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William Shakespeare: Enrich the time to come with smooth-faced peace

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

British writers on peace and war

William Shakespeare: Selections on war and peace

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William Shakespeare
From Richard II

For that our kingdom’s earth should not be soil’d
With that dear blood which it hath fostered;
And for our eyes do hate the dire aspect
Of civil wounds plough’d up with neighbours’ sword;
And for we think the eagle-winged pride
Of sky-aspiring and ambitious thoughts,
With rival-hating envy, set on you
To wake our peace, which in our country’s cradle
Draws the sweet infant breath of gentle sleep;
Which so roused up with boisterous untuned drums,
With harsh resounding trumpets’ dreadful bray,
And grating shock of wrathful iron arms,
Might from our quiet confines fright fair peace
And make us wade even in our kindred’s blood…

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From Richard III

England hath long been mad, and scarr’d herself;
The brother blindly shed the brother’s blood,
The father rashly slaughter’d his own son,
The son, compell’d, been butcher to the sire…

Enrich the time to come with smooth-faced peace,
With smiling plenty and fair prosperous days!
Abate the edge of traitors, gracious Lord,
That would reduce these bloody days again,
And make poor England weep in streams of blood!
Let them not live to taste this land’s increase
That would with treason wound this fair land’s peace!
Now civil wounds are stopp’d, peace lives again:
That she may long live here, God say amen!

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