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


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.

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