Archive

Archive for November, 2016

Abraham Cowley: Like the peace, but think it comes too late

November 30, 2016 Leave a comment

====

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

British writers on peace and war

Abraham Cowley: Only peace breeds scarcity in Hell

Abraham Cowley: To give peace and then the rules of peace

====

Abraham Cowley

This happy concord in no blood is writ,
None can grudge Heaven full thanks for it:
No mothers here lament their children’s fate.
And like the peace, but think it comes too late.
No widows hear the jocund bells.
And take them for their husbands’ knells:
No drop of blood is spilt, which might be said
To mark our joyful holiday with red.

***

The armour now may be hung up to sight.
And only in their halls the children fright.
The gain of civil wars will not allow
Bay to the conqueror’s brow:
At such a game what fool would venture in.
Where one must lose, yet neither side can win?

Advertisements
Categories: Uncategorized

Edward Young: End of war the herald of wisdom and poetry

November 29, 2016 Leave a comment

====

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

British writers on peace and war

Edward Young: Selections on peace and war

====

Edward Young
From An Epistle to the Right Hon. George Lord Lansdowne

Now war is weary, and retir’d to rest;
The meagre famine, and the spotted pest,
Deputed in her stead, may blast the day,
And sweep the relics of the sword away.
When peaceful Numa fill’d the Roman throne,
Jove in the fulness of his glory shone;
Wise Solomon, a stranger to the sword,
Was born to raise a temple to the Lord.

***

Of greater things than peace or war inquire;
Fully content, and unconcern’d, to know
What farther passes in the world below.
The bravest of mankind shall now have leave
To die but once, nor piece-meal seek the grave:
On gain or pleasure bent, we shall not meet
Sad melancholy numbers in each street
(Owners of bones dispers’d on Flandria’s plain,
Or wasting in the bottom of the main);
To turn us back from joy, in tender fear,
Lest it an insult of their woes appear,
And make us grudge ourselves that wealth, their blood
Perhaps preserv’d, who starve, or beg for food.
Devotion shall run pure, and disengage
From that strange fate of mixing peace with rage.
On heaven without a sin we now may call,
And guiltless to our Maker prostrate fall;
Be Christians while we pray, nor in one breath
Ask mercy for ourselves, for others death.

***

Much we shall triumph in our battles past,
And yet consent those battles prove our last;
Lest, while in arms for brighter fame we strive,
We lose the means to keep that fame alive.
In silent groves the birds delight to sing,
Or near the margin of a secret spring:
Now all is calm, sweet music shall improve,
Nor kindle rage, but be the nurse of love.

***

The thunder of the battle ceas’d to roar,
Ere Greece her godlike poets taught to soar;
Rome’s dreadful foe, great Hannibal, was dead,
And all her warlike neighbours round her bled;
For Janus shut, her Iö Pæans rung,
Before an Ovid or a Virgil sung.

Categories: Uncategorized

Edward Young: No more the rising harvest whets the sword, now peace, though long repuls’d, arrives at last

November 28, 2016 Leave a comment

====

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

British writers on peace and war

Edward Young: Selections on peace and war

====

Edward Young

From On the Late Queen’s Death, And His Majesty’s Accession to the Throne

Heroes returning from the field we crown,
And deify the haughty victor’s frown.
His splendid wealth too rashly we admire,
Catch the disease, and burn with equal fire:
Wisely to spend, is the great art of gain;
And one reliev’d transcends a million slain.
When time shall ask, where once Ramillia lay,
Or Danube flow’d that swept whole troops away,
One drop of water, that refresh’d the dry,
Shall rise a fountain of eternal joy.

***

From An Epistle to the Right Hon. George Lord Lansdowne

Long has the western world reclin’d her head,
Pour’d forth her sorrow, and bewail’d her dead;
Fell discord through her borders fiercely rang’d,
And shook her nations, and her monarchs chang’d;
By land and sea, its utmost rage employ’d;
Nor heaven repair’d so fast as men destroy’d.
In vain kind summers plentuous fields bestow’d,
In vain the vintage liberally flow’d;
Alarms from loaden boards all pleasures chas’d,
And robb’d the rich Burgundian grape of taste;
The smiles of Nature could no blessing bring,
The fruitful autumn, or the flowery spring;
Time was distinguish’d by the sword and spear,
Not by the various aspects of the year;
The trumpet’s sound proclaim’d a milder sky,
And bloodshed told us when the sun was nigh.

