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Walter Savage Landor: Some stopped revenge athirst for slaughter


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

British writers on peace and war


Walter Savage Landor

From On the Conflgration of the Po

Where once was fire, and men to men were true.
Fierce ones and faithless now approach the waste,
Who look transversely with an evil eye,
And scowl and threaten, and uplift the sword,
And, if they lower it, ’tis but to grasp more
And more of amber left on either bank. Apollo hates the land he once so loved,
Nor swan is seen nor nightingale is heard
Nigh the dead river and affrighted vale…

From To the River Avon

Avon! why runnest thou away so fast?
Rest thee before that Chancel where repose
The bones of him whose spirit moves the world.
I have beheld thy birthplace, I have seen
Thy tiny ripples where they play amid
The golden cups and ever-waving blades.
I have seen mighty rivers, I have seen
Padus, recovered from his fiery wound,
And Tiber, prouder than them all to bear
Upon his tawny bosom men who crusht
The world they trod on, heeding not the cries
Of culprit kings and nations many-tongued.
What are to me these rivers, once adorn’d
With crowns they would not wear but swept away?
Worthier art thou of worship, and I bend
My knees upon thy bank, and call thy name,
And hear, or think I hear, thy voice reply.


From Gebir

‘Some stopped revenge athirst for slaughter, some
Sowed the slow olive for a race unborn.
These had no wishes, therefore none are crowned;
But theirs are tufted banks, theirs umbrage, theirs
Enough of sunshine to enjoy the shade,
And breeze enough to lull them to repose.’

Oft the grave judge alarms religious wealth
And rouses anger under gentle words.
Woe to the wiser few who dare to cry
‘People! these men are not your enemies,
Inquire their errand, and resist when wronged.’

Through palaces and porches evil eyes
Light upon e’en the wretched, who have fled
The house of bondage or the house of birth;
Suspicions, murmurs, treacheries, taunts, retorts,
Attend the brighter banners that invade;
And the first horn of hunter, pale with want,
Sounds to the chase, the second to the war.

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