The Gift Of The Gods, by Lord Dunsany
There was once a man who sought a boon of the gods. For peace was
over the world and all things savoured of sameness, and the man was
weary at heart and sighed for the tents and the warfields. Therefore
he sought a boon of the ancient gods. And appearing before them he
said to them, "Ancient gods; there is peace in the land where I dwell,
and indeed to the uttermost parts, and we are full weary of peace. O
ancient gods, grant us war!"
And the ancient gods made him a war.
And the man went forth with his sword, and behold it was even war. And
the man remembered the little things that he knew, and thought of the
quiet days that there used to be, and at night on the hard ground
dreamed of the things of peace. And dearer and dearer grew the wonted
things, the dull but easeful things of the days of peace, and
remembering these he began to regret the war, and sought once more a
boon of the ancient gods, and appearing before them he said: "O
ancient gods, indeed but a man loves best the days of peace. Therefore
take back your war and give us peace, for indeed of all your
blessedness peace is best."
And the man returned again to the haunts of peace.
But in a while the man grew weary of peace, of the things that he used
to know, and the savour of sameness again; and sighing again for the
tents, and appearing once more to the gods, he said to them: "Ancient
gods; we do not love your peace, for indeed the days are dull, and a
man is best at war."
And the gods made him a war.
And there were drums again, the smoke of campfires again, wind in the
waste again, the sound of horses of war, burning cities again, and the
things that wanderers know; and the thoughts of that man went home to
the ways of peace; moss upon lawns again, light in old spires again,
sun upon gardens again, flowers in pleasant woods and sleep and the
paths of peace.
And once more the man appeared to the ancient gods and sought from
them one more boon, and said to them: "Ancient gods; indeed but the
world and we are a-weary of war and long for the ancient ways and the
paths of peace."
So the gods took back their war and gave him peace.
But the man took counsel one day and communed long with himself and
said to himself: "Behold, the wishes I wish, which the gods grant, are
not to be much desired; and if the gods should one day grant a wish
and never revoke it, which is a way of the gods, I should be sorely
tried because of my wish; my wishes are dangerous wishes and not to be
And therefore he wrote an anonymous letter to the gods, writing: "O
ancient gods; this man that hath four times troubled you with his
wishes, wishing for peace and war, is a man that hath no reverence for
the gods, speaking ill of them on days when they do not hear, and
speaking well of them on holy days and at the appointed hours when the
gods are hearkening to prayer. Therefore grant no more wishes to this
And the days of peace wore on and there arose again from the earth,
like mist in the autumn from the fields that generations have
ploughed, the savour of sameness again. And the man went forth one
morning and appeared once more to the gods, and cried: "O ancient
gods; give us but one war again, for I would be back to the camps and
debateable borders of lands."
And the gods said: "We hear not well of your way of life, yea ill
things have come to our hearing, so that we grant no more the wishes