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Henry Vaughan: The Men of War


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?


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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