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George Chapman: Men’s want of peace, which was from want of love

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

British writers on peace and war

George Chapman: Peace with all her heavenly seed

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George Chapman
From The Tears of Peace

He moves all kings in this vast universe
To cast chaste nets on th’ impious lust of Mars;
See all and imitate his goodness still
That, having clear’d so well war’s outward ill,
He, god-like, still employs his firm desires
To cast learned ink upon those inward fires,
That kindle worse war in the minds of men,
Like to incense the outward war again…

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That he was Angel to me, Star, and Fate;
Advancing colours of good hope to me;
And told me my retired age should see
Heaven’s blessing in a free and harmless life,
Conduct me, thro’ earth’s peace-pretending strife,
To that true Peace, whose search I still intend,
And to the calm shore of a loved end.
But now, as I cast round my ravish’d eye,
To see if this free soul had company,
Or that, alone, he lovingly pursued
The hidden places of my solitude;
He rent a cloud down with his burning hand
That at his back hung, ‘twixt me and a land
Never inhabited, and said: “Now, behold
What main defect it is that doth enfold
The world, in ominous flatteries of a Peace
So full of worse than war; whose stern increase
Devours her issue.” With which words, I view’d
A lady, like a deity indued,
But weeping like a woman, and made way
Out of one thicket, that saw never day,
Towards another; bearing underneath
Her arm, a coffin, for some prize of death;
And after her, in funeral form, did go
The wood’s four-footed beasts, by two and two:
A male and female match’d, of every kind;
And after them, with like instinct inclined.
The airy nation felt her sorrow’s stings;
Fell on the earth, kept rank, and hung their wings.
Which sight I much did pity and admire,
And long’d to know the dame that could inspire
Those bestials with such humane ‘form and ruth;
And how I now should know the hidden truth
(As Homer promised) of that main defect
That makes men all their inward peace reject
For name of outward; then he took my hand;
Led to her, and would make myself demand
(Though he could have resolved me) what she was,
And from what cause those strange effects had pass?
For whom she bore that coffin, and so mourn ‘d?
To all which, with all mildness, she, return ‘d
Answer, that she was Peace, sent down from heaven
With charge from th’ Almighty Deity given
T’ attend on men, who now had banish ‘d her
From their societies, and made her err
In that wild desert; only human love,
Banish ‘d in like sort, did a long time prove
That life with her; but now, alas, was dead,
And lay in that wood to be buried;
For whom she bore that coffin and did mourn;
And that those beasts were so much humane born,
That they in nature felt a love to peace;
For which they follow’d her, when when did cease.
This went so near her heart, it left her tongue;
And, silent, she gave time to note whence sprung
Men’s want of peace, which was from want of love;
And I observed now, what that peace did prove
That men made shift with and did so much please.
For now, the sun declining to the seas,
Made long misshapen shadows; and true Peace
(Here walking in his beams) cast such increase
Of shadow from her, that I saw it glide
Through cities, courts, and countries; and descried
How, in her shadow only, men there lived,
While she walk’d here i’th’ sun; and all that thrived
Hid in that shade their thrift; nought but her shade
Was bulwark ‘gainst all war that might invade
Their countries or their consciences; since Love
(That should give Peace, her substance) now they drove
Into the deserts; where he suffer’d Fate,
And whose sad funerals beasts must celebrate.
With whom I freely wish’d I had been nursed,
Because they follow nature, at their worst,
And at their best, did teach her. As we went
I felt a scruple, which I durst not vent,
No, not to Peace herself, whom it concern’d,
For fear to wrong her; so well I have learn’d
To shun injustice, even to doves or flies;
But to the Devil, or the Destinies,
Where I am just, and know I honour Truth,
I’ll speak my thoughts, in scorn of what ensueth.
Yet, not resolved in th’ other, there did shine
A beam of Homer’s freer soul in mine,
That made me see, I might propose my doubt;
Which was: if this were true Peace I found out.

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