Frank Walcott Hutt: The Peace Congress

October 29, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

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Frank Walcott Hutt
The Peace Congress

O wise men of the prophet-mood,
What of the dove of Peace – how soon
Shall she, forth faring night and noon,
Beside our thresholds brood?

O seers of many lands, what cheer?
What tidings of the dove, whose way
Is lost, is lost this many a day?
Is her home-coming near?

We, too, have watched while ye have prayed,
We, too, have kept the faith, and still
With every prophet on his hill
Yearn for the far-estrayed.

Above the war-cloud, fierce and gray,
Beyond the field where conflict rings,
Where shall she spread descending wings –
Good priest and rabbi, say?

O brothers, shall this be a sign,
That from your distant isles ye bear
Memorials devout and rare
Unto this common shrine?

O message-bearers, that confess
A greater than an age of gold,
Is this again the Voice of old
Heard in the wilderness?

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John Keats: Sonnet on Peace

October 28, 2020 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

John Keats: Days innocent of scathing war

John Keats: The fierce intoxicating tones of trumpets, drums and cannon

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John Keats
Sonnet on Peace

O Peace! and dost thou with thy presence bless
The dwellings of this war-surrounded Isle;
Soothing with placid brow our late distress,
Making the triple kingdom brightly smile?
Joyful I hail thy presence; and I hail
The sweet companions that await on thee;
Complete my joy let not my first wish fail,
Let the sweet mountain nymph thy favourite be,
With England’s happiness proclaim Europa’s Liberty.
O Europe! let not sceptred tyrants see
That thou must shelter in thy former state;
Keep thy chains burst, and boldly say thou art free;
Give thy kings law leave not uncurbed the great;
So with the horrors past thou’lt win thy happier fate!

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Mabel Thomson: A child’s ideal of soldiering

October 27, 2020 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Women writers on peace and war

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Mabel Thomson
A Child’s Ideal

He was a shock-headed urchin, as rosy, as chubby, as ragged as a boy could be, but I am glad to remember that his face was clean.

I was coming home from town, my arms full of various little parcels accumulated in the course of an after noon’s shopping expedition. He was also coming home from the town, and he caught up with me at the end of the street from whence a crowd of children pouring told of the afternoon’s work in a board school being finished. He ran alongside for a few steps, and then commenced to slide with much vigor upon the pavement.

The sliding was an artistic and finished performance. His hob-nailed shoes – I am glad to remember that, in spite of the rags, he was well shod – made a most excruciating and ear-splitting screak on the flags. It was not until the third or fourth repetition of this display that I realized by the upturned, roguish glance of the merry dark eyes, that it was intended for my especial amusement, and that I was obviously expected to comment upon it. So I said the first thing that came into my head, ” That’s not very good for your boots!”

For answer, he edged a little nearer to the wall, and silently displayed the sole of first one boot and then the other. They were studded with nails, long and heavy, but worn shiny by much athletic exercise of the kind described. I walked on somewhat abashed. But though the little Arab had finished his sliding, I was not yet to be rid of his attentions, for he walked by my side, keeping step, for all the world as if we were coming back from that shopping expedition together.

Now I had passed that street end scores of times just when the board school was emptying its crowd of noisy, shouting youngsters into the road, but never before had one of them detached himself from the rest with the obvious intention of making my acquaintance. There are board schools in the city where more than a score of lusty young voices would claim hearty good fellowship if I happened to pass at closing time; but among the scholars in this particular school I had no acquaintances. I felt there was more than chance in the encounter. Perhaps my Master had sent him to me. If it was so, I should soon find out the reason. I would talk to him.

“Had he been to school?”- “Yes.” “Did he learn to read and write and spell?” “Yes.” “Could he do sums – addition, subtraction, multiplication?” “More’n them,” he answered indignantly, “I’m in fractions!” “Where did he live?” The answer showed that our way lay together for more than half a mile yet. Inquiries as to his home and relations elicited the fact that his father was dead, that he lived with his mother and several little brothers and sisters, the home being provided for by a brother of the dead father, who lived with them. A poor enough home, as the words and rags showed, but not afflicted with that dire need of food that would send a child to a stranger’s side in hope of a meal. I would question him further.

“And what do you intend to be when you grow to be a man?” I asked.

“A soldier!”

The answer came so promptly and with such evident relish that I almost forgot that it showed me the reason for our sudden acquaintance and absorbing conversation. I looked down at him – he had nearly forgotten the strange lady who asked so many questions. In his eyes were visions of scarlet-coated regiments, in his ears the sound of horses’ feet, led by noise of bugle and band. I brought him back to realities.

“Why do you choose to be a soldier?”

He hesitated – “O, soldiers are strong and big; I want to be strong and big.”

“It is not the soldiering that makes men big and strong,” I said. “Is there any other reason for your choice?”

“It’s grand to be a soldier,” he said, looking down at his rags; “look at their clothes!”

“Is it grand,” I asked him, ” when the regiments are ordered out to battle, and hundreds of men on both sides are killed who have boys at home like you, needing food and clothes? Is it grand when mothers are left alone to bring up the boys and girls because the fathers have been killed by dreadful wounds in a war?”

This was an argument he could understand, and he looked uncertain. But our ways were soon to separate, and I hastened to bring him to higher ground. In a very few words and very simply I told him of One who came to earth as a little child, and whose blessed name was “Prince of Peace.” He, this Prince of Peace, was captain of an army whose watchword was Love, and whose battles were fought without bloodshed, but with every noble quality of bravery and courage that boy hood most admires. Our Father in Heaven had sent his own Son to teach us to be good, and to love everybody, even our enemies, – would it not be better to enlist under his banner? Would it not be better to be a railway man as his father had been, and fight life’s battles for mother and the baby?

It was a good deal for the little Arab to take in during the course of one short walk, – I am not quite sure that he understood it all, – but he nodded his head silently, and I thought I saw a tear. We had walked very slowly, but had come to the parting of the ways at last. What had I among my little parcels to bestow as a parting gift? Alas, my shopping was of a very grown-up nature, but I remembered the purchase of a small india-rubber pig that squeaked when you blew it up. Well that might serve, and the more favored child for whom it was in tended might wait.

I handed it over and walked away, pondering on the strange ways in which a servant of the King may be called upon to speak for Him, and as I gave one backward look, I saw my little Arab standing where I had left him, with the india-rubber pig clasped tightly to his breast. I hoped he was pondering too.

