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Milton: Without ambition, war, or violence

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

Milton: Men levy cruel wars, wasting the earth, each other to destroy

John Milton: What can war but endless war still breed?

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John Milton
From Paradise Regained

miltonportrait2

[Jesus speaking to Satan]

They err who count it glorious to subdue
By Conquest far and wide, to over-run
Large Countries, and in field great Battels win,
Great Cities by assault: what do these Worthies,
But rob and spoil, burn, slaughter, and enslave
Peaceable Nations, neighbouring, or remote,
Made Captive, yet deserving freedom more
Then those thir Conquerours, who leave behind
Nothing but ruin wheresoe’re they rove,
And all the flourishing works of peace destroy,
Then swell with pride, and must be titl’d Gods,
Great Benefactors of mankind, Deliverers,
Worship’t with Temple, Priest and Sacrifice;
One is the Son of Jove, of Mars the other,
Till Conquerour Death discover them scarce men,
Rowling in brutish vices, and deform’d,
Violent or shameful death thir due reward.
But if there be in glory aught of good,
It may be means far different be attain’d
Without ambition, war, or violence;
By deeds of peace, by wisdom eminent,
By patience, temperance.

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