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Thomas Campbell: Shall War’s polluted banner ne’er be furl’d?


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

British writers on peace and war

Thomas Campbell: Selections on peace and war


Thomas Campbell
From Pleasures of Hope

Primeval Hope, the Aonian Muses say.
When Man and Nature mourn’d their first decay;
When every form of death, and every woe,
Shot from malignant stars to earth below;
When Murder bared her arm, and rampant War
Yoked the red dragons of her iron car;
When Peace and Mercy, banish’d from the plain,
Sprung on the viewless winds to Heaven again;
All, all forsook the friendless, guilty mind,
But Hope, the charmer, linger’d still behind.


Where barbarous hordes on Scythian mountains roam,
Truth, Mercy, Freedom, yet shall find a home;
Where’er degraded Nature bleeds and pines,
From Guinea’s coast to Sibir’s dreary mines.
Truth shall pervade th’ unfathom’d darkness there.
And light the dreadful features of despair –
Hark! the stern captive spurns his heavy load,
And asks the image back that Heaven bestow’d!
Fierce in his eye the fire of valor burns.
And, as the slave departs, the man returns.


Man! can thy doom no brighter soul allow?
Still must thou live a blot on Nature’s brow?
Shall War’s polluted banner ne’er be furl’d?
Shall crimes and tyrants cease but with the world?
What! are thy triumphs, sacred Truth, belied?

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