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George Shepard Burleigh: When shall the crystal fount of Peace wash out the hideous stain of blood?

October 26, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

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George Shepard Burleigh
How Long?

When shall the noise of battle cease,
With red Bellona’s crimson flood?
When shall the crystal fount of Peace
Wash out the hideous stain of blood?

Almost two thousand years of Christ
Above the bleeding earth have rolled,
Still man by man is sacrificed
As on the Moloch shrines of old!

Unnumbered temples rise to claim
The Prince of Peace for sovereign Lord;
Yet millions in His holy name
Baptize the murder-seeking sword.

O, shameless mockery of hell!
To prate of peace while rending homes
Of wives and babes with shot and shell,
That wrap in fire their temple domes!

How long, O Lord of love, how long
Shalt Thou be served with double tongue,
And paeans of victorious wrong
Before thy altar-fires be sung?

Ye nations, taught in Holy books
To serve with love the Lord of lords,
Your vines demand their pruning-hooks,
The blameless plowshares need your swords!

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Ovid: I had naught to do with war, guardian was I of peace and doorways

October 25, 2020 Leave a comment

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

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

Ovid: Golden Age, before weapons were warm and bloodstained from killing

Ovid: Instead of a wolf the timorous ewes dread war

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Ovid
From The Fasti
Translated by James G. Frazer

Let others sing of Caesar’s wars; my theme be Caesar’s altars and the days he added to the sacred roll.

Caesaris arma canant alii: nos Caesaris aras, et quoscumque sacris addidit ille dies.

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Two-headed Janus, opener of the softly gliding year, thou who alone of the celestials dost behold thy back, come propitious to the chiefs whose toil ensures peace to the fruitful earth, peace to the sea.

Iane biceps, anni tacite labentis origo,
solus de superis qui tua terga vides,
dexter ades ducibus, quorum secura labore
otia terra ferax, otia pontus habet:

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When I choose to send forth peace from tranquil halls, she freely walks the ways unhindered. But with blood and slaughter the whole world would welter, did not the bars unbending hold the barricadoed wars. I sit at heaven’s gate with the gentle Hours;

cum libuit Pacem placidis emittere tectis,
libera perpetuas ambulat ilia vias:
sanguine letifero totus miscebitur orbis,
ni teneant rigidae condita bella serae.
praesideo foribus caeli cum mitibus Horis:

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I reigned in days when earth could bear with gods, and divinities moved freely in the abodes of men. The sin of mortals had not yet put Justice to flight (she was the last of the celestials to forsake the earth): honour’s self, not fear, ruled the people without appeal to force: toil there was none to expound the right to righteous men. I had naught to do with war: guardian was I of peace and doorways, and these,” quoth he, showing the key, “these be the arms I bear.”

tunc ego regnabam, patiens cum terra deorum
esset, et humanis numina mixta locis.
nondum lustitiam facinus mortale fugarat
(ultima de superis ilia reliquit humum),
proque metu populum sine vi pudor ipse regebat;
nullus erat iustis reddere iura labor,
nil mihi cum bello: pacem postesque tuebar
et” clavem ostendens “haec” ait “arma gero.”

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John Horn: False Ideas About War and Peace

October 24, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

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John Horn
False Ideas About War and Peace

How the angels in heaven must weep and those in hell laugh at the sorrowful plight in which the nations of the world now present themselves! It is nigh two thousand years since the Man of Peace commanded, saying, “Put up thy sword into the sheath.” Only to-day, and even reluctantly, have the civilized and Christian nations assembled in delegation to consider the practicability of this command. Only to-day, and the world, led by its stump orators and sensational journalists, treats the whole affair as a fiasco, as a Utopia which only deserves serious consideration among the dreamers of the millennium. Disarmament? Pshaw! Life is a struggle, a contest. War is a very undesirable and sorrowful thing, but it is in strict accordance with the laws of nature. No nation can be great without it. All history proclaims that the people who cannot or will not fight must perish. There is no room for weaklings or cowards. It is the merest sentimentalism to cry over it. Let us be brave, heroic, patriotic. At the sacrifice of the few the many shall live.

Such, in brief, is the doctrine presented by those who tell us that war is a necessary factor in the civilization and elevation of humanity. And this doctrine, while it is as false as the devil in principle and fatal as hell in its effects, is still accepted by civilized and Christian countries as the only reasonable and practicable doctrine for solving international disputes.

And so the world continues to move in the same old way – round and round – never forward or onward. Humanity, howling, cursing, swearing, continues its circular march, wades through the blood-stained fields and over the blood-stained hills, dyeing them a deeper crimson and adding to the number of dead carcasses over which it tramples. It believes in peace, not the peace of the river, but the peace of the ocean which bears on its calm surface the wrecks and ruins of a roaring tempest. It believes in peace, but it is the peace obtained at the point of the bayonet or the mouth of the cannon. And so to-day every nation is busily engaged increasing its army and navy. Men are working day and night manufacturing the instruments of peace – battleships and gunpowder. Each nation believes itself to be specially fitted and specially predestined by the Lord of Hosts for uniting under one flag the peoples of the earth. But this union will not be a united brotherhood, it will be a united serfdom. Its accomplishments will not be by the sword of the Spirit, but by the spirit of the sword.

And yet amidst all this turmoil and strife and uproar we need not despair. It is not necessary to banish hope entirely. There are voices other than the voice of Death. Amidst all the bellowings that proceed from the throats of the rulers of the earth; amidst the march of armed men; amidst the clash of steel and roar of cannon, there may still be heard a voice from the highest heavens proclaiming, “Be still and know that I am God.” He that hath an ear let him hear.

And yet, it may be asked, “Is not the voice of God heard in battle?” I am afraid not. Certain it is that the voice of the devil is heard much oftener, asking, after the dead lie buried in the dust, the same old diabolical question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Still the voice of God is there if it could only be heard, speaking in words most clear and distinct and emphatic, “Thou shalt not kill”; “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” But is not war beneficial in creating some of the best qualities in man, such as the skill of the physician and the tenderness of the nurse? That it affords abundant opportunity for the practice of such qualities is only too sorrowfully true. That it stimulates and quickens them is also granted. That it creates them is most untrue. They are simply latent qualities brought into exercise. It is an undoubted blessing for the victims of war to have such qualities displayed in their interest, but it is sad indeed to require the blessing. It is mere nonsense to advocate war by such argument. Here is a locomotive moving along not too speedily. A man thinks he can cross the track before it reaches him. He has miscalculated its speed. The engine strikes him and he is severely injured. Quickly an ambulance patrol arrives, and in it he is carried to the hospital, where he receives the skill of the physician and the tender care of the nurse. Are railroad accidents beneficial? Shall we advocate the desirability of multiplying them?

