Home > Uncategorized > Leigh Hunt: The devilish drouth of the cannon’s ever-gaping mouth

Leigh Hunt: The devilish drouth of the cannon’s ever-gaping mouth


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

British writers on peace and war

Leigh Hunt: Captain Sword and Captain Pen

Leigh Hunt: Some Remarks On War And Military Statesmen


Leigh Hunt
From Power and Gentleness

I’ve thought, at gentle and ungentle hour.
Of many an act and giant shape of power…
And then of all the fierce and bitter fruit
Of the proud planting of a tyrannous foot,-
Of bruised rights, and flourishing bad men,
And virtue wasting heavenwards from a den;
Brute force, and fury; and the devilish drouth
Of the fool cannon’s ever-gaping mouth;
And the bride-widowing sword; and the harsh bray
The sneering trumpet sends across the fray;
And all which lights the people-thinning star
That selfishness invokes, – the horsed war.
Panting along with many a bloody mane. –
I’ve thought of all this pride, and all this pain,
And all the insolent plenitudes of power,
And I declare, by this most quiet hour,
Which holds in different tasks by the fire-light
Me and my friends here, this delightful night.
That Power itself has not one half the might
Of Gentleness. ‘Tis want to all true wealth;
The uneasy madman’s force, to the wise health;
Blind downward beating, to the eyes that see;
Noise to persuasion, doubt to certainty;
The consciousness of strength in enemies,
Who must be strain’d upon, or else they rise;
The battle to the moon, who all the while.
High out of hearing, passes with her smile;
The tempest, trampling in his scanty run,
To the whole globe, that basks about the sun;
Or as all shrieks and clangs, with which a sphere.
Undone and fired, could rake the midnight ear,
Compared with that vast dumbness nature keeps
Throughout her starry deeps,
Most old, and mild, and awful, and unbroken.
Which tells a tale of peace beyond whate’er was spoken.

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