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William Lisle Bowles: As War’s black trump pealed its terrific blast

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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 Missionary

With murmured prayer, when Mercy stood aghast,
As War’s black trump pealed its terrific blast,
And o’er the withered earth the armed giant passed!
Ye, who his track with terror have pursued,
When some delightful land, all blood-imbrued,
He swept; where silent is the champaign wide,
That echoed to the pipe of yester-tide,
Save, when far off, the moonlight hills prolong
The last deep echoes of his parting gong;
Nor aught is seen, in the deserted spot
Where trailed the smoke of many a peaceful cot,
Save livid corses that unburied lie,
And conflagrations, reeking to the sky…

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When the trump echoed to the quiet spot,
He thought upon the world, but mourned it not;
Enough if his meek wisdom could control,
And bend to mercy, one proud soldier’s soul…

When will the turmoil of earth’s tempests cease?
Father, I come to thee for peace – for peace!

Such is the conqueror’s dread path: the grave
Yawns for its millions where his banners wave;
But shall vain man, whose life is but a sigh,
With sullen acquiescence gaze and die?

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