Again, it may be asked, “Is not war the foundation of all science and art?” If by science is meant the invention of all kinds of instruments for the wholesale destruction of human life, then war is the foundation of all science. So rapidly and so skillfully are we progressing in this science that, in a short time, the most scientific nation will be able to force its enemy to turn on a strong current of electricity and exterminate itself, just as we now do in the case of condemned murderers. But if by science is meant a knowledge of nature, and if we include the invention of those instruments which are helpful in the attainment of such knowledge, then science has nothing to do with war, except as an object of destruction. An army of soldiers has no more regard for a scientific laboratory than a herd of cattle for the flowers of the field wherein they are grazing. Students of science, like all other students, pursue their studies not amidst tumult and uproar, but where there is quietness and peace. The roar of cannon and the roar of infuriated armed men is no incentive to them. War minimizes the possibilities for scientific progress. It cannot, therefore, be the foundation of science.

And now as to war being the foundation of art, what is to be said? We are told that art nourishes only in those countries whose people are imbued with a spirit to fight and who delight in war. An agricultural nation has no artistic quality, a manufacturing one is essentially opposed to war. When it is pointed out that the ancient Romans, whose great empire was built and maintained by war, were not by any means lovers or producers of art, we are told that at heart they must have been a class of farmers and not soldiers! We speak of the pen being mightier than the sword, but this is only the idle talk of an uncivilized agricultural nation or of a degenerate manufacturing one, if the foregoing theory be true. If such be true, then the sword would be mightier than the pen, the brush and the chisel put together. Nay, it would be more. The virtue and magic of these art instruments would owe their origin to the sword. What a weary and monotonous world this would be without war! There would be nothing beautiful to cheer and elevate us. There would be no art, no literature, no paintings, no sculpture. There would be simply a race of people totally depraved by a mania for agriculture and manufacture, because, alas, too ignoble to fight! But if war is the foundation of art, why not perpetuate the realities of it? Why not chisel out to us on stone, the least perishable, a few thousand skulls with crossbones?

Why not paint us pictures as we paint our hills and dales with blood? Why not write us a few epics of the weaklings of the earth who were unable to adapt themselves to the environment of an elevated and noble civilization-war?

The late Mr. John Ruskin, the greatest exponent of the theory that war is the foundation or creative principle of all that is great and true and noble in humanity, was forced to admit that all modern war is murder, that it created nothing but tombs. Since modern war is all that affects us in modern times, we need not trouble ourselves further with the effects of ancient or “classic” war.

There is one other argument commonly expressed, although never uttered on platform or published in news paper or magazine, which proclaims the benefits that accrue from war. We are told that, the labor market being overrun with wage-earners, what is required is a war conducted on an extensive scale, so that such a deplorable condition of affairs may be remedied. Let us chop off a few thousand heads, then there shall be work for all. The most sorrowful thing about this argument is its advocacy by workingmen. How it ever entered their heads and gained expressed approval, God only knows. Still it may be heard in the workshop, in the club-room and on the street. I have no intention of discussing this question here to-night. To do so would be an insult to your intelligence. I mention it simply to illustrate the extreme folly and degradation to which the masses have descended. Of all the foulness and corruption that proceeds from sooty hell, this is the most criminal and most accursed.

There are other theories and arguments by which an endeavor is made to prove, not only that war is justifiable, but that it is an essential factor in the progress and elevation of humanity. I trust, however, in dealing with the foregoing theories and arguments, I may at least have proved helpful in my endeavor to show you that, in the present condition of the world’s civilization and enlightenment, with all the opportunities afforded for arbitration and mediation, war is neither justifiable nor elevating. It may have been necessary, it may have been elevating in the infancy and early history of a savage and uncivilized world, but at the eve of the twentieth century of Christian teaching, it is nothing short of murder, and murder in its most brutal, vicious and degrading form. Now, I do not assert that the modern soldier is a murderer. What I do assert is that all modern war is murder whoever is responsible for the crime committed. The soldier of every nation generally thinks that he is engaged in a noble and holy cause. In thinking thus he thinks wrongly. Still he thinks as he has been taught. We have all been taught to believe in the righteousness of war; taught to believe that the extension of territory for commercial purposes is more valuable than human life. The worst thing about this teaching is that the Church upholds it. We might justly say, therefore, that the Church deserves greater condemnation than any of its co-partners in this great crime.

But I shall not specially accuse or condemn it. We are all responsible and deserving of condemnation, unless we are opposing it in some form or manner. The ministry or government that declares war, the minister or priest who prays that the enemy may be completely vanquished, the great mass of humanity who receive with joyous acclamation the news of the massacre of the enemy, all are responsible for this great crime of murder. I cannot, therefore, my brother, join you in your cheer of victory.

I weep for the victims; weep because of the homes that have been broken up and for the hearts that have been made sad; but, more than anything else, I weep for you in your cheers. Still I am not without hope, not without courage. I believe the day is nigh at hand when I too shall cheer; shall cheer for the victory, not of the strong over the weak, but of the strong for the weak; shall cheer, not for the power that destroys, but for the power that helps and saves; shall cheer when the nations of the earth are united, not to blow the life out of each other, but to breathe a newer and higher life into each other.

This is the season that inspires us with hope. The winter has gone and spring has reappeared. In the vegetable kingdom the manifestations of life proclaim the coming of spring when the fields and woods will greet us with the beauty and fragrance of their flowers and blossoms. What a beautiful scene it would be if a similar manifestation could be witnessed in the animal kingdom, in one branch of it at least, that of man.

What a glorious transformation it would be. I have hoped that such a change will soon take place. And in my hope I would fain desire that the present year may mark the close of the world’s winter, which has been so long, so dreary, so desolate and so tragic in its history.

