Home > Uncategorized > Percy Bysshe Shelley: The unholy song of war

Percy Bysshe Shelley: The unholy song of war

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

British writers on peace and war

Percy Bysshe Shelley: Selections on war

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Percy Bysshe Shelley
From Queen Mab

‘Palmyra’s ruined palaces!
Behold where grandeur frowned!
Behold where pleasure smiled!
What now remains? – the memory
Of senselessness and shame.
What is immortal there?
Nothing – it stands to tell
A melancholy tale, to give
An awful warning; soon
Oblivion will steal silently
The remnant of its fame.
Monarchs and conquerors there
Proud o’er prostrate millions trod –
The earthquakes of the human race;
Like them, forgotten when the ruin
That marks their shock is past…’

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There an inhuman and uncultured race
Howled hideous praises to their Demon-God;
They rushed to war, tore from the mother’s womb
The unborn child – old age and infancy
Promiscuous perished; their victorious arms
Left not a soul to breathe. Oh! they were fiends!
But what was he who taught them that the God
Of Nature and benevolence had given
A special sanction to the trade of blood?

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‘O dear and blessèd Peace,
Why dost thou shroud thy vestal purity
In penury and dungeons? Wherefore lurkest
With danger, death, and solitude; yet shun’st
The palace I have built thee? Sacred Peace!
Oh, visit me but once, – but pitying shed
One drop of balm upon my withered soul!’

‘Spirit! ten thousand years
Have scarcely passed away,
Since in the waste, where now the savage drinks
His enemy’s blood, and, aping Europe’s sons,
Wakes the unholy song of war…’

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. May 29, 2017 at 5:06 am

    This piece is incredibly sad, and quite fitting for our times. Nothing has changed.

  2. May 30, 2017 at 6:40 am

    Reblogged this on Boycott and commented:
    « errare humanum est, perseverare diabolicum »

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