Now peace, though long repuls’d, arrives at last,
And bids us smile on all our labours past;
Bids every nation cease her wonted moan,
And every monarch call his crown his own:
To valour gentler virtues now succeed;
No longer is the great man born to bleed;

No more the rising harvest whets the sword,
No longer waves uncertain of its lord;
Who cast the seed, the golden sheaf shall claim,
Nor chance of battle change the master’s name.
Each stream unstain’d with blood more smoothly flows;
The brighter sun a fuller day bestows…

Categories: Uncategorized

Edward Young: Reason’s a bloodless conqueror, more glorious than the sword

November 27, 2016 Leave a comment

====

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

British writers on peace and war

Edward Young: Selections on peace and war

====

Edward Young

From Resignation

Nor…be surpris’d to hear
That laurels may be due
Not more to heroes of the field,
(Proud boasters!) than to you…

Beneath a banner nobler far
Than ever was unfurl’d
In fields of blood; a banner bright!
High wav’d o’er all the world.
It, like a streaming meteor, casts
A universal light…

The billows stain’d by slaughter’d foes
Inferior praise afford;
Reason’s a bloodless conqueror,
More glorious than the sword.

***

From The Last Day

A life well spent, not the victorious sword,
Awards the crown, and styles the greater lord.
Nor monuments alone, and burial-earth,
Labours with man to this his second birth;
But where gay palaces in pomp arise,
And gilded theatres invade the skies,
Nations shall wake, whose unrespected bones
Support the pride of their luxurious sons.
The most magnificent and costly dome
Is but an upper chamber to the tomb.

Categories: Uncategorized

William Wordsworth: If men with men in peace abide, all other strength the weakest may withstand

November 16, 2016 Leave a comment

====

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

British writers on peace and war

William Wordsworth: Selections on peace and war

====

William Wordsworth

From Journey Renewed

And now, if men with men in peace abide,
All other strength the weakest may withstand,
All worse assaults may safely be defied.

***

From The River Duddon

But here no cannon thunders to the gale;
Upon the wave no haughty pendants cast
A crimson splendour: lowly is the mast
That rises here, and humbly spread, the sail;
While, less disturbed than in the narrow Vale
Through which with strange vicissitudes he passed,
The Wanderer seeks that receptacle vast
Where all his unambitious functions fail
And may thy Poet, cloud-born Stream! be free –
The sweets of earth contentedly resigned,
And each tumultuous working left behind
At seemly distance – to advance like Thee;
Prepared, in peace of heart, in calm of mind
And soul, to mingle with Eternity!

***

From 1810

Overweening Statesmen have full long relied
On fleets and armies, and external wealth:
But from within proceeds a Nation’s health…

***

From Guilt and Sorrow
Or Incidents Upon Salisbury Plain

“Bad is the world, and hard is the world’s law
Even for the man who wears the warmest fleece;
Much need have ye that time more closely draw
The bond of nature, all unkindness cease,
And that among so few there still be peace:
Else can ye hope but with such numerous foes
Your pains shall ever with your years increase?”

***

From On the Power of Sound

The trumpet (we, intoxicate with pride,
Arm at its blast for deadly wars)
To archangelic lips applied,
The grave shall open, quench the stars.

***

From Peter Bell

Away we go – and what care we
For treasons, tumults, and for wars?
We are as calm in our delight
As is the crescent-moon so bright
Among the scattered stars.

The Crab, the Scorpion, and the Bull –
We pry among them all; have shot
High o’er the red-haired race of Mars,
Covered from top to toe with scars;
Such company I like it not!

***

Hart-Leap Well
Part Second

The moving accident is not my trade;
To freeze the blood I have no ready arts:
‘Tis my delight, alone in summer shade,
To pipe a simple song for thinking hearts.

As I from Hawes to Richmond did repair,
It chanced that I saw standing in a dell
Three aspens at three corners of a square;
And one, not four yards distant, near a well.

What this imported I could ill divine:
And, pulling now the rein my horse to stop,
I saw three pillars standing in a line, –
The last stone-pillar on a dark hill-top.

The trees were grey, with neither arms nor head;
Half wasted the square mound of tawny green;
So that you just might say, as then I said,
“Here in old time the hand of man hath been.”

I looked upon the hill both far and near,
More doleful place did never eye survey;
It seemed as if the spring-time came not here,
And Nature here were willing to decay.

I stood in various thoughts and fancies lost,
When one, who was in shepherd’s garb attired,
Came up the hollow: – him did I accost,
And what this place might be I then inquired.