I would fain desire that the coming year, the year 1901, whether it commences a new century or not, may commence a new era, even the spring of a higher and nobler life in man. The spring once with us, the summer would soon appear, when there would bloom up in our midst flowers more beautiful than the lily or the rose. Instead of witnessing on the field and on the hillside those ghastly mutilated forms, bruised and broken and destroyed by the implements of war, with less thought and with a lighter heart than is displayed in plucking the weeds from the ground, there would spring up all over the land a multitude of flowers, which in their grace and symmetry of form, in their virtue and light and love, in all their varied manifestations of life, would proclaim the fulfillment of the prophecy of the angels at the birth of the Son of Man, “On earth peace, goodwill toward men.”

My hope for the future lies in the good work already accomplished at the recent Hague Conference, which is but the prologue of what may be achieved in the near future. I say good work already accomplished, because even at that first conference much has been done in formulating articles on arbitration and mediation whereby two nations in dispute may, if they so choose, have an honorable and peaceful solution of their differences.

This is much to be thankful for, even although the work of the Conference has been laughed and jeered at. The laughs and jeers will cease when the great mass of humanity take up the question in real earnest. The practical success of all future conferences depends on the earnestness of the people. I know too well that no amount of articles agreed upon and signed by the delegates will prove fruitful unless they express the sentiment of the people. But let the people be in real earnest; let them take the same interest in a crusade of peace that they do in a crusade of war; let them put the influence and force of their whole being into it; let them be possessed with the same heroism as the soldier; let them be willing to bear similar privations; let them stand unitedly against the attacks of the enemy; let them be willing to give their lives a sacrifice for the cause, and I tell you that the sun would never again set on the land where peace and joy would reign forever and forevermore.

If there is one country better suited than another for influencing the peace movement, that country is the United States. Its desire for the peace of nations is traditional. This desire was very forcibly expressed by our delegates to The Hague in their earnest insistence for practical measures. But more than this, the United States is a miniature world. Its population is so heterogeneous that all the various characteristics of the different nations of the earth – social, political and psychological – may be studied at home. Much could be done in this direction in overcoming national prejudices. In so far as we are able to obtain respect and obedience to our laws from such a variety of people; in so far as we are able to induce them to live among each other with the spirit of fraternal affection, just so far have we accomplished the practicability of international federation.

If there is one day more suited than another for making special effort in this cause, that day is the Fourth of July, the day we celebrate our independence from tyranny and oppression. I say “our independence,” because all of us, no matter of what nationality, participate in the same privileges and blessings which are the inheritance of that independence so heroically fought for, so honorably established and so gloriously maintained.

Still, instead of celebrating our own independence, which is indeed forever secure and safe, it would be nobler by far to utilize that day in an endeavor to accomplish a still greater object, the disarmament of nations and the establishment of peace; a peace which the world has not yet experienced; a peace, not obtained by the sword, but from the sword.

 

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John Collins: Till war becomes a crime abhorred, and earth be blessed with endless peace

October 23, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

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John Collins
England and the Boers

A stain is on thy diadem
And on thy brow a scar,
As history tells thy deeds of crime
In peaceful Afric climes afar.

The greed of gold and foreign lands
May soon allure thee to thy fate,
Till coming years forewarn thy doom,
And leave thee sad and desolate.

The brand of infamy attends
Contention with a weaker foe, –
And nations stand in mute suspense,
Or watch, in fear, the final blow.

What can restore thy tarnished name
Dipped in a murdered nation’s gore?
Who thy supremacy proclaim,
Save only in unrighteous war?

Distrust and hatred of a race
Subjected to unwise control,
Thy bloody triumph shall disgrace,
Long as successive ages roll.

No longer boast thy Christian power
O’er nations underneath thy sway,
Nor send thy sons, as heretofore,
To teach idolaters to pray.

Return, O England! to the Lord,
Whose word was never yet in vain,
“The people that uplift the sword
Shall perish on the battle-plain.”

Return! ere yet it be too late,
While mercy may avert the blow,
Or punishment thy course await,
And thou almighty vengeance know.

Rise in thy might, and bid the sword
Forever sheathed, defiance cease,
Till war becomes a crime abhorred,
And earth be blessed with endless peace.

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Quintus Curtius: So completely does war invert even the laws of Nature

October 22, 2020 Leave a comment

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

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

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Quintus Curtius
From History of Alexander
Translated by John C. Rolfe

Another nation had opposed 40,000 foot-soldiers on the bank of the rivers; Alexander crossed the Acesines, drove them within their walls, and took their town by assault. Those of military age were put to death, the rest were sold. Then, having attempted to storm a second city, but being repulsed by the great strength of its defenders, he lost many of the Macedonians. But when he had persisted in besieging it, the inhabitants, despairing of safety, set fire to their houses and burned to death in the flames themselves and their wives and their children. Since they themselves were spreading the fire, while the enemy were trying to put it out, a novel kind of battle took place; the inhabitants were trying to destroy their city, the enemy were defending it. So completely does war invert even the laws of Nature.


Being admitted to the tent and invited to be seated, they had fixed their eyes on the king’s face, because, I suppose, to those who estimated spirit by bodily stature his moderate size seemed by no means equal to his reputation. However, the comprehension of the Scythians is not so rude and untrained as that of the rest of the barbarians; in fact, some of them are even said to pick up something of philosophy, so far as a race that is always in arms is capable of such knowledge. Hence what they are reported to have said to the king is perhaps foreign to our customs and our orators, who have been allotted more cultivated times and intellects. But although their speech may be scorned, yet our fidelity ought not to be; and so we shall report, their words without change, just as they have been handed down to us.

Well then, we have learned that one of them, the eldest, said: “If the gods had willed that your bodily stature should be equal to your greed, the world would not contain you; with one hand you would touch the rising, with the other the setting sun, and having reached the latter, you would wish to know where the brilliance of so great a god hides itself. So also you desire what you cannot attain. From Europe you pass to Asia, from Asia you cross into Europe; then, when you have subdued the whole human race, you will wage war with the woods, the snows, with rivers and wild beasts. Why, do you not know that great trees are long in growing, but are uprooted in a single hour? He is a fool who looks at their fruits, but does not scan their height. Beware lest, while you strive to reach the top, you fall with the very branches which you have grasped. Even the lion has sometimes been the food of the smallest of birds, and rust consumes iron. Nothing is so strong that it may not be in danger even from the weak. What have we to do with you? We have never set foot in your lands. Are not those who live in the solitary woods allowed to be ignorant who you are, whence you come? We cannot obey any man, nor do we desire to rule any.

