Home > Uncategorized > Petrarch: Wealth and power at a bloody rate is wicked, better bread and water eat with peace

Petrarch: Wealth and power at a bloody rate is wicked, better bread and water eat with peace

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

Italian writers on war and militarism

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Petrarch
From The Triumph of Death (1348)
Translated by R.G. Macgregor

She answered then; afar we might perceive
Millions of dead heap’d on th’ adjacent plain;
No verse nor prose may comprehend the slain
Did on Death’s triumph wait, from India,
From Spain, and from Morocco, from Cathay,
And all the skirts of th’ earth they gathered were;
Who had most happy lived, attended there:
Popes, Emperors, nor Kings, no ensigns wore
Of their past height, but naked show’d and poor.
Where be their riches, where their precious gems,
Their mitres, sceptres, robes, and diadems?
Oh, miserable men, whose hopes arise
From worldly joys, yet be there few so wise
As in those trifling follies not to trust;
And if they be deceived, in end ’tis just:
Ah! more than blind, what gain you by your toil?
You must return once to your mother’s soil,
And after-times your names shall hardly know,
Nor any profit from your labour grow;
All those strange countries by your warlike stroke
Submitted to a tributary yoke;
The fuel erst of your ambitious fire,
What help they now? The vast and bad desire
Of wealth and power at a bloody rate
Is wicked, better bread and water eat
With peace; a wooden dish doth seldom hold
A poison’d draught; glass is more safe than gold…

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. EROL CURMAK
    November 13, 2011 at 11:18 am

    Petrarch was definitively a great thinker, philosopher of his times of dark ages
    Today we have entered a second dark age and keep sinking into abyss day by day
    If he is here today with us, he would repeat his stanza one more time.
    Who would listen?

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