From The Borderers
Of towns in flames, fields ravaged, young and old
Driven out in troops to want and nakedness;
Then grasp our swords and rush upon a cure
That flatters us, because it asks not thought:
The deeper malady is better hid;
The world is poisoned at the heart.
One a King,
General or Cham, Sultan or Emperor,
Strews twenty acres of good meadow-ground
With carcases, in lineament and shape
And substance, nothing differing from his own,
But that they cannot stand up of themselves
Another sits i’ th’ sun, and by the hour
Floats kingcups in the brook – a Hero one
We call, and scorn the other as Time’s spendthrift…
From Mille Viae Mortis
Here pallid Fear & dark Despair were seen.
And Fever here with looks forever lean,
Swoln Dropsy, halting Gout, profuse of woes,
And Madness fierce & hopeless of repose,
Wide-wasting Plague; but chief in honour stood
More-wasting War, insatiable of blood;
With starting eye-balls, eager for the word;
Already brandish’d was the glitt’ring sword.
From A Ballad:
Noting the Difference of Rich and Poor, in the Ways of a Rich Noble’s Palace and a Poor Workhouse
In peace, as in war, ’tis our young gallants’ pride,
To walk, each one i’ the streets, with a rapier by his side,
That none to do them injury may have pretence;
Wretched Age, in poverty, must brook offence.
From On An Infant Dying As Soon As Born
Why should kings and nobles have
Pictured trophies to their grave;
And we, churls, to thee deny
Thy pretty toys with thee to lie,
A more harmless vanity?
There are who lord it o’er their fellow-men
With most prevailing tinsel: who unpen
Their baaing vanities, to browse away
The comfortable green and juicy hay
From human pastures; or, O torturing fact!
Who, through an idiot blink, will see unpack’d
Fire-branded foxes to sear up and singe
Our gold and ripe-ear’d hopes. With not one tinge
Of sanctuary splendour, not a sight
Able to face an owl’s, they still are dight
By the blear-eyed nations in empurpled vests,
And crowns, and turbans. With unladen breasts,
Save of blown self-applause, they proudly mount
To their spirit’s perch, their being’s high account,
Their tiptop nothings, their dull skies, their thrones –
Amid the fierce intoxicating tones
Of trumpets, shoutings, and belabour’d drums,
And sudden cannon. Ah! how all this hums,
In wakeful ears, like uproar past and gone –
Like thunder clouds that spake to Babylon,
And set those old Chaldeans to their tasks. –
Are then regalities all gilded masks?
From On the Seas and Far Away
Peace, thy olive wand extend,
And bid wild War his ravage end,
Man with brother Man to meet,
And as a brother kindly greet;
Then may heav’n with prosperous gales,
Fill my sailor’s welcome sails;
To my arms their charge convey,
My dear lad that’s far away.
On the seas and far away,
On stormy seas and far away;
To my arms their charge convey,
My dear lad that’s far away.
From Two Choruses to the Tragedy of Brutus
Ye shades, where sacred truth is sought,
Groves, where immortal sages taught,
Where heav’nly visions Plato fired,
And Epicurus lay inspired!
In vain your guiltless laurels stood
Unspotted long with human blood.
War, horrid war, your thoughtful walks invades,
And steel now glitters in the Muses’ shades.
From The Temple of Fame
Straight the black clarion sends a horrid sound,
Loud laughs burst out, and bitter scoffs fly round,
Whispers are heard, with taunts reviling loud,
And scornful hisses run thro’ the crowd.
Last, those who boast of mighty mischiefs done,
Enslave their country, or usurp a throne;
Or who their glory’s dire foundation lay’d
On Sov’reigns ruin’d, or on friends betray’d;
Calm, thinking villains, whom no faith could fix,
Of crooked counsels and dark politics;
Of these a gloomy tribe surround the throne,
And beg to make th’ immortal treasons known.
The trumpet roars, long flaky flames expire,
With sparks, that seem’d to set the world on fire.
At the dread sound, pale mortals stood aghast,
And startled nature trembled with the blast.
From I Murder Hate
I murder hate by flood or field,
Tho’ glory’s name may screen us;
In wars at home I’ll spend my blood –
Life-giving wars of Venus.
The deities that I adore
Are social Peace and Plenty;
I’m better pleas’d to make one more,
Than be the death of twenty.
Thanksgiving for a National Victory
Ye hypocrites! are these your pranks?
To murder men and give God thanks!
Desist, for shame! – proceed no further;
God won’t accept your thanks for Murther!
From A Waterloo Ballad
“With kicks and cuts, and balls and blows,
I throb and ache all over;
I’m quite convinc’d the field of Mars
Is not a field of clover!
“O why did I a soldier turn
For any royal Guelph?
I might have been a Butcher, and
In business for myself!”
From Ode to Richard Martin
How many sing of wars,
Of Greek and Trojan jars –
The butcheries of men!
The Muse hath a “Perpetual Ruby Pen!”
Dabbling with heroes and the blood they spill;
But no one sings the man
That, like a pelican,
Nourishes Pity with his tender Bill!
Thomas Campbell: Selections on peace and war
From Nature’s Law – A Poem
Let other heroes boast their scars,
The marks of sturt and strife:
And other poets sing of wars,
The plagues of human life:
Shame fa’ the fun, wi’ sword and gun
To slap mankind like lumber!
I sing his name, and nobler fame,
Wha multiplies our number.
Ye Powers of peace, and peaceful song,
Look down with gracious eyes;
And bless auld Coila, large and long,
With multiplying joys;
Lang may she stand to prop the land,
The flow’r of ancient nations;
And Burnses spring, her fame to sing,
To endless generations!
From A Winter Night
“Blow, blow, ye winds, with heavier gust!
And freeze, thou bitter-biting frost!
Descend, ye chilly, smothering snows!
Not all your rage, as now united, shows
More hard unkindness unrelenting,
Vengeful malice unrepenting.
Than heaven-illumin’d Man on brother Man bestows!
“See stern Oppression’s iron grip,
Or mad Ambition’s gory hand,
Sending, like blood-hounds from the slip,
Woe, Want, and Murder o’er a land!
Ev’n in the peaceful rural vale,
Truth, weeping, tells the mournful tale,
How pamper’d Luxury, Flatt’ry by her side,
The parasite empoisoning her ear,
With all the servile wretches in the rear,
Looks o’er proud Property, extended wide;
And eyes the simple, rustic hind,
Whose toil upholds the glitt’ring show-
A creature of another kind,
Some coarser substance, unrefin’d –
Plac’d for her lordly use thus far, thus vile, below!
From Castle Gordon
Spicy forests, ever gray,
Shading from the burning ray
Hapless wretches sold to toil;
Or the ruthless native’s way,
Bent on slaughter, blood, and spoil:
Woods that ever verdant wave,
I leave the tyrant and the slave;
Give me the groves that lofty brave
The storms by Castle Gordon.
From On Scaring Some Water-Fowl In Loch-Turit
Conscious, blushing for our race,
Soon, too soon, your fears I trace,
Man, your proud, usurping foe,
Would be lord of all below:
Plumes himself in freedom’s pride,
Tyrant stern to all beside.
The eagle, from the cliffy brow,
Marking you his prey below,
In his breast no pity dwells,
Strong necessity compels:
But Man, to whom alone is giv’n
A ray direct from pitying Heav’n,
Glories in his heart humane-
And creatures for his pleasure slain!
In these savage, liquid plains,
Only known to wand’ring swains,
Where the mossy riv’let strays,
Far from human haunts and ways;
All on Nature you depend,
And life’s poor season peaceful spend.
Or, if man’s superior might
Dare invade your native right,
On the lofty ether borne,
Man with all his pow’rs you scorn;
Swiftly seek, on clanging wings,
Other lakes and other springs;
And the foe you cannot brave,
Scorn at least to be his slave.
