The Great War

from Retrogression and Other Poems: Electronic Edition

To the Hon. Stephen Coleridge
[On his Labours in Mitigation of Animal Suffering]

SWORDSMAN of Mercy, merciless to these

Who feign that the All-Maker gladly sees

His lowlier creatures racked and riven while


Buys with their agony a dreadful ease,

Not uncompanioned fight you this good fight

Lords of invisible but invincible might,

The poets all are with you evermore,

Marching like morn upon the camps of Night.

They watch you 'twixt the cheers and jeers of


Grappling with cruelty in the dragon's den,

I say they all are with you from of old,

Partisans of that dauntless sword, your pen.

Dark are the times; Death feasts with bloody


When ruth is prone in dust, who heeds your


Yet fight, and faint not; still the stars

look on;

And poets acclaim, and Shakespeare leads the


No wonder! For the ancient legends say—

Telling great truth in the great Grecian way—

That horsed on Pegasus was Bellerophon,

When he with joy did the Chimaera slay.