Archive

Archive for July, 2017

Lewis Morris: The world rang with the fierce shouts of war and cries of pain

===

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

British writers on peace and war

Lewis Morris: Put off the curse of war

====

Lewis Morris
From The Wanderer

The strong bold sway that held mankind in thrall,
Soldier and jurist marching side by side,
Till came the sure slow blight, when all the world
Grew sick, and swooned, and died;

Again the long dark night, when Learning dozed
Safe in her cloister, and the world without
Rang with fierce shouts of war and cries of pain,
Base triumph, baser rout…

And how, when worthier souls bore rule, to hold
Faction more dear than Truth, or stoop to cheat,
With cozening words and shallow flatteries
The Solons of the street?

Or, failing this, to wear a hireling sword –
Ready, whate’er the cause, to kill and slay…

Categories: Uncategorized

Pausanias: Woe to man

====

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

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

Pausanias: Peace cradling Wealth in her arms

====

Pausanias
From Description of Greece
Translated by J.G. Frazer

When Lichas arrived the Spartans were seeking the bones of Orestes in accordance with an oracle. Now Lichas inferred that they were buried in a smithy, the reason for this inference being this. Everything that he saw in the smithy he compared with the oracle from Delphi, likening to the winds the bellows, for that they too sent forth a violent blast, the hammer to the “stroke,” the anvil to the “counterstroke” to it, while the iron is naturally a “woe to man,” because already men were using iron in warfare. In the time of those called heroes the god would have called bronze a woe to man.

Categories: Uncategorized

Xenophon: Begin wars as tardily, end them as speedily as possible

====

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

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

Xenophon: Socrates’ war sophistry; civil crimes are martial virtues

Xenophon: War as obsession, warfare as mistress

====

Xenophon
From Hellenica
Translated by Carleton L. Brownson

“The right course, indeed, would have been for us not to take up arms against one another in the beginning…But if it is indeed ordered of the gods that wars should come among men, then we ought to begin war as tardily as we can, and, when it has come, to bring it to an end as speedily as possible.”

***

“Moreover, we all know that wars are forever breaking out and being concluded, and that we – if not now, still at some future time – shall desire peace again. Why, then, should we wait for the time when we shall have become exhausted by a multitude of ills, and not rather conclude peace as quickly as possible before anything irremediable happens?

“Again, I for my part do not commend those men who, when they have become competitors in the games and have already been victorious many times and enjoy fame, are so fond of contest that they do not stop until they are defeated and so end their athletic training; nor on the other hand do I commend those dicers who, if they win one success, throw for double stakes, for I see that the majority of such people become utterly impoverished.

“We, then, seeing these things, ought never to engage in a contest of such a sort that we shall either win all or lose all, but ought rather to become friends of one another while we are still strong and successful. For thus we through you, and you through us, could play even a greater part in Greece than in times gone by.”

***

When these things had taken place, the opposite of what all men believed would happen was brought to pass. For since well-nigh all the people of Greece had come together and formed themselves in opposing lines, there was no one who did not suppose that if a battle were fought, those who proved victorious would be the rulers and those who were defeated would be their subjects; but the deity so ordered it that both parties set up a trophy as though victorious and neither tried to hinder those who set them up, that both gave back the dead under a truce as though victorious, and both received back their dead under a truce as though defeated, and that while each party claimed to be victorious, neither was found to be any better off, as regards either additional territory, or city, or sway, than before the battle took place; but there was even more confusion and disorder in Greece after the battle than before.

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Thomas Love Peacock: Selections on war and peace

Categories: Uncategorized

Gerald Massey: Sweet peace comes treading down war’s cruel spears

===

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

British writers on peace and war

Gerald Massey: Curst, curst be war, the World’s most fatal glory!

====

Gerald Massey

From The Old Flag

Statesmen have drawn back meek and mute,
Or pardon begged from bullying foes,
Whene’er a Military boot
Was stampt upon retreating toes.

