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Elizabeth Bentley: Terror-striking War shalt be banish’d far


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

British writers on peace and war

Women writers on peace and war

Elizabeth Bentley: On the return of celestial peace


Elizabeth Bentley
From Ode to War

Stern Power! who long in distant lands,
Has thunder’d out thy dire commands;
And while no lenient thought thy rage restrain’d,
Hast urged thy mad destructive course,
By Fury drawn and rude resistless Force;
And arm’d with iron shield,
Too long hast joy’d thy thirsty sword to wield,
And hurl thy massy spear with blood distain’d:
And while her brazen trumpet Discord rear’d,
Whilst appall’d the nations heard,
Hast bid its jarring voice resound afar,
And vengeful bent on murderous deeds,
Hast lash’d thy fiery-breathing steeds,
And whirl’d thy dusky car:
Behind thee Dread and Horror swift advance,
And Death insatiate points his venom’d lance.
Where’er thy breath the air pollutes,
It blasts the verdure, flow’rs, and fruits
That deck’d afertile land;
Thou bid’st pale Famine in thy train appear,
With meagre arm her leaden sceptre rear,
And dash the horn from Plenty’s lib’ral hand.
Where’er thy thundering chariot wheels are roll’d,
On trembling pinions from thy presence fly,
Those natives of a purer sky,
Angelic Peace and Commerce rob’d in gold,
Nor dares Repose sustain thy threat’ning mien;
Unsated yet with human gore…

Swift from on high
Meek Peace shall fly,
And bid her olive in the wreath combine.
Then terror-striking War,
Shalt thou from earth be banish’d far,
Nor more beneath the realms of day be seen,
On Concord frowning as thy greatest foe,
Reluctant to thy native darkness go,
And hide thy horrid mien;
Or fix thy sole domain,
On some wide desart plain,
Where human eye shall ne’er thy form survey;
Where wolves and tygers nightly prowl,
Direct the hunger-prompted howl,
And seize the quivering prey.

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