no blood;
The barn’s his palace, and the plough’s his throne,
The flail’s his sceptre, and true worth’s his crown.”

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Francis Coutts: Why was no better gift by thee bequeathed than a sword unsheathed?

November 10, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

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Francis Coutts
From Egypt

What was thy day of forty centuries worth,
What thy magnificence and conquests, all
The marvel of thy glory, to the Earth,
If night returning followed on thy fall?

To us proud dwellers o’er the northern tide
Why was no better gift by thee bequeathed, –
By thee, whose kings ere death were deified,
Than festal goblets and a sword unsheathed?

At Memphis and at Thebes the full delight
Of all the senses, and that deeper draught,
The vintage of the falchion in the fight,
The wine of red dominion, oft were quaffed;

The lust to conquer…
And all our fame and all our follies fade,
As thine have faded, like a wreath of snow.

***

From Peace

Fold, fold thy wings, thou earth-avoiding dove,
Obey our luring, like a hawk of love,
And when, at last alighting, thou has brought
The close of seeking that so long we sought,
Long as thy sojourn may thy solace be,
Not for Time only, but for Eternity.

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Edwin Waugh: Who strives to make the world a home where peace and justice meet

November 9, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

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Edwin Waugh
From The Man of the Time

He is a sterling nobleman
Who lives the truth he knows;
Who dreads the slavery of sin,
And fears no other foes.

Who scorns the folly of pretence;
Whose mind from cant is free;
Who values men for worth and sense,
And hates hypocrisy.

Who glows with love that’s free from taint;
Whose heart is kind and brave;
Who feels that he was neither meant
For tyrant nor for slave.

Who loves the ground, where’er he roam,
That’s trod by human feet,
And strives to make the world a home
Where peace and justice meet.

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Richard Le Gallienne: Is this to be strong, ye nations, your vulgar battles to fight?

November 8, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

American writers on peace and against war

Richard Le Gallienne: The Illusion of War

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Richard Le Gallienne
From The Cry of the Little Peoples

But now are we glad to rest, our battles and boasting done,
Glad just to sow and sing and reap in our share of the sun.

Of this O will ye rob us, – with a foolish mighty hand,
Add, with such cruel sorrow, so small a land to your land?

***

Is this to be strong, ye nations, is this to be strong?

Your vulgar battles to fight, and your grocery conquests to keep,
For this shall we break our hearts, for this shall our old men weep?
What gain in the day of battle…?

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Philip Stanhope Worsley: Not with iron steeped in slaughter

November 7, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

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Philip Stanhope Worsley

From Strength

Men…
Who sheathed the sword when peace might be,
And, bravely glad, confessed it gain;
In whose severe sublimity
Envy detects no fatal stain;
Men of a perfect mould; and such,
Who knew themselves and knew their time,
We cannot honour over-much
In story or in rhyme.

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From Advent

How by shining forms attended,
By what golden stair,
He, the Son of God, descended –
Tell me, Earth and Air! –
Hark! the heaven itself is ringing,
All the bine wide arch
Rolls a sonnd of angels singing
His triumphant march.

Not with iron steeped in slaughter,
Nor with blood-red feet,
Comes He, but like rills of water
Where the dry suns beat.
Love with happy eyes before Him
Melteth sin like snow;
All whom He hath made adore Him,
Fount of peace below.

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Phillis Wheatley: From every tongue celestial Peace resounds

November 6, 2017 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

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Phillis Wheatley
From Liberty and Peace

Lo! Freedom comes. Th’ prescient Muse foretold,
All Eyes th’ accomplish’d Prophecy behold:
Her Port describ’d, “She moves divinely fair,
“Olive and Laurel bind her golden Hair.”
She, the bright Progeny of Heaven, descends,
And every Grace her sovereign Step attends;
For now kind Heaven, indulgent to our Prayer,
In smiling Peace resolves the Din of War.
Fix’d in Columbia her illustrious Line,
And bids in thee her future Councils shine.
To every Realm her Portals open’d wide,
Receives from each the full commercial Tide.
Each Art and Science now with rising Charms
Th’ expanding Heart with Emulation warms.
E’en great Britannia sees with dread Surprize,
And from the dazzling Splendor turns her Eyes!
Britain, whose Navies swept th’ Atlantic o’er,
And Thunder sent to every distant Shore;
E’en thou, in Manners cruel as thou art,
The Sword resign’d, resume the friendly Part!

The Muse’s Ear hears mother Earth deplore
Her ample Surface smoak with kindred Gore:
The hostile Field destroys the social Ties,
And every-lasting Slumber seals their Eyes.

Descending Peace and Power of War confounds;
From every Tongue celestial Peace resounds:
As for the East th’ illustrious King of Day,
With rising Radiance drives the Shades away,
So Freedom comes array’d with Charms divine,
And in her Train Commerce and Plenty shine.

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J.A. Edgerton: When the cannon’s roar shall be heard no more

November 5, 2017 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

J.A. Edgerton: A Song of Peace

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J.A. Edgerton
A New Sermon

I come to preach on the text of love
From the gospel of brotherhood;
To help if I may in finding a way
That leads to the higher good;
To picture the light that is shining bright
On the Future’s upturned face,
And to whisper a hope whose breadth and scope
Is as wide as the human race.

It is this: the hour is almost here
When the races shall rise as one,
And shall all join hands from the thousand lands
That are kissed by a common sun;
When the cannon’s roar shall be heard no more
And the war flags shall be furled;
When the lily-white banner of peace shall float
O’er a union of all the world.