From The Cherubs
On wings outspeeding mail or post,
Our sprites o’ertook the Imperial host;
In massacres it wallowed:
A noble nation met its hordes,
And broken fell their cause and swords,
Unfortunate, though hallowed.
They saw a late bombarded town,
It streets still warm with blood ran down;
Still smoked each burning rafter;
And hideously, ‘midst rape and sack,
The murderer’s laughter answered back
His prey’s convulsive laughter.
They saw the captive eye the dead,
With envy of his gory bed, –
Death’s quick reward of bravery:
They heard the clank of chains, and then
Saw thirty thousand bleeding men
Dragged manacled to slavery.
“Fie! fie!” the younger heavenly spark
Exclaimed – “we must have missed our mark,
And entered hell’s own portals:
Earth can’t be stained by crimes so black;
Nay, sure, we’ve got among a pack
Of fiends and not of mortals.”
“No,” said the elder; no such thing:
Fiends are not full enough to wring
The necks of one another: –
They know their interests too well:
Men fight; but every devil in hell
Lives friendly with his brother.”
From Lines Written In a Blank Leaf of La Perouse’s Voyages
His truth so touched romantic springs of thought,
That all my after-life his fate and fame
Entwined romance with La Perouse’s name. –
Fair were his ships, expert his gallant crews,
And glorious was the emprise of La Perouse, –
Humanely glorious! Men will weep for him,
When many a guilty martial fame is dim:
He ploughed the deep to bind no captive’s chain –
Pursued no repine – strewed no wreck with slain…
“Man even strives with Man, but we eschew
The guilty feud, and all fierce strifes abhor;
Nay, we are gentle as the sweet heaven’s dew
Beside the red and horrid drops of war,
Weeping the cruel hates men battle for,
Which worldly bosoms nourish in our spite:
For in the gentle breast we ne’er withdraw,
But only when all love hath taken flight,
And youth’s warm gracious heart is harden’d quite.”
“O fret away the fabric walls of Fame,
And grind down marble Caears with the dust:
Make tombs inscriptionless – raze each high name,
And waste old armors of renown with rust:
Do all of this, and thy revenge is just:
Make such decays the trophies of thy prime,
And check Ambition’s overweening lust,
That dares exterminating war with Time, –
But we are guiltless of that lofty crime.”
Whereas the blade flash’d on the dinted ground,
Down through his steadfast foe, yet made no scar
On that immortal Shade, or death-like wound;
But Time was long benumb’d, and stood a-jar,
And then with baffled rage took flight afar,
To weep his hurt in some Cimmerian gloom,
Or meaner fames (like mine) to mock and mar,
Or sharp his scythe for royal strokes of doom,
Whetting its edge on some old Caesar’s tomb.
From Windsor Forest
‘Hail, sacred Peace! hail, long-expected days,
That Thames’s glory to the stars shall raise!
Tho’ Tiber’s streams immortal Rome behold,
Tho’ foaming Hermus swells with tides of gold,
From Heav’n itself tho’ sev’nfold Nilus flows,
And harvests on a hundred realms bestows;
These now no more shall be the Muse’s themes,
Lost in my fame, as in the sea their streams.
Let Volga’s banks with iron squadrons shine,
And groves of lances glitter on the Rhine;
Let barb’rous Ganges arm a servile train,
Be mine the blessings of a peaceful reign.
No more my sons shall dye with British blood
Red Iber’s sands, or Ister’s foaming flood:
Safe on my shore each unmolested swain
Shall tend the flocks, or reap the bearded grain;
The shady empire shall retain no trace
Of war or blood, but in the sylvan chase;
The trumpet sleep, while cheerful horns are blown,
And arms employ’d on birds and beasts alone.
Behold! th’ ascending villas on my side
Project long shadows o’er the crystal tide;
Behold! Augusta’s glitt’ring spires increase,
And temples rise, the beauteous works of Peace.’
‘O stretch thy reign, fair Peace! from shore to shore,
Till conquest cease, and slavery be no more;
Till the freed Indians in their native groves
Reap their own fruits, and woo their sable loves;
Peru once more a race of kings behold,
And other Mexicos be roof’d with gold.
Exiled by thee from earth to deepest Hell,
In brazen bonds shall barb’rous Discord dwell:
Gigantic Pride, pale Terror, gloomy Care,
And mad Ambition shall attend her there:
There purple Vengeance, bathed in gore, retires,
Her weapons blunted, and extinct her fires:
There hated Envy her own snakes shall feel,
And Persecution mourn her broken wheel:
There Faction roar, Rebellion bite her chain,
And gasping Furies thirst for blood in vain.’
‘My humble Muse, in unambitious strains,
Paints the green forests and the flowery plains,
Where Peace descending bids her olives spring,
And scatters blessings from her dovelike wing.’
From Lines on Leaving a Scene in Bavaria
The world and falsehood left behind,
Thy votary shall bear elate,
(Triumphant o’er opposing Fate,)
His dark inspired mind.
But dost thou, Folly, mock the Muse
A wanderer’s mountain walk to sing,
Who shuns a warring world, nor woos
The vulture cover of its wing?
Then fly, thou cowering, shivering thing,
Back to the fostering world beguiled,
To waste in self-consuming strife
The loveless brotherhood of life,
Reviling and reviled!
Away, thou lover of the race
That hither chased yon weeping deer!
If Nature’s all majestic face
More pitiless than man’s appear;
Or if the wild winds seem more drear
Than man’s cold charities below,
Behold around his peopled plains,
Where’er the social savage reigns,
Exuberance of wo!
His art and honors wouldst thou seek
Emboss’d on grandeur’s giant walls?
Or hear his moral thunders speak
Where senates light their airy halls,
Where man his brother man enthralls;
Or sends his whirlwind warrants forth
To rouse the slumbering fiends of war,
To dye the blood-warm waves afar,
And desolate the earth?
From clime to clime pursue the scene.
And mark in all thy spacious way,
Where’er the tyrant man has been,
There Peace, the cherub, cannot stay;
In wilds and woodlands far away
She builds her solitary bower.
Where only anchorites have trod.
Or friendless men, to worship God,
Have wander’d for an hour.
In such a far forsaken vale, —
And such, sweet Eldurn vale, is thine, —
Afflicted nature shall inhale
Heaven-borrow’d thoughts and joys divine;
No longer wish, no more repine
For man’s neglect or woman’s scorn ;
Then wed thee to an exile’s lot.
For if the world hath loved thee not,
Its absence may be borne.
From Lines on Revisiting a Scottish River
One heart free tasting Nature’s breath and bloom
Is worth a thousand slaves to Mammon’s gains.
But whither goes that wealth, and gladdening whom?
See, left but life enough and breathing-room
The hunger and the hope of life to feel,
Yon pale Mechanic bending o’er his loom,
And Childhood’s self as at Ixion’s wheel,
From morn till midnight task’d to earn its little meal.
Is this Improvement? – where the human breed
Degenerates as they swarm and overflow,
Till Toil grows cheaper than the trodden weed,
And man competes with man, like foe with foe,
Till Death, that thins them, scarce seems public wo?
Improvement ! — smiles it in the poor man’s eyes,
Or blooms it on the cheek of Labor ? – No –
To gorge a few with Trade’s precarious prize.
We banish rural life, and breathe unwholesome skies.
Nor call that evil slight; God has not given
This passion to the heart of man in vain.
For Earth’s green face, th’ untainted air of Heaven,
And all the bliss of Nature’s rustic reign.
For not alone our frame imbibes a stain
From foetid skies; the spirit’s healthy pride
Fades in their gloom — And therefore I complain.
