Home > Uncategorized > Samuel Taylor Coleridge: War is a murderous fiend, by fiends adored

Samuel Taylor Coleridge: War is a murderous fiend, by fiends adored


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

British writers on peace and war

Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Selections on peace and war


Samuel Taylor Coleridge
The Christmas Carol

The shepherds went their hasty way,
And found the lowly stable shed,
Where the Virgin-Mother lay:
And now they checked their eager tread,
For to the Babe, that at her bosom clung,
A mother’s song the Virgin-Mother sung.

They told her how a glorious light,
Streaming from a heavenly throng,
Around them shone, suspending night,
While sweeter than a mother’s song
Blest angels heralded the Saviour’s birth,
Glory to God on high! and peace on earth.

She listened to the tale divine,
And closer still the Babe she prest;
And while she cried, “The Babe is mine!”
The milk rushed faster to her breast.
Joy rose within her, like a summer’s morn.
Peace, peace on earth! the Prince of Peace is born.

“Thou Mother of the Prince of Peace,
Poor, simple, and of low estate!
That strife should vanish, battle cease,
Oh, why should this thy soul elate?
Sweet music’s loudest note, the poet’s story, –
Did’st thou ne’er love to hear of fame and glory?

“And is not war a youthful king,
A stately hero clad in mail?
Beneath his footsteps laurels spring,
Him, earth’s majestic monarchs hail
Their friend, their playmate; and his bold bright eye
Compels the maiden’s love-confessing sigh.”

“Tell this in some more courtly scene,
To maids and youths in robes of state.
I am a woman poor and mean,
And therefore is my soul elate.
War is a ruffian, all with guilt defiled,
That from the aged father tears his child!

“A murderous fiend, by fiends adored,
He kills the sire and starves the son;
The husband kills, and from her board
Steals all his widow’s toil had won,
Plunders God’s world of beauty; rends away
All safety from the night, all comfort from the day.

“Then wisely is my soul elate
That strife should vanish, battle cease:
I’m poor and of a low estate,
The mother of the Prince of Peace.
Joy rises in me, like a summer’s morn.
Peace, peace on earth! the Prince of Peace is born.”

Strange prophecy! If all the screams
Of all the men who since have died
To realise war’s kingly dreams,
Had risen at once in one vast tide,
The choral song of that blest multitude
Had been o’erpowered and lost amid the uproar rude.


From Ode to Tranquillity

The feeling heart, the searching soul,
To thee I dedicate the whole!
And while within myself I trace
The greatness of some future race,
Aloof with hermit-eye I scan
The present works of present man –
A wild and dream-like trade of blood and guile,
Too foolish for a tear, too wicked for a smile!

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