***

From Love’s Fairy-Ring

Away, you Lords of Murderdom;
Away, O Hate, and Strife,
Hence revellers, reeling drunken from
Your feast of human life.

***

From Hugh Miller’s Grave

He was a Hero true as ever stept
In the Forlorn Hope of a warring world;
And from opposing circumstance his palm
Drew loftier stature, and a lustier strength.

***

From Lady Laura

He had wept his pain in a fiery rain, and a calm came o’er his tears,
As a vision of sweet peace comes treading down
War’s cruel spears.

***

From England and Louis Bonaparte

Alas, poor Italy!
The Storm of War
From its fire-mountain throne sweeps burning down,
Its purple lava-mantle trails behind,
Embracing all and blasting all its folds,
A sea of soldiery breaks over her;
Her fair face darkens in the shadow of Swords;
Destruction drives his ploughshare thro’ her soil…

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Thomas Love Peacock: I’ll make my verses rattle with the din of war and battle

===

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

British writers on peace and war

Thomas Love Peacock: Selections on war and peace

====

Thomas Love Peacock
From Stanzas Written at Sea

O blest, trebly blest, is the peasant’s condition!
From courts and from cities reclining afar,
He hears not the summons of senseless ambition,
The tempests of ocean, and the tumults of war.
Round the standard of battle though thousands may rally
When the trumpet of glory is pealing aloud,
He dwells in the shade of his own native valley,
And turns the same earth as his forefathers ploughed.

In realms far remote while the merchant is toiling,
In search of that wealth he might never enjoy;
The land of his foes while the soldier is spoiling,
When honour commands him to rise and destroy;
Through mountainous billows, with whirlwinds contending,
While the mariner bounds over the wide-raging seas,
Still peace, o’er the peasant her mantle extending,
Brings health and content in the sigh of the breeze.

***

From Quintetto

Mr. Killthedead: I’ll make my verses rattle with the din of war and battle,
For war doth increase sa-la-ry, ry, ry…

***

From The Massacre of the Britons

The sacred ground, where chiefs of yore
The everlasting fire adored,
The solemn pledge of safety bore,
And breathed not of the treacherous sword.

***

From Florence and Blanchefor

The nightingale prevailed at length,
Her pleading had such charms;
So eloquence can conquer strength,
And arts can conquer arms.

Categories: Uncategorized

Thomas Love Peacock: Frenzied war’s ensanguined reign

===

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

British writers on peace and war

Thomas Love Peacock: Selections on war and peace

====

Thomas Love Peacock
From The Genius of the Thames

There peace her vestal lamps displays,
Undimmed by mad ambition’s blaze,
And shuns, in the sequestered glen,
The storms that shake the haunts of men,
Where mean intrigue, and sordid gain,
And frenzied war’s ensanguined reign,
And narrow cares, and wrathful strife,
Dry up the sweetest springs of life.

Oh! might my steps that darkly roam,
Attain at last thy mountain home,
And rest, from earthly trammels free,
With peace, and liberty, and thee!
Around while faction’s tempest sweeps,
Like whirlwinds o’er the wintry deep,
And, down the headlong vortex torn,
The vain, misjudging crowd is borne;
‘Twere sweet to mark, re-echoing far,
The rage of the eternal war,
That dimly heard, at distance swelling,
Endears, but not disturbs, thy dwelling.

***

Where are the states of ancient fame?
Athens, and Sparta’s victor-name,
And all that propped, in war and peace,
The arms, and nobler arts, of Greece?
All-grasping Rome, that proudly hurled
Her mandates o’er the prostrate world,
Long heard mankind her chains deplore,
And fell, as Carthage fell before.

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Pindar: Shall war spread unbounded ruin round?

====

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

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

Pindar: The arts versus war

====

Pindar
From On the Eclipse of the Sun
Translated by Thomas Love Peacock

On thy darken’d course attending,
Dost thou signs of sorrow bring?
Shall the summer’s rains descending,
Blast the promise of the spring?

Or shall war, in evil season,
Spread unbounded ruin round?
Or the baleful hand of Treason
Our domestic joys confound?