That thou no more through pastoral scenes shouldst glide.
My Wallace’s own stream, and once romantic Clyde!
From The Vanity of Human Wishes
The Tenth Satire of Juvenal, imitated
But, scarce observed, the knowing and the bold
Fall in the general massacre of gold;
Wide-wasting pest! that rages unconfined,
And crowds with crimes the records of mankind
For gold his sword the hireling ruffian draws,
For gold the hireling judge distorts the laws;
Wealth heap’d on wealth, nor truth, nor safety buys,
The dangers gather as the treasures rise.
Let history tell, where rival kings command,
And dubious title shakes the madded land,
When statutes glean the refuse of the sword,
How much more safe the vassal than the lord:
Low skulks the hind beneath the reach of power,
And leaves the wealthy traitor in the Tower;
Untouch’d his cottage, and his slumbers sound,
Though Confiscation’s vultures hover round.
The needy traveller, serene and gay,
Walks the wild heath, and sings his toil away.
Does envy seize thee? Crush the upbraiding joy,
Increase his riches, and his peace destroy –
Now fears in dire vicissitude invade,
The rustling brake alarms, and quivering shade;
Nor light nor darkness brings his pain relief,
One shows the plunder, and one hides the thief.
Yet still one general cry the sky assails,
And gain and grandeur load the tainted gales;
Few know the toiling statesman’s fear or care,
The insidious rival, and the gaping heir.
The festal blazes, the triumphal show,
The ravish’d standard, and the captive foe,
The senate’s thanks, the Gazette’s pompous tale,
With force resistless o’er the brave prevail.
Such bribes the rapid Greek o’er Asia whirl’d;
For such the steady Romans shook the world;
For such in distant lands the Britons shine,
And stain with blood the Danube or the Rhine;
This power has praise, that virtue scarce can warm,
Till Fame supplies the universal charm.
Yet Reason frowns on War’s unequal game,
Where wasted nations raise a single name,
And mortgaged ‘states their grandsires’ wreaths regret,
From age to age in everlasting debt;
Wreaths which at last the dear-bought right convey
To rust on medals, or on stones decay.
On what foundation stands the warrior’s pride,
How just his hopes, let Swedish Charles decide;
A frame of adamant, a soul of fire,
No dangers fright him, and no labours tire;
O’er love, o’er fear, extends his wide domain,
Unconquer’d lord of pleasure and of pain;
No joys to him pacific sceptres yield,
War sounds the trump, he rushes to the field;
Behold surrounding kings their powers combine,
And one capitulate, and one resign;
Peace courts his hand, but spreads her charms in vain:
‘Think nothing gain’d,’ he cries, ’till nought remain,
On Moscow’s walls till Gothic standards fly,
And all be mine beneath the polar sky.’
The march begins in military state,
And nations on his eye suspended wait;
Stern Famine guards the solitary coast,
And Winter barricades the realms of Frost;
He comes, nor want nor cold his course delay;
Hide, blushing Glory! hide Pultowa’s day:
The vanquish’d hero leaves his broken bands,
And shows his miseries in distant lands;
Condemn’d a needy supplicant to wait,
While ladies interpose, and slaves debate.
But did not Chance at length her error mend?
Did no subverted empire mark his end?
Did rival monarchs give the fatal wound,
Or hostile millions press him to the ground?
His fall was destined to a barren strand,
A petty fortress, and a dubious hand;
He left the name at which the world grew pale,
To point a moral, or adorn a tale.
All times their scenes of pompous woe afford,
From Persia’s tyrant to Bavaria’s lord.
In gay hostility, and barbarous pride,
With half mankind embattled at his side,
Great Xerxes comes to seize the certain prey,
And starves exhausted regions in his way;
Attendant Flattery counts his myriads o’er,
Till counted myriads soothe his pride no more;
Fresh praise is tried, till madness fires his mind,
The waves he lashes, and enchains the wind;
New powers are claim’d, new powers are still bestow’d,
Till rude resistance lops the spreading god;
The daring Greeks deride the martial show,
And heap their valleys with the gaudy foe;
The insulted sea with humbler thoughts he gains,
A single skiff to speed his flight remains;
The encumber’d oar scarce leaves the dreaded coast
Through purple billows and a floating host.
The bold Bavarian, in a luckless hour,
Tries the dread summits of Casarean power,
With unexpected legions bursts away,
And sees defenceless realms receive his sway:
Short sway! fair Austria spreads her mournful charms,
The Queen, the Beauty, sets the world in arms;
From hill to hill the beacon’s rousing blaze
Spreads wide the hope of plunder and of praise;
The fierce Croatian, and the wild Hussar,
With all the sons of ravage, crowd the war;
The baffled prince, in Honour’s flattering bloom,
Of hasty greatness finds the fatal doom,
His foes’ derision, and his subjects’ blame,
And steals to death from anguish and from shame.
From To the Rainbow
As fresh in you horizon dark,
As young thy beauties seem,
As when the eagle from the ark
First sported in thy beam.
For, faithful to its sacred page.
Heaven still rebuilds thy span.
Nor lets the type grow pale with age
That first spoke peace to man.
From The Last Man
Go, let oblivion’s curtain fall
Upon the stage of men,
Nor with the rising beams recall
Life’s tragedy again.
Its piteous pageants bring not back.
Nor waken flesh, upon the rack
Of pain anew to writhe;
Stretch’d in disease’s shapes abhorr’d
Or mown in battle by the sword,
Like grass beneath the scythe.
From Gertrude of Wyoming
Dismal to her the forge of battle gleams
Portentous light! and music’s voice is dumb;
Save where the fife its shrill reveille screams,
Or midnight streets re-echo to the drum.
That speaks of maddening strife, and blood-stain’d fields
From Upon the Feast of St Simon and St Jude
Of Fields with dead bestrew’d around,
And Cities smoaking on the ground
Let vulgar Poets sing,
Let them prolong their turgid lays
With some victorious Heroe’s praise
Or weep some falling King.
While I to nobler themes aspire,
To nobler subjects tune my lyre…
From An Ode
When Pride, by guilt, to greatness climbs,
Or raging factions rush to war,
Here let me learn to shun the crimes
I can’t prevent, and will not share.
From The Seasons
Let such as deem it glory to destroy
Rush into blood, the sack of cities seek;
Unpierced, exulting in the widow’s wail,
The virgin’s shriek, and infant’s trembling cry.
Let some, far distant from their native soil,
Urged or by want or harden’d avarice,
Find other lands beneath another sun.
Let this through cities work his eager way,
By legal outrage and establish’d guile,
The social sense extinct; and that ferment
Mad into tumult the seditious herd,
Or melt them down to slavery. Let these
Insnare the wretched in the toils of law,
Fomenting discord, and perplexing right,
An iron race! and those of fairer front.
But equal inhumanity, in courts,
Delusive pomp and dark cabals, delight;
Wreathe the deep bow, diffuse the lying smile.
And tread the weary labyrinth of state.
While he, from all the stormy passions free
That restless men involve, hears, and but hears,
At distance safe, the human tempest roar,
Wrapp’d close in conscious peace. The fall of kings,
The rage of nations, and the crush of states
Move not the man, who, from the world escaped,
In still retreats and flowery solitudes.
Not such the sons of Lapland: wisely they
Despise the insensate barbarous trade of war;
They ask no more than simple Nature gives.
They love their mountains, and enjoy their storms.
No false desires, no pride-created wants.
Disturb the peaceful current of their time.
These are not subjects for the peaceful Muse,
Nor will she stain with such her spotless song ;
Then most delighted, when she social sees
The whole mix’d animal-creation round
Alive and happy. ‘Tis not joy to her,
The falsely cheerful barbarous game of death.
