Why Do They Prate Of The Blessings Of Peace

A poem by Alfred Tennyson

Why do they prate of the blessings of peace? we have made them a curse,
Pickpockets, each hand lusting for all that is not its own;
And lust of gain, in the spirit of Cain, is it better or worse
Than the heart of the citizen hissing in war on his own heath-stone?

But these are the days of advance, the works of the men of mind,
When who but a fool would have faith in a tradesman’s ware or his word?
Is it peace or war? Civil war, as I think, and that of a kind
The viler, as underhand, not openly bearing the sword.

Sooner or later I too may passively take the print
Of the golden age, why not? I have neither hope nor thurst;
May make my heart as a millstone, set my face as a flint,
Cheat and be cheated, and die, who knows? We are ashes and dust.

Peace singing under her olive, and slurring the days gone by,
When the poor are hovell’d and hustled together, each sex, like swine,
When only the ledger, lives and when only not all men lie;
Peace in her vineyard, yes!, but a company forges the wine.

And the vitriol madness flushes up in the ruffian’s head,
Till he filthy by-lane rings to the yell of the trampled wife,
And chalk and alum and plaster are sold to the poor for bread
And the spirit of murder works in the very means of life.

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