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John Wilmot: With war I’ve not to do

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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.

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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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