This rage of pleasure, which the restless youth
Awakes, impatient, with the gleaming morn:
When beasts of prey retire, that all night long,
Urged by necessity, had ranged the dark,
As if their conscious ravage shunn’d the light,
Ashamed. Not so the steady tyrant Man,
Who with the thoughtless insolence of power
Inflamed, beyond the most infuriate wrath
Of the worst monster that e’er roam’d the waste,
For sport alone pursues the cruel chase.
Amid the beamings of the gentle days.
O Man! tyrannic lord! how long, how long
Shall prostrate Nature groan beneath your rage,
Awaiting renovation? when obliged.
Must you destroy?
From the Olney Hymns
“There, like streams that feed the garden,
Pleasures without end shall flow;
For the Lord, your faith rewarding,
All his bounty shall bestow;
Still in undisturb’d possession
Peace and righteousness shall reign;
Never shall you feel oppression,
Hear the voice of war again.”
He speaks – obedient to his call,
Our warm affections move:
Did he but shine alike on all,
Then all alike would love.
Then love to every heart would reign,
And war should cease to roar;
And cruel and bloodthirsty men
Would thirst for blood no more.
From Pleasures of Hope
Primeval Hope, the Aonian Muses say.
When Man and Nature mourn’d their first decay;
When every form of death, and every woe,
Shot from malignant stars to earth below;
When Murder bared her arm, and rampant War
Yoked the red dragons of her iron car;
When Peace and Mercy, banish’d from the plain,
Sprung on the viewless winds to Heaven again;
All, all forsook the friendless, guilty mind,
But Hope, the charmer, linger’d still behind.
Where barbarous hordes on Scythian mountains roam,
Truth, Mercy, Freedom, yet shall find a home;
Where’er degraded Nature bleeds and pines,
From Guinea’s coast to Sibir’s dreary mines.
Truth shall pervade th’ unfathom’d darkness there.
And light the dreadful features of despair –
Hark! the stern captive spurns his heavy load,
And asks the image back that Heaven bestow’d!
Fierce in his eye the fire of valor burns.
And, as the slave departs, the man returns.
Man! can thy doom no brighter soul allow?
Still must thou live a blot on Nature’s brow?
Shall War’s polluted banner ne’er be furl’d?
Shall crimes and tyrants cease but with the world?
What! are thy triumphs, sacred Truth, belied?
From The Seasons
The mineral kinds confess thy mighty power.
Effulgent, hence the veiny marble shines;
Hence Labour draws his tools ; hence burnish’d War
Gleams on the day; the nobler works of Peace
Hence bless mankind, and generous Commerce binds
The round of nations in a golden chain.
[T]he softening arts of Peace,
Whate’er the humanizing Muses teach;
The godlike wisdom of the temper’d breast;
Progressive truth, the patient force of thought;
Investigation calm, whose silent powers
Command the world; the light that leads to Heaven;
Kind equal rule, the government of laws,
And all-protecting Freedom, which alone
Sustains the name and dignity of man…
And blind amazement prone, the enlighten’d few,
Whose godlike minds Philosophy exalts…
Nothing, save rapine, indolence, and guile,
And woes on woes, a still-revolving train!
Whose horrid circle had made human life
Than non-existence worse: but, taught by thee,
Ours are the plans of policy and peace;
To live like brothers, and conjunctive all
Embellish life. While thus laborious crowds
Ply the tough oar, Philosophy directs
The ruling helm; or like the liberal breath
Of potent Heaven, invisible, the sail
Swells out, and bears the inferior world along.
From The Task
Sure there is need of social intercourse,
Benevolence and peace and mutual aid,
Between the nations, in a world that seems
To toll the death-bell to its own decease;
And by the voice of all its elements
To preach the general doom.
‘Tis universal soldiership has stabb’d
The heart of merit in the meaner class.
Arms through the vanity and brainless rage
Of those that bear them in whatever cause,
Seem most at variance with all moral good,
And incompatible with serious thought.
The clown, the child of nature, without guile,
Blest with an infant’s ignorance of all
But his own ſimple pleaſures, now and then
A wrestling match, a foot-race, or a fair,
Is ballotted, and trembles at the news.
Sheepish he doffs his hat, and mumbling swears
A Bible-oath to be whate’er they please,
To do he knows not what. The task perform’d,
That instant he becomes the sergeant’s care,
His pupil, and his torment, and his jest.
His awkward gait, his introverted toes,
Bent knees, round shoulders, and dejected looks,
Procure him many a curse. By slow degrees,
Unapt to learn and formed of stubborn stuff,
He yet by slow degrees puts off himself,
Grows conscious of a change, and likes it well.
He stands erect, his slouch becomes a walk,
He steps right onward, martial in his air
His form and movement; is as smart above
As meal and larded locks can make him; wears
His hat or his plumed helmet with a grace,
And his three years of heroship expired,
Returns indignant to the slighted plough.
He hates the field in which no fife or drum
Attends him, drives his cattle to a march,
And sighs for the smart comrades he has left.
‘Twere well if his exterior change were all –
But with his clumsy port the wretch has lost
His ignorance and harmless manners too.
To swear, to game, to drink, to show at home
By lewdness, idleness, and sabbath-breach,
The great proficiency he made abroad,
T’ astonish and to grieve his gazing friends,
To break some maiden’s and his mother’s heart,
To be a pest where he was useful once,
Are his sole aim, and all his glory now.
Incorporated, seem at once to Iose
Their nature, and disclaiming all regard
For mercy and the common rights of man,
Build factories with blood, conducting trade
At the sword’s point, and dying the white robe
Of innocent commercial justice red.
Hence too the field of glory, as the world
Misdeems it, dazzled by its bright array,
With all the majesty of its thund’ring pomp,
Enchanting music and immortal wreaths,
Is but a school where thoughtlessness is taught…
Is Troy more noble ’cause to ashes turned,
Than virgin cities that yet never burned?
Is fire, when it consumes
Temples, more fire, than when it melts perfumes?
Thus I enjoy my self, and taste the fruit
Of this blest Peace; whilst, toiled in the pursuit
Of bucks and stags, emblems of War, you strive
To keep the memory of our arms alive.
If Virtue must inherit, she’s my slave;
I lead her captive in a golden chain
About the world; she takes her form and being
From my creation; and those barren seeds
That drop from Heaven, if I not cherish them
With my distilling dews and fotive heat,
They know no vegetation; but, exposed
To blasting winds of freezing Poverty.
Or not shoot forth at all, or budding wither.
Should I proclaim the daily sacrifice
Brought to my Temples by the toiling rout,
Not of the fat and gore of abject Beasts
But human sweat and blood pour’d on my Altars
I might provoke the envy of the gods.
Turn but your eyes, and mark the busy world,
Climbing steep Mountains for the sparkling stone.
Piercing the Centre for the shining Ore,
And th’ Ocean’s bosom to rake pearly sands :
Crossing the torrid and the frozen Zones,
‘Midst rocks and swallowing Gulfs, for gainful trade :
And through opposing swords, fire, murd’ring cannon,
Scaling the walled Town for precious spoils.
Witness Mount Ida, where the Martial Maid
And frowning Juno did to mortal eyes
Naked for gold their sacred bodies show!
Therefore for ever be from heaven banished:
But since with toil from undiscover’d Worlds
Thou art brought hither, where thou first did’st breathe
The thirst of Empire into Regal breasts,
And frightedst quiet Peace from her meek Throne,
Filling the World with tumult, blood, and war…
The revolutions of Empires, States,
Sceptres and Crowns, are but my game and sport,
Which as they hang on the events of War,
So these depend upon my turning wheel.
You warlike Squadrons, who, in battle join’d,
Dispute the Right of Kings, which I decide.
