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Thomas Campbell: Sending whirlwind warrants forth to rouse the slumbering fiends of war


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 Lines on Leaving a Scene in Bavaria

The world and falsehood left behind,
Thy votary shall bear elate,
(Triumphant o’er opposing Fate,)
His dark inspired mind.

But dost thou, Folly, mock the Muse
A wanderer’s mountain walk to sing,
Who shuns a warring world, nor woos
The vulture cover of its wing?
Then fly, thou cowering, shivering thing,
Back to the fostering world beguiled,
To waste in self-consuming strife
The loveless brotherhood of life,
Reviling and reviled!

Away, thou lover of the race
That hither chased yon weeping deer!
If Nature’s all majestic face
More pitiless than man’s appear;
Or if the wild winds seem more drear
Than man’s cold charities below,
Behold around his peopled plains,
Where’er the social savage reigns,
Exuberance of wo!

His art and honors wouldst thou seek
Emboss’d on grandeur’s giant walls?
Or hear his moral thunders speak
Where senates light their airy halls,
Where man his brother man enthralls;
Or sends his whirlwind warrants forth
To rouse the slumbering fiends of war,
To dye the blood-warm waves afar,
And desolate the earth?

From clime to clime pursue the scene.
And mark in all thy spacious way,
Where’er the tyrant man has been,
There Peace, the cherub, cannot stay;
In wilds and woodlands far away
She builds her solitary bower.
Where only anchorites have trod.
Or friendless men, to worship God,
Have wander’d for an hour.

In such a far forsaken vale, —
And such, sweet Eldurn vale, is thine, —
Afflicted nature shall inhale
Heaven-borrow’d thoughts and joys divine;
No longer wish, no more repine
For man’s neglect or woman’s scorn ;
Then wed thee to an exile’s lot.
For if the world hath loved thee not,
Its absence may be borne.


From Lines on Revisiting a Scottish River

One heart free tasting Nature’s breath and bloom
Is worth a thousand slaves to Mammon’s gains.
But whither goes that wealth, and gladdening whom?
See, left but life enough and breathing-room
The hunger and the hope of life to feel,
Yon pale Mechanic bending o’er his loom,
And Childhood’s self as at Ixion’s wheel,
From morn till midnight task’d to earn its little meal.

Is this Improvement? – where the human breed
Degenerates as they swarm and overflow,
Till Toil grows cheaper than the trodden weed,
And man competes with man, like foe with foe,
Till Death, that thins them, scarce seems public wo?
Improvement ! — smiles it in the poor man’s eyes,
Or blooms it on the cheek of Labor ? – No –

To gorge a few with Trade’s precarious prize.
We banish rural life, and breathe unwholesome skies.
Nor call that evil slight; God has not given
This passion to the heart of man in vain.
For Earth’s green face, th’ untainted air of Heaven,
And all the bliss of Nature’s rustic reign.
For not alone our frame imbibes a stain
From foetid skies; the spirit’s healthy pride
Fades in their gloom — And therefore I complain.
That thou no more through pastoral scenes shouldst glide.
My Wallace’s own stream, and once romantic Clyde!

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