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Arthur Hugh Clough: Ye vulgar dreamers about peace

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

British writers on peace and war

Arthur Hugh Clough: For an impalpable odour of honour armies shall bleed

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Arthur Hugh Clough
From Dipsychus

There are two kindreds upon earth, I know.
The oppressors and the oppressed. But as for me,
If I must choose to inflict wrong, or accept,
May my last end, and life too, be with these.
Yes; whatsoe’er the reason, want of blood,
Lymphatic humours, or my childhood’s faith,
So is the thing, and be it well or ill,
I have no choice. I am a man of peace…

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To battle, to battle – haste, haste –
To battle, to battle – aha, aha!
On, on to the conqueror’s feast,
From east to west, and south and north,
Ye men of valour and of worth,
Ye mighty men of arms come forth,
And work your will, for that is just;
And in your impulse put your trust,
Beneath your feet the fools are dust.
Alas, alas! grief and wrong,
The good are weak, the wicked strong;
And my God, how long, how long!
Dong, there is no God; dong.
Ring, ting; to bow before the strong,
There is a rapture too in this;
Work for thy master, work, thou slave –
He is not merciful, but brave.

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Ring ding, ring ding, tara, tara,
Away, and hush that preaching – fagh!
Ye vulgar dreamers about peace…

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Exacter rules than yours we know;
Resentment’s rule, and that high law
Of whoso best the sword can draw.

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