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Thomas Carew: Lust for gold fills the world with tumult, blood, and war


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

British writers on peace and war

Thomas Carew: They’ll hang their arms upon the olive bough


Thomas Carew

Is Troy more noble ’cause to ashes turned,
Than virgin cities that yet never burned?
Is fire, when it consumes
Temples, more fire, than when it melts perfumes?


Thus I enjoy my self, and taste the fruit
Of this blest Peace; whilst, toiled in the pursuit
Of bucks and stags, emblems of War, you strive
To keep the memory of our arms alive.


Plutus (Gold/Wealth)

If Virtue must inherit, she’s my slave;
I lead her captive in a golden chain
About the world; she takes her form and being
From my creation; and those barren seeds
That drop from Heaven, if I not cherish them
With my distilling dews and fotive heat,
They know no vegetation; but, exposed
To blasting winds of freezing Poverty.
Or not shoot forth at all, or budding wither.
Should I proclaim the daily sacrifice
Brought to my Temples by the toiling rout,
Not of the fat and gore of abject Beasts
But human sweat and blood pour’d on my Altars
I might provoke the envy of the gods.
Turn but your eyes, and mark the busy world,
Climbing steep Mountains for the sparkling stone.
Piercing the Centre for the shining Ore,
And th’ Ocean’s bosom to rake pearly sands :
Crossing the torrid and the frozen Zones,
‘Midst rocks and swallowing Gulfs, for gainful trade :
And through opposing swords, fire, murd’ring cannon,
Scaling the walled Town for precious spoils.

Witness Mount Ida, where the Martial Maid
And frowning Juno did to mortal eyes
Naked for gold their sacred bodies show!
Therefore for ever be from heaven banished:
But since with toil from undiscover’d Worlds
Thou art brought hither, where thou first did’st breathe
The thirst of Empire into Regal breasts,
And frightedst quiet Peace from her meek Throne,
Filling the World with tumult, blood, and war…


Ticke (Tyche/Fortune)

The revolutions of Empires, States,
Sceptres and Crowns, are but my game and sport,
Which as they hang on the events of War,
So these depend upon my turning wheel.
You warlike Squadrons, who, in battle join’d,
Dispute the Right of Kings, which I decide.
Present the model of that martial frame,
By which, when Crowns are staked, I rule the game!



[H]ave to that secure fix’d state advanced
Both you and them, to which the labouring world –
Wading through streams of blood – sweats to aspire.

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