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Hannah More: War

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

British writers on peace and war

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Hannah More
War
From David and Goliath

O War, What art thou?
After the brightest conquest, what remains
Of all thy glories? For the vanquish’d – chains –
For the proud victor – what? Alas! to reign
O’er desolated nations – a drear waste,
By one man’s crime, by one man’s lust of power,
Unpeopled! Naked plains and ravaged fields,
Succeed to smiling harvests and the fruits
Of peaceful olive – luscious fig and vine!
Here, rifled temples are the cavern’d dens
Of savage beasts, or haunt of birds obscene;
There, populous cities blacken in the sun,
And in the general wreck proud palaces
Lie undistinguish’d, save by the dun smoke
Of recent conflagration! When the song
Of dear-bought joy, with many a triumph swell’d,
Salutes the victory’s ear, and soothes his pride,
How is the grateful harmony profaned
With the sad dissonance of virgins’ cries,
Who mourn their brothers slain! Of matrons hoar,
Who clasp their wither’d hands, and fondly ask
With iteration shrill – their slaughter’d sons!
How is the laurel’s verdure stain’d with blood
And soil’d with widows’ tears!

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