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Thomas Love Peacock: Ne’er thy sweet echoes swell again with war’s demoniac yell!

===

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

British writers on peace and war

Thomas Love Peacock: Selections on war and peace

====

Thomas Love Peacock
From The Genius of the Thames

Ah! whither are they flown,
Those days of peace and love
So sweetly sung by bards of elder time?
When in the startling grove
The battle-blast was blown,
And misery came, and cruelty and crime,
Far from the desolated hills,
Polluted meads, and blood-stained rills,
Their guardian genii flew;
And through the woodlands, waste and wild,
Where erst perennial summer smiled,
Infuriate passions prowled, and wintry whirlwinds blew.

***

Ah! what avails, that heaven has rolled
A silver stream o’er sands of gold,
And decked the plane, and reared the grove,
Fit dwelling for primeval love;
If man defiles the beauteous scene
And stain with blood the smiling green;
If man’s worst passions there arise,
To counteract the favoring skies;
If rapine there, and murder reign
And human tigers prowl for gain,
And tyrants foul and trembling slaves,
Pollute their shores, and curse their waves?

Far other charms than these possess,
Oh Thames, thy verdant margin bless:
Where peace, with freedom, hand-in-hand,
Walks forth along the sparkling strand,
And cheerful toil and glowing health…

***

O’er states and empires, near and far,
While rolls the fiery surge of war,
The country’s wealth and power increase,
Thy vales and cities smile in peace…

***

Oh! ne’er may thy sweet echoes swell
Again with war’s demoniac yell!

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Dio Cassius: When peace was announced the mountains resounded

====

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

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

Dio Cassius: Weeping and lamenting the fratricide of war

====

Dio Cassius
From Roman History
Translated by Earnest Cary

After drafting these compacts and reducing them to writing they deposited the documents with the Vestal Virgins, and then exchanged pledges and embraced one another. Upon this a great and mighty shout arose from the mainland and from the ships at the same moment. For many soldiers and many civilians who were present suddenly cried out all together, being terribly tired of the war and strongly desirous of peace, so that even the mountains resounded; and thereupon great panic and alarm came upon them, and many died of no other cause, while many others perished by being trampled under foot or suffocated.

Those who were in the small boats did not wait to reach the land itself, but jumped out into the sea, and those on land rushed out into the water. Meanwhile they embraced one another while swimming and threw their arms around one another’s necks as they dived, making a spectacle of varied sights and sounds. Some knew that their relatives and associates were living, and seeing them now present, gave way to unrestrained joy. Others, supposing that those dear to them had already died, saw them now unexpectedly and for a long time were at a loss what to do, and were rendered speechless, at once distrusting the sight they saw and praying that it might be true, and they would not accept the recognition as true until they had called their names and had heard their voices in answer; then, indeed, they rejoiced as if their friends had been brought back to life again, but as they must yield perforce to a flood of joy, they could not refrain from tears.

Again, some who were unaware that their dearest ones had perished and thought they were alive and present, went about seeking for them and asking every one they met regarding them. As long as they could learn nothing definite they were like madmen and were reduced to despair, both hoping to find them and fearing that they were dead, unable either to give up hope in view of their longing or to give up to grief in view of their hope. But when at last they learned the truth, they would tear their hair and rend their garments, calling upon the lost by name as if their voices could reach them and giving way to grief as if their friends had just then died and were lying there before their eyes. And even if any had no such cause themselves for joy or grief, they were at least affected by the experiences of the rest; for they either rejoiced with him that was glad or grieved with him that mourned, and so, even if they were free from an experience of their own, yet they could not remain indifferent on account of their comradeship with the rest. Accordingly they became neither sated with joy nor ashamed of grief, because they were all affected in the same way, and they spent the entire day as well as the greater part of the night in these demonstrations.