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Philip Stafford Moxom: The Palace of Peace

October 21, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

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Philip Stafford Moxom
The Palace of Peace at The Hague

Cheer up, my heart, the better day is dawning,
The better day of which thou dreamedst long,
When, on the god of war no longer fawning,
Mankind shall sweep away the ancient wrong.

The land which Alva’s hordes once desolated,
Where Dutchmen checked the power of haughty Spain,
Where faith and love of freedom new-created
The shrines which war had leveled to the plain,

Has now become the holy place of meeting
Of messengers of good from many lands,
And East and West engage, with friendly greeting,
In weaving strong world-wide fraternal bands.

Where sabers flashed and belching cannon thundered
Is heard the music of the builders’ toil,
And near the field where Gaul’s great captain blundered
The shrine of Peace now rises from the soil.

Not to sweet notes evoked by bright Apollo,
Nor Orpheus’ lyre, these sacred walls arise,
But rhythmic heart-beats of the world they follow
By light of love-gleams in the nations’ eyes.

The level fields of Holland, water-cinctured,
Sublimer grow than templed hills of Rome,
And lovelier than Athens, glory-tinctured,
The Hague becomes benignant Justice’s home.

Here sovran Law shall dim War’s ancient splendor,
Rebuking with strong truth the nations’ wrath;
Here Peace, with gracious mien and accents tender,
Shall lead them onward in her fruitful path.

Then sing, my heart; the glorious day draws nearer,
When strife no more with blood shall drench the earth,
And, each to all and all to each grown dearer,
The peoples, glad, shall thrive in wealth and worth.

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Jessie Wiseman Gibbs: We feed bread of our children to the war-god’s greed

October 20, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

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Jessie Wiseman Gibbs
From Peace Sonnets

XXX
Has Christ failed, then, in Europe? Nay, but her
Philosophers, her diplomats, her courts
Have failed Him, trusting not his heavenly forts
Of faith and love, nor daring from them stir
In valor of his cross, to minister
His life. Therefore for refuge she resorts
To fear and hate, and all her host reports
In camp of the Eternal Murderer.

Christ cannot fail, but He is still the Prince
Of Peace. The Prince of this World faileth since
The world began, and he shall always fail;
He is the Enemy and Christ, the Friend,
Who by his love shall mightily prevail
And of whose Kingdom there shall be no end.

XXXI
Think we that those on whom this tower of ill
Descends, whose blood is mingled thus in vain
With hopeless sacrifices, who so strain
To bring forth good from evil, and fulfil
Their own destruction while they waste and kill,
Think we that they above all lands profane
God’s will, and so in chastisement obtain
His judgment, from which we are scatheless still?

I tell you nay, but except we repent,
Ourselves shall likewise perish: for we feed
Bread of our children to the war-god’s greed
And with unholy mammon are defiled,
And turn away the face of our own child
From Christ, and know not our impoverishment!

XXXIV
The minds of kings are dark; their thoughts are cast
In molds of a dead era, when they traced
Their way to thrones through wars, and ever braced
Themselves thereon by wars; they still hold fast
To that unholy refuge of the past,
Not knowing how a new age hath effaced
Their covenant with death , and firmly based
The strength of nations in Heaven’s life, at last.

But we are of the future; we are free;
And looking from the future’s height, we see
A new United States, of Europe, rise
Out of her ashes and her agonies,
And bid her hail, and cry the King of Kings
Hasten to gather her beneath his wings!

XXXVI
The soul is infinite: the whole world lies,
Of peace and discord, hope and fear, praise, blame,
Heavenly glory and infernal shame,
Folden within its possibilities;
And he who scorns the spirit is not wise;
For out of it all strength and weakness came,
And it alone survives the wreck and flame,
And on it still the social pillars rise.

And I have seen Heaven’s Kingdom fully come
Within a soul disordered and accursed
As this old, sin-sick, warring world, at worst,
Bringing it forth with power to a new birth
Of life and peace; and this is all my sum
Of hope to see that Kingdom come on earth.

XXXVIII
Of old when men were children and conceived
Of God as one who loved their little tribe,
While other tribes had other gods, to gibe
And jeer at theirs, and hate in Heaven grieved
Men’s souls to dare the slaughter they believed
God’s will for earth, war was a boast the scribe
Could chronicle and poets might ascribe
Glory to him who most despite achieved.

But now men know one God and Father of
Them all, one Elder Brother, whose dear love
Is Heaven’s law for earth: war is revealed
A deed most blasphemous, profaning sky
And earth, a most unnatural crime, the yield
Of perfidy and infidelity .

 

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W. C. Benet: Hymn of Peace

October 19, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

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W. C. Benet
Hymn of Peace

Our Heavenly Father, Lord of all,
Humbly before Thy throne we fall;
For world at war, O hear our prayer?
Spare us, good Lord, in mercy spare.

See countless graves of slaughtered dead,
Look on the tears by mourners shed;
Stretch forth, O Lord, Thy mighty hand,
Make war to cease in every land.

Mothers and maidens cry to Thee,
Pleading for peace on land and sea;
With broken heart and choking sigh
Widows and orphans join the cry.

O Holy Jesus, Prince of Peace,
Thou mad’st the angry tempest cease;
Now bend proud monarchs to Thy will,
Say to their armies, “Peace! Be still.”

Come, Holy Ghost, like Heavenly Dove,
Turn strife and hate to peace and love;
O’er the wide world Thine influence pour
Till hostile races rage no more.

Thou knowest, Lord, we are but dust;
Our helper Thou; in Thee we trust;
For bleeding nations hear our prayer?
Spare them, good Lord, in pity spare.
Amen.

