Home > Uncategorized > William Lisle Bowles: Grim-visaged War drowns with his trumpet’s blast a brother’s cries

William Lisle Bowles: Grim-visaged War drowns with his trumpet’s blast a brother’s cries

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

British writers on peace and war

William Lisle Bowles: Selections on war and peace

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William Lisle Bowles
From The Battle of the Nile

Hasten, O God! the time, when never more
Pale Pity, from her moonlight seat shall hear,
And dropping at the sound a fruitless tear,
The far-off battle’s melancholy roar;
When never more Horror’s portentous cry
Shall sound amid the troubled sky;
Or dark Destruction’s grimly-smiling mien,
Through the red flashes of the fight be seen!
Father in heaven! our ardent hopes fulfil;
Thou speakest “Peace,” and the vexed world is still!

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From St. Michael’s Mount

For now the glittering domes crash from on high –
And hark, a strange and lamentable cry!
It ceases, and the tide’s departing roar
Alone is heard upon the desert shore,
That, as it sweeps with slow huge swell away,
Remorseless mutters o’er its buried prey.
So Ruin hurrieth o’er this shaken ball:
He bids his blast go forth, and lo! doth fall
A Carthage or a Rome. Then rolls the tide
Of deep Forgetfulness, whelming the pride
Of man, his shattered and forsaken bowers,
His noiseless cities, and his prostrate towers.

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If o’er the southern wave we turn our sight,
More dismal shapes of hideous woe affright:
Grim-visaged War, that ruthless, as he hies,
Drowns with his trumpet’s blast a brother’s cries;
And Massacre, by yelling furies led,
With ghastly grin and eye-balls rolling red!
O’er a vast field, wide heaped with festering slain,
Hark! how the Demon Passions shout amain,
And cry, exulting, while the death-storm lowers,
Hurrah! the kingdoms of the world are ours!

Therefore I mourn for man, and sighing say,
As down the steep I wind my homeward way,
Oh, when will Earth’s long muttering tempests cease,
And all be sunshine (like this scene) and peace!

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