Categories: Uncategorized

Horace Smith: Weapon gathering dust

===

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

British writers on peace and war

===

Horace Smith
From On an Ancient Lance, Hanging in an Armoury

Once in the breezy coppice didst thou dance,
And nightingales amid thy foliage sang;
Form’d by man’s cruel art into a lance,
Oft hast thou pierced, (the while the welkin rang
With trump and drum, shoutings and battle clang,)
Some foeman’s heart. Pride, pomp, and circumstance,
Have left thee, now, and thou dost silent hang,
From age to age, in deep and dusty trance.

Categories: Uncategorized

Thomas Love Peacock: The god of battle, the last deep groan of agony

===

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

British writers on peace and war 

Thomas Love Peacock: Selections on war and peace

====

Thomas Love Peacock
From Palmyra

How oft, in scenes like these, the pensive sage
Has mourn’d the hand of FATE, severely just,
WAR’s wasteful course, and DEATH’s unsparing rage,
And dark OBLIVION, frowning in the dust!
Has marked the tombs, that kings o’erthrown declare,
Just wept their fall, and sunk to join them there!

***

See! the mighty God of Battle
Spreads abroad his crimson train!
Discord’s myriad voices rattle
O’er the terror-shaken plain.
Banners stream, and helmets glare,
Show’ring arrows hiss in air;
Echoing through the darken’d skies,
Wildly-mingling murmurs rise,
The clash of splendor-beaming steel,
The buckler ringing hollowly,
The cymbal’s silver-sounding peal,
The last deep groan of agony…

Categories: Uncategorized

Petronius: Dreams of war

====

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

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

====

Petronius
Dreams
Translated by Thomas Love Peacock

Dreams, which, beneath the hov’ring shades of night,
Sport with the ever-restless minds of men,
Descend not from the gods. Each busy brain
Creates its own. For when the chains of sleep
Have bound the weary, and the lighten’d mind
Unshackled plays, the actions of the light
Become renew’d in darkness. Then the chief,
Who shakes the world with war, who joys alone
In blazing cities, and in wasted plains,
O’erthrown battalions sees, and dying kings,
And fields o’verflow’d with blood.

Categories: Uncategorized

Horace Smith: The hero-butchers of the sword

===

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

British writers on peace and war

Horace Smith: The trade of man-butchery. The soldier and the sailor.

Horace Smith: When War’s ensanguined banner shall be furl’d

===

Horace Smith
From The Poet Among the Trees

The hero-butchers of the sword,
In Rome and Greece, and many a far land,
Like Bravos, murder’d for reward,
The settled price – a laurel-garland.

On bust or coin we mark the wreath,
Forgetful of its bloody story,
How many myriads writhed in death,
That one might bear this type of glory.

Cæsar first wore the badge, ’tis said,
‘Cause his bald sconce had nothing on it,
Knocking some millions on the head,
To get his own a leafy bonnet.

Categories: Uncategorized

Gerald Massey: Curst, curst be war, the World’s most fatal glory!

===

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

British writers on peace and war

Gerald Massey: Sweet peace comes treading down war’s cruel spears

===

Gerald Massey
From Eighteen Hundred and Forty-Eight

Curst, curst be war, the World’s most fatal glory!
Ye wakening nations, burst its guilty thrall!
Time waits with out-stretcht hand to shroud the gory
Grim glaive of strife behind Oblivion’s pall.
The Tyrant laughs at swords, the cannon’s rattle
Thunders no terror on his murderous soul.
Thought, Mind, must conquer Might, and in this battle
The Warrior’s cuirass, or the Sophist’s stole,
Shall blunt no lance of light, no onset backward roll.

Old Poets tell us of a golden age,
When earth was guiltless…

Categories: Uncategorized

Horace Smith: The trade of man-butchery. The soldier and the sailor.

===

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

British writers on peace and war

Horace Smith: The hero-butchers of the sword

Horace Smith: When War’s ensanguined banner shall be furl’d

===

Horace Smith
From The Recantation

A Soldier? – What! a bravo paid

To make man-butchery a trade –

A Jack-a-dandy varlet,

Who sells his liberty, – perchance

His very soul’s inheritance –

For feathers, lace, and scarlet!

