Home > Uncategorized > William Davenant : War, the sport of kings, increases the number of dead

William Davenant : War, the sport of kings, increases the number of dead

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

British writers on peace and war

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William Davenant
The Soldier Going to the Field

Preserve thy sighs, unthrifty girl!
To purify the air;
Thy tears to thread, instead of pearl,
On bracelets of thy hair.

The trumpet makes the echo hoarse,
And wakes the louder drum,
Expense of grief gains no remorse,
When sorrow should be dumb.

For I must go where lazy peace
Will hide her drowsy head;
And, for the sport of kings, increase
The number of the dead.

But first I’ll chide thy cruel theft:
Can I in war delight,
Who, being of my heart bereft
Can have no heart to fight?

Thou knowest the sacred laws of old,
Ordained a thief should pay,
To quit him of his theft, sevenfold
What he had stolen away.

Thy payment shall but double be;
O then with speed resign
My own seducèd heart to me,
Accompanied with thine.

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