Home > Uncategorized > Lewis Morris: Red war, the dungeon, and the stake

Lewis Morris: Red war, the dungeon, and the stake

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

British writers on peace and war

Lewis Morris: Selections on war and peace

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Lewis Morris

From The Youth of Thought

Fulfilled with thoughts, more fair and dear
Than all the lighter joys of yore,
Immeasurable hopes brought near,
And Heaven laid open more and more.

But not with love and peace alone
Time came, which older joys could take;
But with fierce brand and hopeless groan,
Red war, the dungeon, and the stake…

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From Tantalus

The glitter of the gems, the precious webs
Plundered from every clime by cruel wars
That strewed the sands with corpses…

And only cared for power; content to shed
Rivers of innocent blood, if only thus
I might appease my thirst. Until I grew
A monster gloating over blood and pain.

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From A Cynic’s Day-Dream

If fate should grant me such a home,
So sweet the tranquil days would come,
I should not need, I trust, to sink
My weariness in lust or drink.
Scant pleasure should I think to gain
From endless scenes of death and pain;
‘Twould little profit me to slay
A thousand innocents a day;
I should not much delight to tear
With wolfish dogs the shrieking hare;
With horse and hound to track to death
A helpless wretch that gasps for breath;
To make the fair bird check its wing,
And drop, a dying, shapeless thing;
To leave the joy of all the wood
A mangled heap of fur and blood,
Or else escaping, but in vain,
To pine, a shattered wretch, in pain;
Teeming, perhaps, or doomed to see
Its young brood starve in misery;
With neither risk nor labour, still
To live for nothing but to kill –
I dare not! If perplexed I am
Between the tiger and the lamb;
If fate ordain that these shall give
Their poor brief lives that I may live:
Whate’er the law that bids them die,
Others shall butcher them, not I,
Not such my work. Surely the Lord,
Who made the devils by a word,
Not men, but those who’d wield them well
Gave these sad tortures of his Hell.

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