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Joseph Cottle: Warn mankind to shun the hostile spear


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

British writers on peace and war

Joseph Cottle: Selections on war


Joseph Cottle
From War, A Fragment

“I see the wolves, that once like lambs did bleat,
“I see the serpents coiling at my feet,
“Whose soft persuasive words, and fatal craft,
“Led me from home to drink this bitter draught:
“Mark you the cause that laid me bleeding here,
“And warn mankind to shun the hostile spear;
“Rais’d but to please some haughty Lordling’s pride,
“Made but to pierce the harmless Peasant’s side.”


That time shall also come, nor slowly creep.
When Justice, starting from her couch of sleep,
Shall seize her long-neglected sword of fate,
And call to vengeance earth’s devouring Great;
Terror shall then the Conqueror’s brow o’ercast.
The war-delighting Monarch stand aghast;
Dismay corrode the darting Despot’s breast,
When doom’d to meet the Ghosts his chains oppress’d.


Scourgers of earth, and Heralds of dismay,
Pests of mankind, and whirlwinds of their day;
From whose example blushing History rakes
Her nest of Scorpions, and her brood of Snakes;
Who, plac’d on thrones like these, like these have hurl’d
War’s wafting firebrands o’er a suff’ring world.

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