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Richard Furness: Death and demons laugh’d in horrid joy

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

British writers on peace and war

Richard Furness: Selections on war

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Richard Furness
From The Rag-Bag

While thunder brazen-mouth’d roll’d, roaring past;
Whole roods of men fell in the iron blast;
Horse in full charge rush’d onward as a flood
O’er arms, and mangled limbs, and spouting blood,
Follow’d by phalanx’d foot, in breathless haste,
O’er cities burnt and provinces laid waste…

A mother’s groans I heard, – in death she press’d
Her orphan children to her bloody breast;
But shrieks of youth, and moans of helpless age
Are disregarded in the battle’s rage.
I heard the drum with thundering strokes rebound.
Contending hosts obey’d the welcome sound,
And while the trumpet pour’d its pealing throat,
The fire-eyed charger mark’d the brazen note,
As shouts of victory rent the troubled sky,
And death and demons laugh’d in horrid joy.
Then millions wept, while joyful bells were rung,
And murder’s requiem was – “Te Deum” sung.

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From The Astrologer

His politics extended three long miles,
Far as his mine or up the midland stiles;
With him were Whig and Tory titles vain,
Two factious packs, who hunt for public gain,
Kennel in Stephen’s, while a nation mourns –
Bark – bite the people, and themselves by turns;
Turn rabid oft, foam, wander, wild, afar,
And worry half the world in hateful war…

Rise, righteous Justice! poise thy golden scale.
And war that blasting aim of kings shall fail;
Then shall blest peace, with life and mercy crown’d,
Pour balm into the bleeding world’s wide wound…

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