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William Mason: Il Pacifico: Joys that peace inspires

October 18, 2020 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

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William Mason
Il Pacifico
Written on the Conclusion of the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle

Hence, pestilential Mars,
Of sable-vested Night and Chaos bred,
On matters formless bed,
Mid the harsh din of elemental jars:
Hence with thy frantic croud,
Wing’d Flight, pale Terror, Discord cloath’d in fire,
Precipitate retire;
While mad Bellona cracks her snaky thong,
And hurries headlong on,
To Ach’ron’s brink and Phlegethon’s flaming flood.
But hail fair Peace, so mild and meek,
With polish’d brow and rosy cheek,
That, on thy fleece-white cloud descending,
Hither, soft-eyed queen, art tending
Gently o’er thy fav’rite land
To wave thy genial myrtle wand:
To shake from off thy turtle wing
Th’ ambrosial dews of endless spring;
Spring, like that, which poets feign,
Gilded Saturn’s easy reign:
For Saturn’s first-born daughter thou;
Unless, as later bards avow,
The youthful God with spangled hair
Closely clasp’d Harmonia fair:
For, banish’d erst Heav’ns star-pav’d floor,
(As sings my legendary lore),
As Phoebus sat by weeping brook,
With shepherds scrip and shepherds crook,
Pensive ‘midst a savage train
(For savage then was all the plain);
Fair Harmonia left her bow’r,
To join her radiant paramour:
Hence didst thou spring; and at thy birth
Lenient Zephyrs fan’d the earth,
Rumbling thunders growl’d no more,
Prowling wolves forgot to roar,
And man, whom fiercer rage possest,
Smil’d dissension from his breast.
She comes, she comes: ye Nymphs, prepare
Gay floral wreaths to bind your hair;
Ye swains, inspire the mellow flute
To dulcet strains, which aptly suit
The featly-footed saraband
Of Phillis trim and Marian bland,
When nimbly light each simpering lass
Trips it o’er the pliant grass.
But see, her social smiling train
Now invests th’ inraptured plain!
Plenty’s pleasure-teeming horn
Showers its fruits, its flow’rs, its corn;
Commerce spreads his amplest sail;
Strong-nerv’d Labour lifts his flail,
Sylvanus too attends (’tis he
That bears the root-pluck’d cypress tree):
He shall my youngling footsteps lead
Thro’ tufted lawn and fringed mead,
By scooped valley, heaped hill,
Level river, dancing rill,
Where the shepherds all appear,
To shear and wash their fleecy care,
Which bleating stand the streams around,
And whiten all the close-cropp’d ground:
Or when the maids in bonnets sheen,
Cock the hay upon the green;
Or up yon steep rough road the swains,
Drive slow along their rolling wains
(Where laughing Ceres crowns the stack,
And makes the pond’rous axle crack),
Then to the village on the hill,
The barns capacious jaws to fill,
Where the answ’ring flails rebound,
Beating bold with thund’ring sound.
Enchanted with this rural scene,
Here let me weave my arb’retts green:
Here arch the woodbine, mantling neat,
O’er my noontide cool retreat;
Or bind the oak with ivy-twine;
Or wed the elm and purpling vine.
But, if my vagrant fancy pants
For charms, that simple nature wants,
Grant, Power benign, admittance free
To some rang’d Academy:
There to give to arts refind
All the impulse of my mind;
And oft observant take my stand,
Here the painter’s magic band
From sketches rude, with gradual art,
Calls dawning life to ev’ry part,
Till, with nice tints all labour’d high,
Each starting hero meets the eye:
Oft too, oh! let me nice inspect,
The draughts of justest architect:
And hence delighted let me pass,
Where others mould the ductile brass;
Or teach the parian stone to wear
A letter’d sage’s musing air.
But ah! these Arts have fix’d their home
In Roman or in Gallic dome:
Though strange beseems, that Arts shou’d spread
Where frowns black Slav’ry’s baleful shade;
And stranger far that Arts decay
Where Freedom deals her warmest ray.
This then denied; I’ll swift retreat,
Where Camus winds with murmur sweet:
There teach me, piercing Locke, t’ explore
The busy mind’s ideal store;
There, heav’n-rapt Newton, guide my way
Mid rolling worlds, thro’ floods of day,
To mark the vagrant comets road,
And thro’ his wonders trace the God.
Then, to unbend my mind, I’ll roam
Amidst the cloysters silent gloom:
Or, where rank’d oaks their shades diffuse,
Hold dalliance with my darling Muse,
Recalling oft some heav’n-born strain,
That warbled in Augustan reign;
Or turn well pleas’d the Graecian page,
If sweet Theocritus engage,
Or blithe Anacreon, mirthful wight,
Caroll his easy love-lay light.
Yet let not all my pleasure lie
Confined to one Phoebeian joy;
But ever give my fingers wings
Lightly to skim the trembling strings,
And from some bow’r to tune the lay:
While list’ning birds croud ev’ry spray,
Or hovering silent o’er my head,
Their quiv’ring wings exulting spread;
Save but the turtles, they alone
With tender plaintive faithful moan,
Shall tell, to all the secret grove,
Their soft thick-warbled tale of love:
Sweet birds! your mingling bliss pursuing,
Ever billing, ever cooing,
Ye! constant pair! I love to note
Your hoarse strain gurgling in your throat;
And, ye unheard, from sidelong hills,
The liquid lapse of whisp’ring rills,
I hist to hear: such sounds diffuse
Sweet transports to the thoughtful Muse.
Thus Summer sees me brisk and light,
‘Till Winter spreads her ‘kerchief white;
Then to the city’s social walls,
Where tolling clock to business calls.
There the weaver’s shuttle speeds,
Nimbly thro’ the fine-spun threads:
There the vocal anvil rings,
While the smith his hammer swings,
And ev’ry man and ev’ry boy
Briskly join in warm employ.
Thro’ such throng’d scenes full oft I’ll range,
Oft croud into the rich exchange:
Or to yon wharf, aside the mote,
Where the anchor’d ships do float,
And others, hast’ning into bay,
Swell their sails in fair array:
Wafting to Albion’s sons the store,
That each Peruvian mine can pour;
Wafting to Albion’s smiling dames,
The ruby’s glow, the diamond’s flames,
Till all the Indies rush into the Thames.
Joys vast as these my fancy claims;
And joys like these, if Peace inspire,
Peace with thee, I string the lyre.

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Frederic Lawrence Knowles: The New Age. The victory which is peace.

October 17, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

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Frederic Lawrence Knowles
The New Age

When navies are forgotten
And fleets are useless things,
When the dove shall warm her bosom
Beneath the eagle’s wings,

When memory of battles
At last is strange and old,
When nations have one banner
And creeds have found one fold,

When the Hand that sprinkles midnight
With its powdered drift of suns
Has hushed this tiny tumult
Of sects and swords and guns;

Then Hate’s last note of discord
In all God’s worlds shall cease,
In the conquest which is service,
In the victory which is peace!

 

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S. B. Dunn: In Terra Pax

October 16, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

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Rev. S. B. Dunn
In Terra Pax

O Mars, dread monarch of relentless War!
When wilt thou pale thy fierce and fiery ray,
To lose thy crimson in that milder day
When men shall learn thy cruel art no more?