For God is weary of war and hate,
And the time has come at last
For the race to wake and the chains to break
That bind it unto the past;
To list to the Christ who died for men,
And to hearken unto the call
Of the voice of the common divinity
That stirs in the hearts of all.

Across the morn of the century,
In visions I turn my gaze
To the heights sublime that the race shall climb
To better and grander days.
As earth whirls on from dawn to dawn
Through the seasons that are to be,
There is some sweet day that is on its way
When the whole world shall be free.

There are glimpses of glory in Paradise,
But they all are not so bright
As our own dear earth will be, if we
Can open the reign of right;
If we, as brothers, will love each other,
And work as best we can
In the glorious labor of lifting our fellow man.

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Arthur Christopher Benson: No carnal triumph of the empurpled sword

November 4, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

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Arthur Christopher Benson
From Peace

Nay, she is near us yet – ’tis only we
Have lost the skill to hear her shyly pass,
When she with swift and viewless mystery
Fleets like the breeze across the bending grass;
Not in the gaps of profitable toil,
Not in weak intervals of feverish haste
May she be wooed; but when from stain and soil
Our hands are free, and weakness proudly faced,
Then may the gracious form be sisterly embraced.

Ah – unsubstantial prize, ah, faint reward!
Is then the cold gift of thy temperate hand
No carnal triumph of the empurpled sword,
No fiery thought that fills the awestruck land?
But quiet hours, and sober silent truth,
That not in envy, not in acrid scorn,
Can set aside the elvish dreams of youth,
The haggard fears of age and languor born…?

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James Russell Lowell: Dante and universal peace

November 3, 2017 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

James Russell Lowell on Lamartine: Highest duty of man, to summon peace when vulture of war smells blood

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James Russell Lowell
From Dante

Without peace, which only good government could give, mankind could not arrive at the highest virtue, whether of the active or the contemplative life. And since what is true of the part is true of the whole, and that it happens in the particular man that by sitting quietly he is perfected in prudence and wisdom, it is clear that the human race in the quiet or tranquillity of peace is most freely and easily disposed for its proper work which is almost divine, as it is written, ‘Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels.’ Whence it is manifest that universal peace is the best of those things which are ordained for our beatitude. Hence it is that not riches, not pleasures, not honors, not length of life, not health, not strength, not comeliness, was sung to the shepherds from on high, but peace…

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Stephen Phillips: Appalled at bloody trophies

November 2, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

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Stephen Phillips
From Christ in Hades

Before his eyes defiles in bright sunbeams,
An endless host parading past; whom he,
Their leader mild, remorsefully reviewed,
And had no joy in them, although aloud
They cried his name, and with fierce faces glad
Looked up to him for praise, all murmuring proud,
And bloody trophies toward him flourished and waved:
But as he stood, gazing, from time to time
He seemed to swerve, as though his hand grew red.
Or move, as though to interrupt some sight.

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Albert Durrant Watson: A Prayer for Peace

November 1, 2017 Leave a comment

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

Albert Durrant Watson
A Prayer for Peace

Thy peace, O God, our hearts implore!
No armistice red-shot with gore;
No fist of steel with threatening clad,
But peace that earth has never had,
With Love sun-gilding every shore.

We spurn all peace that dares ignore
Thy justice. Down the battle-roar,
The cry rings clear, though stern and sad;
Thy peace, O God!

We crave no peace that has a score
Of tyrannies deep at its core;
No wealth and squalor, money-mad,
But peace that makes the whole world glad –
Thy peace, O God!

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Maurice Baring: The Wounded

October 31, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Maurice Baring: The greater fools are you who seek the wars

Maurice Baring: Unalterable horror, misery, pain and suffering which is caused by modern war

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Maurice Baring
The Wounded
To H.C.

They turn us from the long-desired door;
Here there is shelter for the sorely spent,
But not for us; since many a dying score
Of maimed and mangled men, whose limbs are rent

With bayonet and with bullet, crowd the floor.
We who have fought since dawn, nor tasted bread,
Although our wounds are slight, our wounds are sore,
We must march on, nor shall we find a bed.

O men, O brothers, is our rest not earned?
Shall we not seek the mountains huge and wide
Whose doors are always open? There the guest

Sweet welcome finds; for thou hast never turned
A stranger from thy gates, nor hast denied,
O hospitable Death, a place to rest.

Fun-Chu-Ling
October 16, 1904

 

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John Davidson: The blood of men poured out in endless wars

October 30, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

John Davidson: Blood in torrents pour in vain, for war breeds war again

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John Davidson
From Fleet Street Eclogues

Artist: And of the waste of men
In war – pitiful soldiers, battle-harlots.

Votary: That also I consider.

Artist: Weaklings, fools
In millions who must end disastrously;
The willing hands and hearts, in millions too,
Paid with perdition for a life of toil;
The blood of women, a constant sacrifice,
Staining the streets and every altar-step;
The blood of men poured out in endless wars…

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Eliza Cook: Not where bullet, sword, and shield lie strown with the gory slain

October 28, 2017 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Eliza Cook: Selections on peace and war

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Eliza Cook
From Harvest Song

I love, I love to see
Bright steel gleam through the land;
‘Tis a goodly sight, but it must be
In the reaper’s tawny hand.
The helmet and the spear
Are twined with laurel wreath;
But the trophy is wet with the orphan’s tear,
And blood-spots rest beneath.
I love to see the field
That is moist with purple stain;
But not where bullet, sword, and shield,
Lie strown with the gory slain.

***

The feast that warfare gives
Is not for one alone –
‘Tis shared by the meanest slave that lives,
And the tenant of a throne.

Then glory to the steel
That shines in the reaper’s hand;
And thanks to God, who has blessed the sod,
And crowns the harvest land

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