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Winthrop Mackworth Praed: Take the sword away


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

British writers on peace and war


Winthrop Mackworth Praed
Mars Disarmed by Love

Aye, bear it hence, thou blessed child,
Though dire the burden be,
And hide it in the pathless wild,
Or drown it in the sea;
The ruthless murderer prays and swears
So let him swear and pray;
Be deaf to all his oaths and prayers,
And take the sword away.

We’ve had enough of fleets and camps,
Guns, glories, odes, gazettes,
Triumphal arches, coloured lamps,
Huzzas and epaulettes;
We could not bear upon our head
Another leaf of bay;
That horrid Buonaparte’s dead:
Yes, take the sword away.

We’re weary of the noisy boasts
That pleased our patriot throngs;
We’ve long been dull to Gooch’s toasts,
And tame to Dibdin’s songs;
We’re quite content to rule the wave
Without a great display;
We’re known to be extremely brave;
But take the sword away.

We give a shrug, when fife and drum
Play up a favourite air;
We think our barracks are become
More ugly than they were;
We laugh to see the banners float:
-We loathe the charger’s bray;
We don’t admire a scarlet coat;
Do take the sword away.

Let Portugal have rulers twain,
Let Greece go on with none.
Let Popery sink or swim in Spain
While we enjoy the fun;
Let Turkey tremble at the knout,
Let Algiers lose her Dey,
Let Paris turn her Bourbons out:
Bah! take the sword away.

Our honest friends in Parliament
Are looking vastly sad;
Our farmers say with one consent
It’s all immensely bad;
There was a time for borrowing,
And now it’s time to pay;
A budget is a serious thing;
So take the sword away.

And, oh, the bitter tears we wept
In those our days of fame, –
The dread that o’er our heart-strings crept
With every post that came, –
The home affections, waged and lost
In every far-off fray, –
The price that British glory cost!
Ah, take the sword away!

We’ve plenty left to hoist the sail
Or mount the dangerous breach,
And Freedom breathes in every gale
That wanders round our beach;
W^hen duty bids us dare or die.
We’ll fight, another day;
But till we know the reason why,
Take – take the sword away.

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