Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Lit and War: "As if [...] Man had not hellish foes enow besides"

on peace

From John Milton's Paradise Lost:

O shame to men! Devil with devil damn'd
Firm concord holds, men only disagree
of creatures rational, though under hope
Of heavenly grace: and, God proclaiming peace,
Yet live in hatred, enmity, and strife
Among themselves, and levy cruel wars,
Wasting the earth, each other to destroy:
As if (which might induce us to accord)
Man had not hellish foes enow besides,
That day and night, for his destruction wait. (II. 496-505)

As if man had not hellish foes enough besides. As if enough Americans don't have health insurance, America can still spend over seven hundred billion dollars to wage wars. As if there is no poverty, there is no hunger, there is no pestilence, humans work on killing each other. As if no children suffer. As if there are no earthquakes or hurricanes to wreck havoc on communities. As if we don't each face a death no matter what. As if nature itself offers no challenge, as if there would not be enough human suffering to alleviate, as if there are no other problems to occupy our resources, our energy, our souls. As if there is nothing else to do, we have (as Thomas Hardy has it in "Channel Firing"),

All nations striving strong to make
Red war yet redder.

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