Seal fast the portals of each Janus-fane!
Let every weltering sword a ploughshare be,
And every spear a pruning-hook, to see
The irenic glory of Astraea’s reign.

One shed His blood that blood no more might flow,
But man to man a friend and brother prove,
Bound heart and hand in sacred bonds of love,
Lifting from human lives their weight of woe.

O Holy Dove, descend, as once of old,
Upon the Prince of Peace in Jordan’s tide,
The olive branch to proffer far and wide,
And so bring in the promised Age of Gold!

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Horace Walpole: Who gives a nation peace, gives tranquility to all

October 15, 2020 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Horace Walpole: The glory of war and soldiering

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Horace Walpole
From his letters

I recollect that my last letter was a little melancholy; this, to be sure, has a grain or two of national vanity; why, I must own I am a miserable philosopher; the weather of the hour does affect me. I cannot here, at a distance from the world and unconcerned in it, help feeling a little satisfaction when my country is successful; yet, tasting its honours and elated with them, I heartily, seriously wish they had their quietus. What is the fame of men compared to their happiness? Who gives a nation peace, gives tranquillity to all. How many must be wretched, before one can be renowned! A hero bets the lives and fortunes of thousands, whom he has no right to game with: but alas! Caesars have little regard to their fish and counters.

****
I am amazed, with such weather, such ravages, and distress, that there is anything left in Germany, but money; for thither, half the treasure of Europe goes: England, France, Russia, and all the Empress can squeeze from Italy and Hungary, all is sent thither, and yet the wretched people have not subsistence. A A pound of bread sells at Dresden for eleven-pence. We are going to send many more troops thither; and it is so much the fashion to raise regiments, that I wish there were such a neutral kind of beings in England as abbes, that one might have an excuse for not growing military mad, when one has turned the heroic corner of one’s age. I am ashamed of being a young rake, when my seniors are covering their grey toupees with helmets and feathers, and accoutering their pot-bellies with cuirasses and martial masquerade habits.

****

There is a little book coming out, that will amuse you. It is a new edition of Isaac Walton’s “Complete Angler,” full of anecdotes and historic notes. It is published by Mr. Hawkins, – a very worthy gentleman in my neighbourhood, but who, I could wish, did not think angling so very innocent an amusement. We cannot live without destroying animals, but shall we torture them for our sport – sport in their destruction? I met a rough officer at his house t’other day, who; said he knew such a person was turning Methodist; for, in the middle of conversation, he rose, and opened the window to let out a moth. I told him I did not know that the Methodists had any principle so good, and that I, who am certainly not on the point of becoming one, always did so too. One of the bravest and best men I ever knew, Sir Charles Wager, I have often heard declare he never killed a fly willingly. It is a comfortable reflection to me, that all the victories of last year have been gained since the suppression of the Bear Garden and prize-fighting; as it is plain, and nothing else would have made it so, that our valour did not singly and solely depend upon these two Universities.

Lord Byron, Don Juan

And angling, too, that solitary vice,
Whatever Izaak Walton sings or says;
The quaint, old, cruel coxcomb, in his gullet
Should have a hook, and a small trout to pull it.

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Horace Walpole: The glory of war and soldiering

October 15, 2020 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Horace Walpole: Who gives a nation peace, gives tranquility to all

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Horace Walpole
From letters to Horace Mann in 1743 and 1745

I write to you in the greatest hurry in the world, but write I will. Besides, I must wish you joy; you are warriors; nay, conquerors; two things quite novel in this war, for hitherto it has been armies without fighting, and deaths without killing. We talk of this battle as of a comet; “Have you heard of the battle?” it Is so strange a thing, that numbers imagine you may go and see it at Charing Cross. Indeed, our officers, who are going to Flanders, don’t quite like it; they are afraid it should grow the fashion to fight, and that a pair of colours should be no longer a sinecure.


I stayed till to-day, to be able to give you some account of the battle of Tournay: the outlines you will have heard already. We don’t allow it to be a victory on the French side: but that is, just as a woman is not called Mrs. till she is married, though she may have had half-a-dozen natural children. In short, we remained upon the field of battle three hours: I fear, too many of us remain there still!

I believe you will have the Gazette sent tonight; but lest it should not be printed time enough, here is a list of the numbers, as it came over this morning.

British foot 1237 killed.
Ditto horse 90 ditto.
Ditto foot 1968 wounded.
Ditto horse 232 ditto.
Ditto foot 457 missing.
Ditto horse 18 ditto.
Hanoverian foot 432 killed.
Ditto horse 78 ditto.
Ditto foot 950 wounded.
Ditto horse 192 ditto.
Ditto horse and foot 53 missing.
Dutch 625 killed and wounded.
Ditto 1019 missing.

So the whole hors de combat is above seven thousand three hundred. The French own the loss of three thousand; I don’t believe many more, for it was a most desperate and rash perseverance on our side. The Duke behaved very bravely and humanely; but this will not have advanced the peace.

However coolly the Duke may have behaved, and coldly his father, at least his brother has outdone both. He not only went to the play the night the news came, but in two days made a ballad. It is in imitation of the Regent’s style, and has miscarried in nothing but the language, the thoughts, and the poetry.


From a letter to Horace Mann
October 14, 1746

You will have been alarmed with the news of another battle lost in Flanders, where we have no Kings of Sardinia. We make light of it; do not allow it to be a battle, but call it “the action near Lieofe.” Then we have whittled down our loss extremely, and will not allow a man more than three hundred and fifty English slain out of the four thousand. The whole of it, as it appears to me, is, that we gave up eight battalions to avoid fighting; as at Newmarket people pay their forfeit when they fore-see they should lose the race; though, if the whole army had fought, and we had lost the day, one might have hoped to have come off for eight battalions.

Then they tell you that the French had four-and-twenty-pounders, and that they must beat us by the superiority of their cannon; so that to me it is grown a paradox, to war with a nation who have a mathematical certainty of beating you ; or else it is still a stranger paradox, why you cannot have as large cannon as the French. This loss was balanced by a pompous account of the triumphs of our invasion of Bretagne; which, in plain terms, I think, is reduced to burning two or three villages and reimbarking….


From a letter to H.S. Conway
June 8, 1747

I made no remarks on your campaign, because, as you say, you do nothing at all; which, though very proper nutriment for a thinking head, does not do quite so well to write upon. If any one of you can but contrive to be shot upon your post, it is all we desire, shall look upon it as a great curiosity, and will take care to set up a monument to the person so slain ; as we are doing by vote to Captain Cornewall, who was killed at the beginning of the action in the Mediterranean four years ago. In the present dearth of glory, he is canonized; though, poor man! he had been tried twice the year before for cowardice.