Present the model of that martial frame,
By which, when Crowns are staked, I rule the game!
[H]ave to that secure fix’d state advanced
Both you and them, to which the labouring world –
Wading through streams of blood – sweats to aspire.
William Cowper: Selections on peace and war
From The Task
Great princes have great playthings. Some have play’d
At hewing mountains into men, and some
At building human wonders mountain high.
Some have amused the dull sad years of life
(Life spent in indolence, and therefore sad)
With schemes of monumental fame; and sought
By pyramids and mausolean pomp,
Short-lived themselves, to immortalize their bones.
Some seek diversion in the tented field,
And make the sorrows of mankind their sport.
But war’s a game which, were their subjects wise,
Kings would not play at. Nations would do well
To extort their truncheons from the puny hands
Of heroes, whose infirm and baby minds
Are gratified with mischief, and who spoil,
Because men suffer it, their toy, the World.
When Babel was confounded, and the great
Confederacy of projectors wild and vain
Was split into diversity of tongues,
Then, as a shepherd separates his flock,
These to the upland, to the valley those,
God drave asunder, and assign’d their lot
To all the nations. Ample was the boon
He gave them, in its distribution fair
And equal; and he bade them dwell in peace.
Peace was awhile their care: they plough’d, and sow’d,
And reap’d their plenty without grudge or strife,
But violence can never longer sleep
Than human passions please. In every heart
Are sown the sparks that kindle fiery war;
Occasion needs but fan them, and they blaze.
Cain had already shed a brother’s blood;
The deluge wash’d it out; but left unquench’d
The seeds of murder in the breast of man.
Soon by a righteous judgment in the line
Of his descending progeny was found
The first artificer of death; the shrewd
Contriver, who first sweated at the forge,
And forced the blunt and yet unbloodied steel
To a keen edge, and made it bright for war.
Him, Tubal named, the Vulcan of old times,
The sword and falchion their inventor claim;
And the first smith was the first murderer’s son.
His art survived the waters; and ere long,
When man was multiplied and spread abroad
In tribes and clans, and had begun to call
These meadows and that range of hills his own,
The tasted sweets of property begat
Desire of more: and industry in some,
To improve and cultivate their just demesne,
Made others covet what they saw so fair.
Thus war began on earth; these fought for spoil,
And those in self-defence. Savage at first
The onset, and irregular. At length
One eminent above the rest for strength,
For stratagem, or courage, or for all,
Was chosen leader; him they served in war,
And him in peace, for sake of warlike deeds,
Reverenced no less. Who could with him compare?
Or who so worthy to control themselves,
As he, whose prowess had subdued their foes?
Thus war, affording field for the display
Of virtue, made one chief, whom times of peace,
Which have their exigencies too, and call
For skill in government, at length made king.
King was a name too proud for man to wear
With modesty and meekness; and the crown,
So dazzling in their eyes who set it on,
Was sure to intoxicate the brows it bound.
He deems a thousand, or ten thousand lives,
Spent in the purchase of renown for him,
An easy reckoning; and they think the same.
Thus kings were first invented, and thus kings
Were burnish’d into heroes, and became
The arbiters of this terraqueous swamp…
Should be a despot absolute, and boast
Himself the only freeman of his land?
Should, when he pleases, and on whom he will,
Wage war, with any or with no pretence
Of provocation given, or wrong sustain’d,
And force the beggarly last doit, by means
That his own humour dictates, from the clutch
Of poverty, that thus he may procure
His thousands, weary of penurious life,
A splendid opportunity to die?
Look how the rainbow doth appear
But in one only hemisphere;
So likewise after our decease
No more is seen the arch of peace.
That cov’nant’s here, the under-bow,
That nothing shoots but war and woe.
None goes to warfare but with this intent –
The gains must dead the fears of detriment.
The Hand and Tongue
Two parts of us successively command:
The tongue in peace; but then in war the hand.
The Olive Branch
Sadly I walk’d within the field,
To see what comfort it would yield;
And as I went my private way
An olive branch before me lay,
And seeing it I made a stay,[Pg 89]
And took it up and view’d it; then
Kissing the omen, said Amen;
Be, be it so, and let this be
A divination unto me;
That in short time my woes shall cease
And Love shall crown my end with peace.
William Cowper: O place me in some heaven-protected isle where no crested warrior dips his plume in blood
Ye monarchs, whom the lure of honour draws,
Who write in blood the merits of your cause,
Who strike the blow, then plead your own defence,
Glory your aim, but justice your pretence;
Behold in Aetna’s emblematic fires
The mischiefs your ambitious pride inspires!
Fast by the stream that bounds your just domain,
And tells you where you have a right to reign,
A nation dwells, not envious of your throne,
Studious of peace, their neighbour’s and their own.
Ill-fated race! how deeply must they rue
Their only crime, vicinity to you!
The trumpet sounds, your legions swarm abroad,
Through the ripe harvest lies their destined road;
At every step beneath their feet they tread
The life of multitudes, a nation’s bread!
Earth seems a garden in its loveliest dress
Before them, and behind a wilderness.
Famine, and Pestilence, her firstborn son,
Attend to finish what the sword begun;
And echoing praises, such as fiends might earn,
And folly pays, resound at your return.
A calm succeeds – but Plenty, with her train
Of heartfelt joys, succeeds not soon again:
And years of pining indigence must show
What scourges are the gods that rule below.
Yet man, laborious man, by slow degrees
(Such is his thirst of opulence and ease),
Plies all the sinews of industrious toil,
Gleans up the refuse of the general spoil,
Rebuilds the towers that smoked upon the plain,
And the sun gilds the shining spires again.
Increasing commerce and reviving art
Renew the quarrel on the conqueror’s part;
And the sad lesson must be learn’d once more,
That wealth within is ruin at the door.
What are ye, monarchs, laurell’d heroes, say,
But Aetnas of the suffering world ye sway?
Sweet Nature, stripp’d of her embroider’d robe,
Deplores the wasted regions of her globe;
And stands a witness at Truth’s awful bar,
To prove you there destroyers as ye are.
O place me in some heaven-protected isle,
Where Peace, and Equity, and Freedom smile;
Where no volcano pours his fiery flood,
No crested warrior dips his plume in blood;
Where Power secures what Industry has won:
Where to succeed is not to be undone…
From Elegy XIV
Tell not of realms by ruthless war dismay’d;
Ah, hapless realms! that war’s oppression feel;
In vain may Austria boast her Noric blade,
If Austria bleed beneath her boasted steel.
From Elegy XV
‘Twas there, in happier times, this virtuous race,
Of milder merit, fix’d their calm retreat:
War’s deadly crimson had forsook the place,
And freedom fondly loved the chosen seat.
No wild ambition fired their tranquil breast,
To swell with empty sounds a spotless name;
If fostering skies, the sun, the shower, were blest,
Their bounty spread; their fieds’ extent the same.
Those fields, profuse of raiment, food, and fire,
They scorn’d to lessen, careless to extend;
Bade Luxury to lavish courts aspire,
And Avarice to city breasts descend.
For these the sounds that chase unholy strife!
Solve Envy’s charm, Ambition’s wretch release!
Raise him to spurn the radiant ills of life,
To pity pomp, to be content with peace.
From The Ruined Abbey, Or, The Affects Of Superstition
At length fair Peace, with olive crown’d, regains
Her lawful throne, and to the sacred haunts
Of wood or fount the frighted Muse returns.
The reign of genuine Charity commence.
Though scorn repay her sympathetic tears,
She still is kind, and still she perseveres…
But still a soul thus touch’d can never cease,
Whoever threatens war, to speak of peace.
Guns, halberts, swords, and pistols, great and small,
In starry forms disposed upon the wall:
We wonder, as we gazing stand below,
That brass and steel should make so fine a show;
But, though we praise the exact designer’s skill,
Account them implements of mischief still.