The Shepherd stopped, and that same story told
Which in my former rhyme I have rehearsed.
“A jolly place,” said he, “in times of old!
But something ails it now: the spot is curst.

“You see these lifeless stumps of aspen wood –
Some say that they are beeches, others elms –
These were the bower; and here a mansion stood,
The finest palace of a hundred realms!

“The arbour does its own condition tell;
You see the stones, the fountain, and the stream;
But as to the great Lodge! you might as well
Hunt half a day for a forgotten dream.

“There’s neither dog nor heifer, horse nor sheep,
Will wet his lips within that cup of stone;
And oftentimes, when all are fast asleep,
This water doth send forth a dolorous groan.

“Some say that here a murder has been done,
And blood cries out for blood: but, for my part,
I’ve guessed, when I’ve been sitting in the sun,
That it was all for that unhappy Hart.

“What thoughts must through the creature’s brain have past!
Even from the topmost stone, upon the steep,
Are but three bounds – and look, Sir, at this last –
O Master! it has been a cruel leap.

“For thirteen hours he ran a desperate race;
And in my simple mind we cannot tell
What cause the Hart might have to love this place,
And come and make his deathbed near the well.

“Here on the grass perhaps asleep he sank,
Lulled by the fountain in the summer-tide;
This water was perhaps the first he drank
When he had wandered from his mother’s side.

“In April here beneath the flowering thorn
He heard the birds their morning carols sing;
And he, perhaps, for aught we know, was born
Not half a furlong from that self-same spring.

“Now, here is neither grass nor pleasant shade;
The sun on drearier hollow never shone;
So will it be, as I have often said,
Till trees, and stones, and fountain, all are gone.”

“Grey-headed Shepherd, thou hast spoken well;
Small difference lies between thy creed and mine:
This Beast not unobserved by Nature fell;
His death was mourned by sympathy divine.

“The Being, that is in the clouds and air,
That is in the green leaves among the groves,
Maintains a deep and reverential care
For the unoffending creatures whom he loves.

“The pleasure-house is dust: – behind, before,
This is no common waste, no common gloom;
But Nature, in due course of time, once more
Shall here put on her beauty and her bloom.

“She leaves these objects to a slow decay,
That what we are, and have been, may be known;
But at the coming of the milder day,
These monuments shall all be overgrown.

“One lesson, Shepherd, let us two divide,
Taught both by what she shows, and what conceals;
Never to blend our pleasure or our pride
With sorrow of the meanest thing that feels.”

Categories: Uncategorized

Robert Browning: Peace rises within them ever more and more

November 14, 2016 Leave a comment

====

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

British writers on peace and war

Robert Browning: Selections on peace and war

====

Robert Browning

From Paracelsus

For men begin to pass their nature’s bound,
And find new hopes and cares which fast supplant
Their proper joys and griefs; they grow too great
For narrow creeds of right and wrong, which fade
Before the unmeasured thirst for good: while peace
Rises within them ever more and more.
Such men are even now upon the earth,
Serene amid the half-formed creatures round
Who should be saved by them and joined with them.

***

From Strafford: A Tragedy

I! I! that was never spoken with
Till it was entered on! That loathe the war!
That say it is the maddest, wickedest …
Do you know, sir, I think within my heart,
That you would say I did advise the war…

***

From Sordello

As you then were, as half yourself, desist!
The warrior-part of you may, an it list,
Finding real falchions difficult to poise,
Fling them afar and taste the cream of joys
By wielding such in fancy…

But all is changed the moment you descry
Mankind as half yourself, – then, fancy’s trade
Ends once and always: how may half evade
The other half? men are found half of you.
Out of a thousand helps, just one or two
Can be accomplished presently…

See if, for that, your other half will stop
Should the new sympathies allow you.
A tear, begin a smile! The rabble’s woes,
Ludicrous in their patience as they chose
To sit about their town and quietly
Be slaughtered, – the poor reckless soldiery,
With their ignoble rhymes on Richard, how
‘Polt-foot,’ sang they, ‘was in a pitfall now,’
Cheering each other from the engine-mounts…

***

Air, flame, earth, wave at conflict! Then, needs must
Emerge some Calm embodied, these refer
The brawl to – yellow-bearded Jupiter?
No! Saturn; some existence like a pact
And protest against Chaos, some first fact
I’ the faint of time.