 

A Sailor? – worse! he’s doomed to trace

With treadmill drudgery the space

From foremast to the mizen;

A slave to the tyrannic main,

Till some kind bullet comes to brain

The brainless in his prison –

Categories: Uncategorized

Christina Rossetti: They reap a red crop from the field. O Man, put up thy sword.

===

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

British writers on peace and war

===

Christina Rossetti
“Thy Brother’s Blood Crieth”

All her corn-fields rippled in the sunshine,
All her lovely vines, sweets-laden, bowed;
Yet some weeks to harvest and to vintage:
When, as one man’s hand, a cloud
Rose and spread, and, blackening, burst asunder
In rain and fire and thunder.

Is there nought to reap in the day of harvest?
Hath the vine in her day no fruit to yield?
Yea, men tread the press, but not for sweetness,
And they reap a red crop from the field.
Build barns, ye reapers, garner all aright,
Though your souls be called to-night.

A cry of tears goes up from blackened homesteads,
A cry of blood goes up from reeking earth:
Tears and blood have a cry that pierces Heaven
Through all its Hallelujah swells of mirth;
God hears their cry, and though He tarry, yet
He doth not forget.

Mournful Mother, prone in dust weeping,
Who shall comfort thee for those who are not?
As thou didst, men do to thee; and heap the measure,
And heat the furnace sevenfold hot:
As thou once, now these to thee – who pitieth thee
From sea to sea?

O thou King, terrible in strength, and building
Thy strong future on thy past!
Though he drink the last, the King of Sheshach,
Yet he shall drink at the last.
Art thou greater than great Babylon,
Which lies overthrown?

Take heed, ye unwise among the people;
O ye fools, when will ye understand? –
He that planted the ear shall He not hear,
Nor He smite who formed the hand?
“Vengeance is Mine, is Mine,” thus saith the Lord: –
O Man, put up thy sword.

Categories: Uncategorized

Horace Smith: When War’s ensanguined banner shall be furl’d

===

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

British writers on peace and war

Horace Smith: The hero-butchers of the sword

Horace Smith: The trade of man-butchery. The soldier and the sailor.

===

Horace Smith
Hope’s Yearnings

How sweet it is, when wearied with the jars
Of wrangling sects, each sour’d with bigot leaven,
To let the Spirit burst its prison bars
And soar into the deep repose of Heaven!

How sweet it is, when sick with strife and noise
Of the fell brood that owes to faction birth,
To turn to Nature’s tranquillizing joys,
And taste the soothing harmonies of Earth!

But tho’ the lovely Earth, and Sea, and Air,
Be rich in joys that form a sumless sum,
Fill’d with Nepenthes that can banish care,
And wrap the senses in Elysium,

‘Tis sweeter still from these delights to turn
Back to our kind – to watch the course of Man,
And for that blessed consummation yearn,
When Nature shall complete her noble plan; –

When hate, oppression, vice, and crime, shall cease,
When War’s ensanguined banner shall be furl’d,
And to our moral system shall extend
The perfectness of the material world –

Sweetest of all, when ’tis our happy fate
To drop some tribute, trifling tho’ it prove,
On the thrice-hallow’d altar dedicate
To Man’s improvement, truth, and social love.

Faith in our race’s destined elevation,
And its incessant progress to the goal,
Tends, by exciting hope and emulation,
To realise th’ aspirings of the soul.

Categories: Uncategorized

Lewis Morris: Put off the curse of war

===

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

British writers on peace and war

Lewis Morris: The world rang with the fierce shouts of war and cries of pain

===

Lewis Morris
From Whither?

Tread down, oh man, beneath thy feet, the brute,
Not that the sinless, innocent brute which still
Goes on its way unashamed, undoubting, mute,
Obedient to the pre-ordainèd will.

But that which deep within your nature lurks
Unseen, nay scarce suspected, tooth and claw
Red with the stain of age-old time and works
Beneath the dull unpitying primal law.

Put off the curse of war, the shame of strife;
Make thou the hates, the miseries to cease…

Categories: Uncategorized