From The Nighingale and the Glow-Worm
That brother should not war with brother,
And worry and devour each other,
But sing and shine by sweet consent,
Till life’s poor transient night is spent,
Respecting in each other’s case
The gifts of nature and of grace.
Those Christians best deserve the name,
Who studiously make peace their aim;
Peace, both the duty and the prize
Of him that creeps and him that flies.
From The Judgement of Hercules
‘Let the gull’d fool the toils of war pursue,
Where bleed the many to enrich the few.
Where Chance from Courage claims the boasted prize;
Where, though she give, your country oft denies.’
‘Sleep’s downy god, averse to war’s alarms,
Shall o’er thy head diffuse his softest charms,
Ere anxious thought thy dear repose assail,
Or care, my most destructive foe, prevail.’
‘Such be my cares to bind the oppressive hand,
And crush the fetters of an injured land;
To see the monster’s noxious life resign’d,
And tyrants quell’d, the monsters of mankind!’
Raving war, begot
In the thirsty sands
Of the Libyan isles,
Wastes our empty fields;
What the greedy rage
Of fell wintry storms
Could not turn to spoil,
Fierce Bellona now
Has laid desolate,
Void of fruit, or hope.
Th’ eager thrifty hind,
Whose rude toil revived
Our sky-blasted earth,
Himself is but earth,
Left a scorn to fate
Through seditious arms:
And that soil, alive
Which he duly nursed,
Which him duly fed,
Dead his body feeds:
Yet not all the glebe
His tough hands manured
Now one turf affords
His poor funeral.
Thus still needy lives,
Thus still needy dies
Th’ unknown multitude.
War lays a burden on the reeling state,
And peace does nothing to relieve the weight;
Successive loads succeeding broils impose,
And sighing millions prophecy the close.
From Table Talk
I grant that, men continuing what they are,
Fierce, avaricious, proud, there must be war…
But let eternal infamy pursue
The wretch to nought but his ambition true,
Who, for the sake of filling with one blast
The post-horns of all Europe, lays her waste.
Think yourself station’d on a towering rock,
To see a people scatter’d like a flock,
Some royal mastiff panting at their heels,
With all the savage thirst a tiger feels;
Then view him self-proclaim’d in a gazette
Chief monster that has plagued the nations yet.
The globe and sceptre in such hands misplaced,
Those ensigns of dominion how disgraced!
The glass, that bids man mark the fleeting hour,
And Death’s own scythe, would better speak his power;
Then grace the bony phantom in their stead
With the king’s shoulder-knot and gay cockade;
Clothe the twin brethren in each other’s dress,
The same their occupation and success.
Down to the gulf from which is no return.
They trust in navies, and their navies fail –
God’s curse can cast away ten thousand sail!
They trust in armies, and their courage dies;
In wisdom, wealth, in fortune, and in lies.
From A Description of the Country’s Recreations
Peace and a secure mind,
Which all men seek, we only find.
Abusèd mortals! did you know
Where joy, heart’s ease, and comforts grow,
You ’d scorn proud towers
And seek them in these bowers,
Where winds, sometimes, our woods perhaps may shake,
But blustering care could never tempest make;
Nor murmurs e’er come nigh us,
Saving of fountains that glide by us.
Here’s no fantastic mask or dance,
But of our kids that frisk and prance;
Nor wars are seen,
Unless upon the green
Two harmless lambs are butting one the other,
Which done, both bleating run, each to his mother,
And wounds are never found,
Save what the ploughshare gives the ground.
Blest silent groves, O, may you be,
Forever, mirth’s best nursery!
May pure contents
Forever pitch their tents
Upon these downs, these meads, these rocks, these mountains!
And peace still slumber by these purling fountains…
From David‘s Hainous Sinne
Oh! that I might but live to see the day
(Day that I more desire then hope to see)
When all these bloody discords done away
Our princes in like manner might agree.
When all the world might smile in perfect peace
And these long-lasting broyls at length might cease
Broyles which alas doe dayly more increase.
The Netherlands with endlesse warrs are tost
Like in successe to their unconstant tide
Losing their gettings, gaining what they lost.
Denmarke both sword and Baltick seas divide:
More blood than juice of grape nigh Rhine is shed
And Brunswicke land will not be comforted
But cryes my duke alas I my duke is dead.
The warrs in France now layd aside not ended
Are onely skimmed over with a scarre
Yea haughty Alps that to the clouds ascended
Are over-climbed with a bloody warre:
And Maroes birth-place Mantua is more
Made famous nor for Mars and battel sore
Than for his muse it famed was before.
From Abel’s Blood
Sad, purple well! Whose bubbling eye
Did first against a murd’rer cry;
Whose streams, still vocal, still complain
Of bloody Cain:
And now at evening are as red
As in the morning when first shed.
If single thou
— Though single voices are but low, —
Couldst such a shrill and long cry rear
As speaks still in thy Maker’s ear,
What thunders shall those men arraign
Who cannot count those they have slain,
Who bathe not in a shallow flood,
But in a deep, wide sea of blood?
A sea, whose loud waves cannot sleep,
But deep still calleth upon deep:
Whose urgent sound, like unto that
Of many waters, beateth at
The everlasting doors above…
And therefore I, with reason, chose
This stratagem t’ amuse our foes;
To make an honourable retreat,
And wave a total sure defeat;
For those that fly may fight again,
Which he can never do that’s slain.
Hence timely running’s no mean part
Of conduct in the martial art;
By which some glorious feats atchieve,
As citizens by breaking thrive;
And cannons conquer armies, while
They seem to draw off and recoil;
Is held the gallantest course, and bravest
To great exploits, as well as safest;
That spares th’ expence of time and pains,
And dangerous beating out of brains;
And in the end prevails as certain
As those that never trust to fortune;
But make their fear do execution
Beyond the stoutest resolution;
As earthquakes kill without a blow,
And, only trembling, overthrow,
If th’ ancients crown’d their bravest men
That only sav’d a citizen,
What victory could e’er be won,
If ev’ry one would save but one
Or fight endanger’d to be lost,
Where all resolve to save the most?
By this means, when a battle’s won,
The war’s as far from being done;
For those that save themselves, and fly,
Go halves, at least, i’ th’ victory;
And sometimes, when the loss is small,
And danger great, they challenge all;
Print new additions to their feats,
And emendations in Gazettes;
And when, for furious haste to run,
They durst not stay to fire a gun,
Have done’t with bonfires, and at home
Made squibs and crackers overcome;
To set the rabble on a flame,
And keep their governors from blame;
Disperse the news the pulpit tells,
Confirm’d with fire-works and with bells;
And though reduc’d to that extream,
They have been forc’d to sing Te Deum;
Yet, with religious blasphemy,
By flattering Heaven with a lie
And for their beating giving thanks,
Th’ have rais’d recruits, and fill’d their banks;
For those who run from th’ enemy,
Engage them equally to fly;
And when the fight becomes a chace,
Those win the day that win the race
And that which would not pass in fights,
Has done the feat with easy flights;
Recover’d many a desp’rate campaign
With Bordeaux, Burgundy, and Champaign;
Restor’d the fainting high and mighty
With brandy-wine and aqua-vitae;
And made ’em stoutly overcome
With bachrach, hoccamore, and mum;
Whom the uncontroul’d decrees of fate
To victory necessitate;
With which, although they run or burn
They unavoidably return:
Or else their sultan populaces
Still strangle all their routed Bassas.
Quoth HUDIBRAS, I understand
What fights thou mean’st at sea and land,
And who those were that run away,
And yet gave out th’ had won the day;
Although the rabble sous’d them for’t,
O’er head and ears in mud and dirt.
