Home > Uncategorized > Eliza Cook: I felt a shuddering horror lurk, to think I’d mingled in such work

Eliza Cook: I felt a shuddering horror lurk, to think I’d mingled in such work

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

British writers on peace and war

Eliza Cook: Selections on peace and war

 

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Eliza Cook
From Melaia

‘Twas in the age when Arts and Peace

Revived once more in mighty Greece –
When Fame forsook the camp and blade,
And turned from purple fields to wreathe
Her meeds again for those who bade
The canvass glow, the marble breathe…

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” ‘Twas on the night-fall of a day,
When slaughter’s red and fierce career
Had lasted from the breaking ray,
Leaving, as twilight died away,
Some thousands on one common bier.

“The night came on, the work was done,
The glory ours, the battle won;
My hand was tired of the sword,
And gladly to its sheath restored
The dripping blade; for though my life
Hath oft been risked in human strife,
Elate and proud to have my name
Grow dreaded for its soldier fame;
Though I have stumbled o’er the slain,
Mid splintered bone and scattered brain;
Though I have seen the streaming blood
Drench the green sod and tinge the flood;
Still, when the raging hour had sped,
I sighed to think such things had been;
And though I helped to strew the dead,
I sickened at the carnage scene.
My soul was reckless in the crash
Of ringing shield and striking clash.
Then I had all the tiger’s will,
And all the lion’s strength, to kill;
But when I trod the dead-strewn plain,
With mercy at her post again,
I felt a shuddering horror lurk,
To think I’d mingled in such work.

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