Home > Uncategorized > Byron: All ills past, present and to come yield to the true portrait of one battle-field

Byron: All ills past, present and to come yield to the true portrait of one battle-field

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

British writers on peace and war

Byron: Selections on war

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Byron
From Don Juan

Mortality! thou hast thy monthly bills;
Thy plagues, thy famines, thy physicians, yet tick,
Like the death-watch, within our ears the ills
Past, present, and to come; – but all may yield
To the true portrait of one battle-field.

There the still varying pangs, which multiply
Until their very number makes men hard
By the infinities of agony,
Which meet the gaze whate’er it may regard –
The groan, the roll in dust, the all-white eye
Turn’d back within its socket, – these reward
Your rank and file by thousands, while the rest
May win perhaps a riband at the breast!

Yet I love glory; – glory’s a great thing: –
Think what it is to be in your old age
Maintain’d at the expense of your good king:
A moderate pension shakes full many a sage,
And heroes are but made for bards to sing,
Which is still better; thus in verse to wage
Your wars eternally, besides enjoying
Half-pay for life, make mankind worth destroying.

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