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Wordsworth: We felt as men should feel at vast carnage

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

British writers on peace and war

William Wordsworth: Selections on peace and war

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William Wordsworth
After Visiting the Field of Waterloo (1820)

A winged Goddess – clothed in vesture wrought
Of rainbow colours; One whose port was bold,
Whose overburthened hand could scarcely hold
The glittering crowns and garlands which it brought,
Hover’d in air above the far-famed Spot.
She vanished – All was joyless, blank and cold;
But if from wind-swept fields of corn that roll’d
In dreary billows from the meagre cot,
And monuments that may soon disappear,
Meanings we craved which could not there be found;
If the wide prospect seemed an envious seal
Of great exploits; we felt as Men should feel,
With such vast hoards of hidden carnage near,
And horror breathing from the silent ground!

Alternate version:

A winged Goddess – clothed in vesture wrought
Of rainbow colours; One whose port was bold,
Whose overburthened hand could scarcely hold
The glittering crowns and garlands which it brought –
Hovered in air above the far-famed Spot.
She vanished; leaving prospect blank and cold
Of wind-swept corn that wide around us rolled
In dreary billows; wood, and meagre cot,
And monuments that soon must disappear:
Yet a dread local recompence we found;
While glory seemed betrayed, while patriot-zeal
Sank in our hearts, we felt as men should feel
With such vast hoards of hidden carnage near,
And horror breathing from the silent ground!

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. December 26, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    Adore Wordsworth and this poem fits well nowadays!

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