‘Tis true, our modern way of war
Is grown more politick by far,
But not so resolute, and bold,
Nor ty’d to honour, as the old.
For now they laugh at giving battle,
Unless it be to herds of cattle;
Or fighting convoys of provision,
The whole design o’ the expedition:
And not with downright blows to rout
The enemy, but eat them out:
As fighting, in all beasts of prey,
And eating, are perform’d one way,
To give defiance to their teeth
And fight their stubborn guts to death;
And those atchieve the high’st renown,
That bring the others’ stomachs down,
There’s now no fear of wounds, nor maiming;
All dangers are reduc’d to famine;
And feats of arms, to plot, design,
Surprize, and stratagem, and mine;
But have no need nor use of courage,
Unless it be for glory or forage:
For if they fight, ’tis but by chance,
When one side vent’ring to advance,
And come uncivilly too near,
Are charg’d unmercifully i’ th’ rear;
And forc’d with terrible resistance,
To keep hereafter at a distance;
To pick out ground to incamp upon,
Where store of largest rivers run,
That serve, instead of peaceful barriers,
To part th’ engagements of their warriors;
Where both from side to side may skip,
And only encounter at bo-peep:
For men are found the stouter-hearted,
The certainer th’ are to be parted,
And therefore post themselves in bogs,
As th’ ancient mice attack’d the frogs,
And made their mortal enemy,
The water-rat, their strict ally.
For ’tis not now, who’s stout and bold,
But who bears hunger best, and cold;
And he’s approv’d the most deserving,
Who longest can hold out at starving;
And he that routs most pigs and cows,
The formidablest man of prowess.
So th’ emperor CALIGULA,
That triumph’d o’er the British Sea,
Took crabs and oysters prisoners,
Lobsters, ‘stead of cuirasiers,
Engag’d his legions in fierce bustles
With periwinkles, prawns, and muscles;
And led his troops with furious gallops, 365
To charge whole regiments of scallops
Not like their ancient way of war,
To wait on his triumphal carr
But when he went to dine or sup
More bravely eat his captives up;
And left all war, by his example,
Reduc’d to vict’ling of a camp well.
From Upon Appleton House, to my Lord Fairfax
Unhappy! shall we never more
That sweet Militia restore,
When Gardens only had their Towrs,
And all the Garrisons were Flowrs,
When Roses only Arms might bear,
And Men did rosie Garlands wear?
Tulips, in several Colours barr’d,
Were then the Switzers of our Guard.
The Gardiner had the Souldiers place,
And his more gentle Forts did trace.
The Nursery of all things green
Was then the only Magazeen.
The Winter Quarters were the Stoves,
Where he the tender Plants removes.
But War all this doth overgrow:
We Ord’nance Plant and Powder sow.
The Man He Killed
“Had he and I but met
By some old ancient inn,
We should have sat us down to wet
Right many a nipperkin!
“But ranged as infantry,
And staring face to face,
I shot at him as he at me,
And killed him in his place.
“I shot him dead because —
Because he was my foe,
Just so: my foe of course he was;
That’s clear enough; although
“He thought he’d ‘list, perhaps,
Off-hand like — just as I —
Was out of work — had sold his traps —
No other reason why.
“Yes; quaint and curious war is!
You shoot a fellow down
You’d treat if met where any bar is,
Or help to half-a-crown.”
The man of life upright,
Whose guiltless heart is free,
From all dishonest deeds
Or thought of vanity.
The man whose silent days
In harmless joys are spent,
Whom hopes cannot delude
Nor sorrow discontent:
That man needs neither towers
Nor armour for defence,
Nor secret vaults to fly
From thunder’s violence…
From Eclogue III
O! See what troupes of nymphs have been sporting on the strands
And they’ve been blessed nymphs of peace, with olives in their hands.
And water you the blessed root of the green olive tree,
With whose sweet shadow all your banks with peace preserved be…
That fame may be your fruit, the boughs preserved by peace,
And let the mournful cypress die, now storms and tempest cease.
O! see what troups of Nimphs been sporting on the strands
And they been blessed Nimphs of peace, with Oliues in their hands.
And water thou the blessed roote of that greene Oliue tree,
With whose sweete shadow, al thy bancks with peace preserued be,
That fame may be thy fruit, the boughes preseru’d by peace,
And let the mournful Cipres die, now stormes and tempest cease.
Closing the volume of the finish’d age,
(Though noble, ’twas an iron page)
A more delightful leaf expand,
Free from alarms, and fierce Bellona’s rage
Bid the great months begin their joyful round,
By Flora some, and some by Ceres crown’d.
Teach the glad hours to scatter as they fly,
Soft quiet, gentle love, and endless joy:
Lead forth the years for peace and plenty fam’d,
From Saturn’s rule, and better metal nam’d.
No long-er shall their wretched zeal adore
Ideas of destructive power,
Spirits that hurt, and godheads that devour
New incense they shall bring, new altars raise…
The gods, by right of nature, must possess
An ever lasting age of perfect peace;
Far off removed from us and our affairs;
Neither approached by dangers, or by cares…
Vulcan contrive me such a cup
As Nestor used of old,
Engrave no battle on his cheek;
With war I’ve not to do;
I’m none of those who took Maastricht,
Nor Yarmouth leaguer knew.
From A Satyr against Reason and Mankind
Which is the basest creature, man or beast?
Birds feed on birds, beasts on each other prey,
But savage man alone does man betray.
For hunger or for love they fight and tear,
Whilst wretched man is still in arms for fear.
For fear he arms, and is of arms afraid,
From fear, to fear successively betrayed;
Base fear, the source whence his best passions came:
His boasted honor, and his dear-bought fame;
The lust of power, to which he’s such a slave,
And for the which alone he dares be brave…
From An Ode of Anacreon, Paraphrased: The Cup
Make me a bowl, a mighty bowl,
Large, as my capacious soul…
Yet draw no shapes of armour there,
No cask, nor shield, nor sword, nor spear,
Nor wars of Thebes, nor wars of Troy ,
Nor any other martial joy:
For what do I vain armour prize,
Who mind not such rough exercise,
But gentler sieges, softer wars,
Fights, that cause no wounds, or scars?
I’ll have no battles on my plate,
Lest sight of them should brawls create,
Lest that provoke to quarrels too,
Which wine it self enough can do.
The Men of War
If any have an ear
Saith holy John, then let him hear .
He that into captivity
Leads others, shall a captive be.
Who with the sword doth others kill,
A sword shall his blood likewise spill.
Here is the patience of the saints,
And the true faith, which never faints.
Were not thy word (dear Lord!) my light,
How would I run to endless night,
And persecuting thee and thine,
Enact for saints my self and mine.
But now enlighten’d thus by thee,
I dare not think such villainy;
Nor for a temporal self-end
Successful wickedness commend.
For in this bright, instructing verse
Thy saints are not the conquerors;
But patient, meek, and overcome
Like thee, when set at naught and dumb.
Armies thou hast in Heaven, which fight,
And follow thee all clothed in white,
But here on earth (though thou hast need)
Thou wouldst no legions, but wouldst bleed.
The sword wherewith thou dost command
Is in thy mouth, not in thy hand,
And all thy saints do overcome
By thy blood, and their martyrdom.
But seeing soldiers long ago
Did spit on thee, and smote thee too;
Crowned thee with thorns, and bow’d the knee,
But in contempt, as still we see,
I’ll marvel not at ought they do,
Because they used my Savior so;
Since of my Lord they had their will,
The servant must not take it ill.
Dear Jesus give me patience here,
And faith to see my crown as near
And almost reach’d, because ’tis sure
If I hold fast and slight the lure .
