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Archive for August, 2016

Thomas Campion: Upright man needs neither towers nor armour

August 31, 2016 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Thomas Campion: Raving war wastes our empty fields

Thomas Campion: Then bloody swords and armour should not be

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Thomas Campion
Excerpt

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…

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Michael Drayton: All your banks with peace preserved be

August 30, 2016 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

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Michael Drayton
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.

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Matthew Prior: A new golden age free from fierce Bellona’s rage

August 29, 2016 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

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Matthew Prior
Excerpts

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…

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John Wilmot: With war I’ve not to do

August 28, 2016 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

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John Wilmot

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…

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John Oldham: The cup and the sword

August 27, 2016 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

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John Oldham
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.

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Henry Vaughan: The Men of War

August 26, 2016 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Henry Vaughan: Let us ‘midst noise and war of peace and mirth discuss

Henry Vaughan: What thunders shall those men arraign who cannot count those they have slain?

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Henry Vaughan
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.

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Edmund Waller: Less pleasure take brave minds in battles won

August 25, 2016 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

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Edmund Waller
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.

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Abraham Cowley: Only peace breeds scarcity in Hell

August 24, 2016 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Abraham Cowley: Like the peace, but think it comes too late

Abraham Cowley: To give peace and then the rules of peace

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Abraham Cowley
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.

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Robert Greene: Then the stormy threats of wars shall cease

August 20, 2016 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

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Robert Greene
From The Honorable Historie of Frier Bacon and Frier Bongay
Modern rendering by RR

Roger Bacon:

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.

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Edmund Spenser: Wars can nought but sorrows yield

August 16, 2016 1 comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Edmund Spenser: The first to attack the world with sword and fire

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Edmund Spenser
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.

***

From Mutabilitie

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…

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Thomas Wyatt: Children of the gun

August 15, 2016 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Thomas Wyatt: Wax fat on innocent blood: I cannot leave the state to Caesar

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Thomas Wyatt
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.

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Edmund Spenser: The first to attack the world with sword and fire

August 13, 2016 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Edmund Spenser: Wars can nought but sorrows yield

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Edmund Spenser
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.

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Thomas Nashe: Swords may not fight with fate

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

British writers on peace and war

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Thomas Nashe
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…

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Richard Crashaw: In Hell’s palaces

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

British writers on peace and war

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Richard Crashaw
From Sospetto d’Herode

Mongst all the Palaces in Hells …

There has the purple Vengeance a proud seat,
Whose ever-brandisht Sword is sheath’d in blood.
About her Hate, Wrath, Warre, and slaughter sweat;
Bathing their hot limbs in life’s pretious flood.
There rude impetuous Rage do’s storme, and fret:
And there, as Master of this murd’ring brood,
Swinging a huge Sith stands impartiall Death,
With endlesse businesse almost out of Breath.

For Hangings and for Curtaines, all along
The walls, (abominable ornaments!)
Are tooles of wrath, Anvills of Torments hung;
Fell Executioners of foule intents,
Nailes, hammers, hatchets sharpe, and halters strong,
Swords, Speares, with all the fatall Instruments
Of sin, and Death, twice dipt in the dire staines
Of Brothers mutuall blood, and Fathers braines.

***

What busy motions, what wild Engines stand
On tiptoe in their giddy Braynes? th’ have fire
Already in their Bosomes; and their hand
Already reaches at a sword: They hire
Poysons to speed thee; yet through all the Land
What one comes to reveale what they conspire?
Goe now, make much of these; wage still their wars
And bring home on thy Brest more thanklesse scarrs.

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Fulke Greville: The shames of peace are the pride of war

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

British writers on peace and war

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Fulke Greville
From A Treatise of Warres
Modern rendering by RR

Peace is the harvest of man’s rich creation,
Where wit and pain have scope to sow and reap
The mind, by arts to work her elevation…

If peace be such, what must we think of war,
But horror from above, below confusion,
Where the unhappy only happy are,
As making mischief ever her conclusion;
Scourges of God, figures of hell to come,
Of vanity, a vain, infamous tomb.

Where neither throne nor crown have reverence,
Sentence, nor wit nor sergeant be in fashion;
All terror scorned, of guiltiness no sense;
A discipline whereof the rule is passion;
And as men’s vices beasts’ chief virtues are,
So be the shames of peace the pride of war.

***

Peace is the haruest of Mans rich creation,
Where Wit and Paine haue scope to sow, and reape
The minde, by Arts, to worke her eleuation…

If Peace be such, what must we thinke of Warre,
But Horrour from aboue, below Confusion,
Where the vnhappy onely happy are,
As making mischiefe euer her conclusion ;
Scourges of God, figures of hell to come,
Of vanity, a vaine, infamous tombe.
Where neither Throne, nor Crowne haue reuerence,
Sentence, nor Writ, nor Sergeant be in fashion ;
All terror scorn’d, of guiltinesse no sense ;
A Discipline whereof the rule is Passion :
And as mens vices, beasts chiefe vertues are,
So be the shames of Peace, the Pride of Warre.

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Christopher Smart: Rejoice with the dove. Pray that all guns be nailed up.

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

British writers on peace and war

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Christopher Smart
From Jubilate Agno

For I bless the PRINCE of PEACE and pray that all the guns may be nail’d up, save such are for the rejoicing days.

For I meditate the peace of Europe amongst family bickerings and domestic jars.

For he that walked upon the sea, hath prepared the floods with the Gospel of peace.

Let Maaseiah bless with the Drone, who with the appearance of a Bee is neither a soldier nor an artist, neither a swordsman nor smith.

Let Elias which is the innocency of the Lord rejoice with the Dove.

Let Jael rejoice with the Plover, who whistles for his live, and foils the marksmen and their guns.

Let Zurishaddai with the Polish Cock rejoice – The Lord restore peace to Europe.

Let Chesed rejoice with Strepsiceros, whose weapons are the ornaments of his peace.

Let Ibhar rejoice with the Pochard – a child born in prosperity is the chiefest blessing of peace.

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Samuel Butler: Religion of war

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

British writers on peace and war

Samuel Butler: Valor in modern warfare

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Samuel Butler
From Hudibras (1663)

Great on the bench, great in the saddle,
That could as well bind o’er, as swaddle;
Mighty he was at both of these,
And styl’d of war, as well as peace.
(So some rats, of amphibious nature,
Are either for the land or water).

The diff’rence was so small, his brain
Outweigh’d his rage but half a grain;
Which made some take him for a tool
That knaves do work with, call’d a fool…

For his Religion, it was fit
To match his learning and his wit;
‘Twas Presbyterian true blue;
For he was of that stubborn crew
Of errant saints, whom all men grant
To be the true Church Militant;
Such as do build their faith upon
The holy text of pike and gun;
Decide all controversies by
Infallible artillery;
And prove their doctrine orthodox
By apostolic blows and knocks;
Call fire and sword and desolation,
A godly thorough reformation…

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