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Archive for June, 2017

Alfred Lord Tennyson: Selections on war and peace

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

British writers on peace and war

 

Alfred Lord Tennyson: Selections on war and peace

 

Alfred Lord Tennyson: The brazen bridge of war

Alfred Lord Tennyson: I would the old God of war himself were dead

Alfred Tennyson: Ring out the thousand wars of old, ring in the thousand years of peace

Tennyson: Till the war-drum throbb’d no longer, and the battle-flags were furl’d

Alfred Lord Tennyson: When shall universal peace lie like light across the land?

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Elizabeth Barrett Browning: War’s human harvest

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

British writers on peace and war

Elizabeth Barrett Browning: Exalt the name of Peace and leave those rusty wars that eat the soul

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Elizabeth Barrett Browning
From The Cry of the Human

The battle hurtles on the plains,
Earth feels new scythes upon her;
We reap our brothers for the wains,
And call the harvest – honour.
Draw face to face, front line to line,
Our image all inherit:
Then kill, curse on, by that same sign,
Clay, clay, – and spirit, spirit.
Be pitiful, O God!

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Alfred Lord Tennyson: I would the old God of war himself were dead

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

British writers on peace and war

Alfred Lord Tennyson: Selections on war and peace

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Alfred Lord Tennyson
From The Princess

‘I would the old God of war himself were dead,
Forgotten, rusting on his iron hills,
Rotting on some wild shore with ribs of wreck,
Or like an old-world mammoth bulk’d in ice,
Not to be molten out.’

***

From In Memoriam A.H.H.

Sweet after showers, ambrosial air,
That rollest from the gorgeous gloom
Of evening over brake and bloom
And meadow, slowly breathing bare

The round of space, and rapt below
Thro’ all the dewy-tassell’d wood,
And shadowing down the horned flood
In ripples, fan my brows and blow

The fever from my cheek, and sigh
The full new life that feeds thy breath
Throughout my frame, till Doubt and Death,
Ill brethren, let the fancy fly

From belt to belt of crimson seas
On leagues of odour streaming far,
To where in yonder orient star
A hundred spirits whisper `Peace.’

***

And I myself, who sat apart
And watch’d them, wax’d in every limb;
I felt the thews of Anakim,
The pulses of a Titan’s heart;

As one would sing the death of war,
And one would chant the history
Of that great race, which is to be,
And one the shaping of a star…

***

From Ode Sung at the Opening of the International Exhibition

O ye, the wise who think, the wise who reign,
From growing commerce loose her latest chain,
And let the fair white-winged peacemaker fly
To happy havens under all the sky,
And mix the seasons and the golden hours,
Till each man finds his own in all men’s good,
And all men work in noble brotherhood,
Breaking their mailed fleets and armed towers,
And ruling by obeying Nature’s powers,
And gathering all the fruits of peace and crown’d with all her flowers.

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Dante Gabriel Rossetti: Shall Peace be still a sunk stream long unmet?

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

British writers on peace and war

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Dante Gabriel Rossetti
From The One Hope

When vain desire at last and vain regret
Go hand in hand to death, and all is vain,
What shall assuage the unforgotten pain
And teach the unforgetful to forget?
Shall Peace be still a sunk stream long unmet, –
Or may the soul at once in a green plain
Stoop through the spray of some sweet life-fountain
And cull the dew-drenched flowering amulet?

Ah! when the wan soul in that golden air
Between the scriptured petals softly blown
Peers breathless for the gift of grace unknown, –
Ah! let none other alien spell soe’er
But only the one Hope’s one name be there,-
Not less nor more, but even that word alone.

***

From The Cloud Confines

What of the heart of hate
That beats in thy breast, O Time?
Red strife from the furthest prime,
And anguish of fierce debate;
War that shatters her slain,
And peace that grinds them as grain,
And eyes fix’d ever in vain
On the pitiless eyes of Fate.
Still we say as we go,
“Strange to think by the way,
Whatever there is to know,
That shall we know one day.”

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Alfred Lord Tennyson: When shall universal peace lie like light across the land?

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

British writers on peace and war

Alfred Lord Tennyson: Selections on war and peace

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Alfred Lord Tennyson
From The Golden Year

“When wealth no more shall rest in mounded heaps,
But smit with freer light shall slowly melt
In many streams to fatten lower lands,
And light shall spread, and man be liker man
Thro’ all the season of the golden year.