Give me humility and peace,
Contented thoughts, innoxious ease,
A sweet, revengeless, quiet mind,
And to my greatest haters kind.
Give me, my God! a heart as mild
And plain, as when I was a child;
That when thy throne is set, and all
These conquerors before it fall,
I may be found (preserved by thee)
Amongst that chosen company,
Who by no blood (here) overcame
But the blood of the blessed Lamb.
From A Panegyric
Less pleasure take brave minds in battles won,
Than in restoring such as are undone;
Tigers have courage, and the rugged bear,
But man alone can, whom he conquers, spare.
To pardon willing, and to punish loath,
You strike with one hand, but you heal with both;
Lifting up all that prostrate lie, you grieve
You cannot make the dead again to live.
From Civil War
‘Tis only peace breeds scarcity in Hell.
Their rage and furious avarice shall appear,
Boundless as Marius’ sword and Sulla’s spear,
If in their misty souls there chance to shine
The smallest peaceful glimpse of light divine,
Raise up new fogs and thicken clouds apace,
Till all our night of Hell confuse the place.
Pluck from their hearts each mild and sober thought,
Till war and public woe with joy be bought
Ev’n by the covetous; till cowards fight,
And all men crowd to ruin with delight.
From Upon Dr. Harvey
These useful secrets to his pen we owe,
And thousands more ’twas ready to bestow;
Of which a barbarous war’s unlearned rage
Has robbed the ruined age…
O cursèd war! Who can forgive thee this?
Houses and towns may rise again,
And ten times easier it is
To rebuild Paul’s than any work of his.
From The Honorable Historie of Frier Bacon and Frier Bongay
Modern rendering by RR
I find by deep prescience of my art,
Which once I tempered in my secret cell,
That here where Brutus built his New Troy
From forth the royal garden of a king
So rich and fair a bud shall flourish out
Whose brightness shall outshine proud Phœbus’ flower,
And overshadow Albion with her leaves.
Till then Mars shall be master of the field,
But then the stormy threats of wars shall cease —
The horse shall stamp as careless of the pike,
Drums shall be turned to timbrels of delight;
With wealthy favours plenty shall enrich
The strand that gladdened wandering Brutus to see,
And peace from heaven shall shelter in those leaves
That gorgeously beautify this matchless flower.
I find by deep prescience of mine art,
Which once I temper’d in my secret cell,
That here where Brute did build his Troynovant,
From forth the royal garden of a king
Shall flourish out so rich and fair a bud,
Whose brightness shall deface proud Phœbus’ flower,
And over-shadow Albion with her leaves.
Till then Mars shall be master of the field,
But then the stormy threats of wars shall cease –
The horse shall stamp as careless of the pike,
Drums shall be turn’d to timbrels of delight;
With wealthy favours plenty shall enrich
The strand that gladded wandering Brute to see,
And peace from heaven shall harbour in those leaves
That gorgeous beautify this matchless flower.
From The Faerie Queene
The longer life, I wote the greater sin,
The greater sin, the greater punishment;
All those great battels which thou boasts to win,
Through strife, and bloodshed, and avengement,
Now prais’d, hereafter dear thou shalt repent:
For, life must life, and blood must blood repay.
Is not enough thy evil life forespent?
Thence-forth the suit of earthly conquest shun,
And wash thy hands from guilt of bloody field:
For, blood can nought but sin, and wars but sorrows yield.
What need of arms, where peace doth ay remain
(Said he) and battles none are to be fought?
Soon as thy dreadful trump begins to sound,
The God of war with his fierce equipage
Thou dost awake, sleep never he so sound,
And feared nations dost with Horror stern astound.
And drad Bellona, that hath doth sound on hie
Warres and allarums unto Nations wide,
That make both heaven and earth to tremble at her pride…
Description of a Gun
Vulcan begat me: Minerva me taught:
Nature, my mother: Craft nourish’d me year by year:
Three bodies are my food: my strength is in naught:
Anger, wrath, waste, and noise are my children dear.
Guess, friend, what I am: and how I am wraught:
Monster of sea, or of land, or of elsewhere.
Know me, and use me: and I may thee defend:
And if I be thine enemy, I may thy life end.
From The Faerie Queene
The cruel steel so greedily doth bite
In tender flesh, that streams of blood down flow,
With which the arms that earst so bright did show,
Into a pure vermillion now are dy’d.
Great ruth in all the gazers hearts did grow,
Seeing the gored wounds to gape so wipe,
That victory they dare not wish to either side.
Where in a dungeon deep huge numbers lay,
Of caytive wretched thralls, that wailed night and day.
…great Nimrod was,
That first the world with sword and fire warrayd;
And after him, old Ninus far did pass
In princely pomp, of all the world obey’d…
All these together in one heap were thrown,
Like carcases of beasts in butcher’s stall.
And in another corner wide were strown
The antique ruins of the Romans fall:
Great Romulus the grandsire of them all,
Proud Tarquin, and too lordly Lentulus,
Stout Scipio, and stubborn Hannibal,
Ambitious Sylla, and stern Marius,
High Caesar, great Pompey, and fierce Antonius…
A dunghill of dead carcases he spy’d,
The dreadful spectacle of that sad house of Pride.
From A Litany In Time Of Plague
Strength stoops unto the grave,
Worms feed on Hector brave;
Swords may not fight with fate,
Earth still holds open her gate.
“Come, come!” the bells do cry.
I am sick, I must die.
Lord, have mercy on us!
From The Unfortunate Traveller
Modern rendering by RR
Overseas with my implements I got me, where hearing the king of France and the Swiss were together by the ears, I made towards them as fast as I could, thinking to thrust myself into that faction that was the strongest. It was my good luck or my ill, I know not which, to come to the fighting of the battle where I saw an awful spectacle of bloodshed on both sides, here the unwieldy Swiss wallowing in their gore, like an ox in his dung, there the sprightly French sprawling and turning on the stained grass, like a roach [carp] newly taken out of the stream. All the ground was strewn with battle axes, as the carpenters’ yard with chips. The plain appeared like a quagmire, overspread as it was with trampled dead bodies. In one place you might behold a heap of dead murdered men overwhelmed by a falling steed instead of a tombstone, in another place a bundle of bodies fettered together in their own bowels, and as the tyrant Roman emperors used to tie condemned living caitiffs face-to-face to dead corpses, so were the half-living here mixed with squeezed carcasses long putrefied. Any man might give arms that was an actor in that battle, for there were more arms and legs scattered in the field that day than will be gathered up until doomsday. The French king himself in this conflict was much distressed, the brains of his own men sprinkled in his face.
Ouer sea with my implements I got me, where hearing the king of France and the Swizers were together by the ears, I made towards them as fast as I could, thinking to thrust my selfe into that faction that was strongest It was my good lucke or my ill, I know not which, to come iust to ye fighting of the battel, where I sawe a wonderfull spectacle of bloud shed on both sides, here the vnwildie swizers wallowing in their gore, like an oxe in his doung, there the sprightly French sprawling and turning on the stayned grasse, like a roach newe taken out of the streame, all the ground was strewed as thicke with battle axes, as the carpenters yard with chips. The plaine appeared like a quagmire, ouerspread as it was with trampled dead bodies. In one place might you beholde a heape of dead murthered men ouerwhelmed with a falling steed, in stead of a tombe stone, in another place a bundle of bodies fettered together in theyr owne bowels, and as the tyrant Romane Empereurs vsed to tie condemned liuing caitifes face to face to dead corses, so were the halfe liuing here mixt with squeazed carcases long putrifide. Anie man might giue armes that was an actor in that battell, for there were more armes and legs scattered in the field that daie, than will be gathered vp till dooms daie, the French king himselfe in this conflict was much distressed, the braines of his owne men sprinkled in his face…