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

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.’

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‘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.’

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‘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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