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Mary Robinson: Spread once more the fostering rays of Peace


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

British writers on peace and war

Women writers on peace and war

Mary Robinson: Selections on war


Mary Robinson
From Ode to the 19th of January 1794

No more,Reflection, sorrowing maid,
O’er Reason cast thy awful veil;
Where Mirth, in careless garb array’d,
And smiles, and thoughtless jests prevail.
For shouldst thou trace, with pensive mien,
The fatal agonizing scene
Where legions wade through human gore,
And death shoots swift from shore to shore!
The splendid glare of revelry would fade,
And all its phantoms sink in sorrow’s whelming shade.

For Fancy might, perchance, descry
The wo which Pleasure’s tribe ne’er saw,
The bleeding breast, the phrenzied eye,
That chill the soul with fearful awe.
Fancy might paint the embattled plain,
The shrieking wife, the breathless swain,
The blazing cot, the houseless child,
Driven on Misfortune’s rugged wild!
And Truth might whisper to the pondering mind,
“Such is the chequered lot of half the human kind!”


Come, soft-eyed Hope! in spotless vest,
Come, and our brows with olive deck!
Bathe with thy balm the human breast,
And rear new charms on Nature’s wreck;
Bid drooping Commerce thrive again;
Spread rapture o’er the rustic plain;
Wash with the spring from Mercy’s eye
The blood that bids the laurel die!
And spread once more around this favoured isle
The fostering rays of Peace, and bid fair Freedom smile!


From Lines to the Rev. J. Whitehouse

In this dread era! when the Muse’s train
Shrink from the horrors of th’ embattled plain;
When all that Grecian elegance could boast,
‘Midst the loud thunders of the scene, is lost!
As one vast flame, with force electric hurl’d,
Grasps the roused legions of th’ enlightened world;
The bard, neglected, droops upon his lyre,
And all the thrills of poesy expire! –
Save where the melting melody of verse
Steals in slow murmurs round the soldier’s hearse,
While o’er the rugged sod that shields his clay
Soft pity chants the consecrated lay!
For, ah! no more can Fancy’s livelier art
Light the dim eye or animate the heart
Can all the tones that harmony e’er knew
The sigh suppress, the gushing tear subdue!
No charm she owns the bleeding breast to bind,
The breast that palpitates for human kind.
Thus did Reflection o’er each wounded sense
Pour the strong tide, of Reason’s eloquence!
As, ‘midst the scene of desolating wo,
She mark’d, aghast! the purple torrent’s flow!
Man against man opposed, with furious rage,
To blur with kindred gore life’s little stage;
While high above the thickening legions stood
Dark-brew’d Revenge! bathed in a nation’s blood.

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