Categories: Uncategorized

William Wordsworth: Selections on peace and war

November 13, 2016 Leave a comment
Categories: Uncategorized

William Wordsworth: Spreading peaceful ensigns over war’s favourite playground

November 7, 2016 Leave a comment

====

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

British writers on peace and war

William Wordsworth: Selections on peace and war

====

William Wordsworth

From 1810

Overweening Statesmen have full long relied
On fleets and armies, and external wealth:
But from within proceeds a Nation’s health…

From Ode

Wide-wasted regions – cities wrapt in flame –
Who sees, may lift a streaming eye
To Heaven; – who never saw, may heave a sigh;
But the foundation of our nature shakes,
And with an infinite pain the spirit aches,
When desolated countries, towns on fire,
Are but the avowed attire
Of warfare waged with desperate mind
Against the life of virtue in mankind;
Assaulting without ruth
The citadels of truth;
While the fair gardens of civility,
By ignorance defaced,
By violence laid waste,
Perish without reprieve for flower or tree!

Between Namur and Liege

What lovelier home could gentle Fancy choose?
Is this the stream, whose cities, heights, and plains,
War’s favourite playground, are with crimson stains
Familiar, as the Morn with pearly dews?
The Morn, that now, along the silver MEUSE,
Spreading her peaceful ensigns, calls the swains
To tend their silent boats and ringing wains,
Or strip the bough whose mellow fruit bestrews
The ripening corn beneath it. As mine eyes
Turn from the fortified and threatening hill,
How sweet the prospect of yon watery glade,
With its grey rocks clustering in pensive shade –
That, shaped like old monastic turrets, rise
From the smooth meadow-ground, serene and still!

Categories: Uncategorized

William Wordsworth: Earth’s groaning field, where ruthless mortals wage incessant wars

November 6, 2016 Leave a comment

====

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

British writers on peace and war

William Wordsworth: Selections on peace and war

====

William Wordsworth
Composed by the Side of Grassmere Lake

Clouds, lingering yet, extend in solid bars
Through the grey west; and lo! these waters, steeled
By breezeless air to smoothest polish, yield
A vivid repetition of the stars;
Jove, Venus, and the ruddy crest of Mars
Amid his fellows beauteously revealed
At happy distance from earth’s groaning field,
Where ruthless mortals wage incessant wars.
Is it a mirror? – or the nether Sphere
Opening to view the abyss in which she feeds 10
Her own calm fires? – But list! a voice is near;
Great Pan himself low-whispering through the reeds,
“Be thankful, thou; for, if unholy deeds
Ravage the world, tranquillity is here!”

***

Go back to antique ages, if thine eyes
The genuine mien and character would trace
Of the rash Spirit that still holds her place,
Prompting the world’s audacious vanities!
Go back, and see the Tower of Babel rise;
The pyramid extend its monstrous base,
For some Aspirant of our short-lived race,
Anxious an aery name to immortalize.
There, too, ere wiles and politic dispute
Gave specious colouring to aim and act,
See the first mighty Hunter leave the brute
To chase mankind, with men in armies packed
For his field-pastime high and absolute,
While, to dislodge his game, cities are sacked!

Categories: Uncategorized

William Wordsworth: Peace in these feverish times is sovereign bliss

November 3, 2016 Leave a comment

====

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

British writers on peace and war

William Wordsworth: Selections on peace and war

====

William Wordsworth
Retirement

If the whole weight of what we think and feel,
Save only far as thought and feeling blend
With action, were as nothing, patriot Friend!
From thy remonstrance would be no appeal;
But to promote and fortify the weal
Of our own Being is her paramount end;
A truth which they alone shall comprehend
Who shun the mischief which they cannot heal.
Peace in these feverish times is sovereign bliss:
Here, with no thirst but what the stream can slake,
And startled only by the rustling brake,
Cool air I breathe; while the unincumbered Mind
By some weak aims at services assigned
To gentle Natures, thanks not Heaven amiss.

***

Untitled sonnet

Not Love, not War, nor the tumultuous swell,
Of civil conflict, nor the wrecks of change,
Nor Duty struggling with afflictions strange –
Not these ‘alone’ inspire the tuneful shell;
But where untroubled peace and concord dwell,
There also is the Muse not loth to range,
Watching the twilight smoke of cot or grange,
Skyward ascending from a woody dell.
Meek aspirations please her, lone endeavour,
And sage content, and placid melancholy;
She loves to gaze upon a crystal river –
Diaphanous because it travels slowly;
Soft is the music that would charm for ever;
The flower of sweetest smell is shy and lowly.

Categories: Uncategorized