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Francis Thompson: Kingly crown and warrior’s crest not worth a blade of grass

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

British writers on peace and war

Victor Hugo: Selections on war

Francis Thompson: Flattering the too-much-pampered Boy of War

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Francis Thompson
An Echo of Victor Hugo

Life’s a veil the real has:
All the shadows of our scene
Are but shows of things that pass
On the other side the screen.

Time his glass sits nodding by;
‘Twixt its turn and turn a spawn
Of universes buzz and die
Like the ephemeris of the dawn.

Turn again the wasted glass!
Kingly crown and warrior’s crest
Are not worth the blade of grass
God fashions for the swallow’s nest.

Kings must lay gold circlets down
In God’s sepulchral ante-rooms,
The wear of Heaven’s the thorny crown:
He paves His temples with their tombs.

O our towered altitudes!
O the lustres of our thrones!
What! old Time shall have his moods
Like Caesars and Napoleons;

Have his towers and conquerors forth,
Till he, weary of the toys,
Put back Rameses in the earth
And break his Ninevehs and Troys.

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