“Fly happy happy sails and bear the Press;
Fly happy with the mission of the Cross;
Knit land to land, and blowing havenward
With silks, and fruits, and spices, clear of toll,
Enrich the markets of the golden year.

“But we grow old! Ah! when shall all men’s good
Be each man’s rule, and universal Peace
Lie like a shaft of light across the land,
And like a lane of beams athwart the sea,
Thro’ all the circle of the golden year?”

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Alfred Lord Tennyson: The brazen bridge of war

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

British writers on peace and war

Alfred Lord Tennyson: Selections on war and peace

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Alfred Lord Tennyson

From Love Though thy Land, with Love for Brought

O, yet, if Nature’s evil star
Drive men in manhood, as in youth,
To follow flying steps of Truth
Across the brazen bridge of war –

If New and Old, disastrous feud,
Must ever shock, like armed foes,
And this be true, till Time shall close
That Principles are rain’d in blood;

Not yet the wise of heart would cease
To hold his hope thro’ shame and guilt,
But with his hand against the hilt,
Would pace the troubled land, like Peace…

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From Audley Court

“Oh! who would fight and march and countermarch,
Be shot for sixpence in a battle-field,
And shovell’d up into some bloody trench
Where no one knows? but let me live my life.”

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John Milton: What can war but endless war still breed?

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

British writers on peace and war

Milton: Men levy cruel wars, wasting the earth, each other to destroy

Milton: Without ambition, war, or violence

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John Milton
From Sonnet 15

For what can war but endless war still breed?
      Till Truth and Right from Violence be freed,
And Public Faith clear’d from the shameful brand
      Of Public Fraud. In vain doth Valour bleed
      While Avarice and Rapine share the land.
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Percy Bysshe Shelley: The soldiers dreamed that they were blacksmiths

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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 The Witch of Atlas

The soldiers dreamed that they were blacksmiths, and
Walked out of quarters in somnambulism;
Round the red anvils you might see them stand
Like Cyclopses in Vulcan’s sooty abysm,
Beating their swords to ploughshares…

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Jean Ingelow: Methought the men of war were even as gods

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

British writers on peace and war

Jean Ingelow: And the dove said, “Give us peace!”

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Jean Ingelow
From A Parson’s Letter to a Young Poet

“Methought the men of war were even as gods
The old men of the ages. Now mine eyes
Retrieve the truth from ruined city walls
That buried it; from carved and curious homes
Full of rich garments and all goodly spoil,
Where having burned, battered, and wasted them,
They flung it. Give us, give us better gods
Than these that drink with blood upon their hands,
For I repent me that I worshipped them.
O that there might be yet a going up!
O to forget — and to begin again!”

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George Meredith: War wife, as good as widowed

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

British writers on peace and war

George Meredith: Selections on peace and war

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George Meredith
From Earth and a Wedded Woman

Ah, what is Marriage, says each pouting maid,
When she who wedded with the soldier hides
At home as good as widowed in the shade,
A lighthouse to the girls that would be brides:
Nor dares to give a lad an ogle, nor
To dream of dancing, but must hang and moan,
Her husband in the war,
And she to lie alone.

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Percy Bysshe Shelley: Selections on war

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Percy Bysshe Shelley: War with its million horrors shall live but in the memory of time

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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

‘The child,
Ere he can lisp his mother’s sacred name,
Swells with the unnatural pride of crime, and lifts
His baby-sword even in a hero’s mood.
This infant arm becomes the bloodiest scourge
Of devastated earth; whilst specious names,
Learnt in soft childhood’s unsuspecting hour,
Serve as the sophisms with which manhood dims
Bright reason’s ray and sanctifies the sword
Upraised to shed a brother’s innocent blood.’

***

‘Success has sanctioned to a credulous world
The ruin, the disgrace, the woe of war.’

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‘War with its million horrors, and fierce hell,
Shall live but in the memory of time,
Who, like a penitent libertine, shall start,
Look back, and shudder at his younger years.’

***

‘Even the minutest molecule of light,
That in an April sunbeam’s fleeting glow
Fulfils its destined though invisible work,
The universal Spirit guides; nor less
When merciless ambition, or mad zeal,
Has led two hosts of dupes to battle-field,
That, blind, they there may dig each other’s graves
And call the sad work glory, does it rule
All passions…’

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