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Amanda M. Hicks: A Truce for the Toilers

October 14, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

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Amanda M. Hicks
A Truce for the Toilers

Twenty millions of soldiers in barrack and camp;
Twenty millions of men to be harnessed and fed;
Twenty millions in arms that the world may have peace!
Who must drudge, who must sweat, that these millions have bread?
If men live without toil,
Who must toil in their stead?

New King of the Isles, who must delve, who must dig,
That your dreadnaughts and cruisers may ride every wave?
Who must choke in your mines, who must faint at your looms,
That your land may rank first of the mighty and brave?
New King of the Isles,
Is your problem not grave?

Sunny land of the lilies, fair land of the vine,
Do you dare fling your challenge past border and bar,
While your face is yet pale, and your sinews unknit,
For the life-blood you drained back a century far?
Fair land of the vine,
Do you dare stand for war?

Flesh of bullock for men who in idleness rust;
Brave steeds for bold riders who prance on the plain;
Black bread for the toilers who moil in the dust;
Heated milk-giving kine straining hard at the wain?
Kaiser of Fatherland,
Is your problem not plain?

Do you dare with club brandished, young Thor of the West,
Drink the blood of young children who weave and who spin,
While work-weakened mothers nurse your sons at the breast
Do you dare to stand armed the world’s plaudits to win?
Can the Stars and the Stripes
Hide the stain of your sin?

Great lords of all lands, bold captains of seas,
Call a Truce for the Toilers who delve in the clod!
Cry “Peace” to all peoples; fling the cry to the breeze!
Call a Truce of the Nations, the new Truce of God!
Call the Truce never ending?
The “White Truce of God.”

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William Jennings Bryan: What the world would have lost if Shakespeare had been killed as a soldier, Burns had fallen on the battlefield

October 13, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

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William Jennings Bryan
What America Might Do for Peace
Speech at Edinburgh in 1910

At a great public meeting in Music Hall, Edinburgh, held at the time of the World Missionary Conference, under the auspices of the Edinburgh Peace and Arbitration Society, with many distinguished persons on the platform, William J. Bryan, as reported in the Edinburgh papers, spoke as follows:

“Mr. Bryan, who was received with great enthusiasm, said that he was glad that his country was sufficiently prominent in the peace movement to make it appropriate for him to take part in that meeting. He was sure that whatever differences of opinion they might have at home on economic and political questions, there was a well-nigh universal sentiment in favor of peace. So he thought his right to speak for his country on that subject would not be challenged. Certainly the occasion of the meeting of the Missionary Conference was an opportune time for an expression upon the subject of peace. He believed that the resolution which they would adopt would have great weight. He was willing to carry it home to his own country and bring it to the attention of those in authority, and ask them to give consideration to the voice of Christendom, expressed at this time. He would be glad if those who represented other nations would bring the resolution to the attention of the authorities in their countries, that that meeting might not be without its actual immediate and practical result.

“He had faith in the triumph of the peace movement. (Applause.) All the great forces of the world were behind it. The very fact that the nations of the world were being gathered together in commerce and tied by bonds of trade gave an assurance of peace. They were no longer isolated. They could not but suffer if there was a trade disturbance. There were, however, other greater forces at the back of the movement. The first was the growth in education. The world moved forward intellectually, and it followed necessarily that as people were more intelligent they more and more clearly saw the absurdity of war and the folly of war. (Applause.)

“The intelligent man understood that they could not settle a question of right by force; they simply postponed it that it might be settled on the basis of justice. The intelligent man knew that a nation could not afford to get an advantage by force, for it would have to pay it back with interest after a while. (Applause.) And the intelligent man believed that the time would come when the world would regard the waging of battle between nations as a thing as ridiculous as the waging of battle between individuals looked to us now. (Applause.)

“Another of the great forces working for peace was the growth of popular government. Instead of government by the few, it was going to be more and more government by the many.

“They found now a larger consideration of the people’s interest in the question of war. Wars never brought blessings to the masses who paid the taxes but never enjoyed the benefits. The more the people had to do with government, the more sure was it that the government would have to consider the peace sentiment which was growing in the world. (Applause.) King Edward believed in peace, and his influence was ever on the side of peace, and the world in sorrow and mourning at his death proclaimed that even a king could be greater than his office by rendering a service to mankind. (Applause.) But when King Edward stood for peace he represented the sentiment of his people as well as his own. He (Mr. Bryan) was glad to testify to the interest taken in the cause of peace by Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, and from what he knew of those now in positions of responsibility he thought that he could say that they also shared the sentiment for which Sir Henry and their late lamented king stood. (Applause.) The growing demand of the people for a part in government was seen in the establishment of a Duma in Russia and a legislative body in Turkey and the commencement of an organization of representative government in China. All these steps towards more popular government were steps to wards peace.

“Over here they occasionally might read of the danger of war between America and Japan. He asked them not to be deceived by these newspaper reports. There was no danger at all. (Applause.) He had visited Japan and conversed with her public men, and he was satisfied that there was no desire for or expectation of such a war. Neither country asked anything unjust from the other. Neither would receive from the other any injustice. Neither could find a cause for war if it hunted for it. (Applause.) There were two reasons why they had war with big “scare lines ” – it gave some thing to attract attention in the newspapers and it gave excuse for building more ships. He never expected to see a war between two Christian nations. (Applause.)

“The moral development of the world meant peace. There was more of the sense of brotherhood to-day than ever there was before on earth. These three forces, intellectual, political and moral development of the world, all made for peace. The only trouble was that there were different ways of bringing it about. Some believed in bringing peace by large navies. Many people got discouraged because bigger battleships were being built, and asked why they did not stop. He had wondered him self, but he did not complain because they did not see immediate evidence of that movement. He knew that this movement was growing more rapidly than their navies were. (Applause.) Governments did not represent the highest ideals to be found in a nation; they represented rather the average of the national sentiment. Many people believed that the best way to bring peace was to make war so expensive that they could not afford to fight (Laughter.)

“He believed there was a better plan. It was that a nation should trust to the righteousness of its cause and in the wisdom of doing right. By submitting the questions in dispute to investigation, time would be given for the peace sentiment to work and war would be prevented. Man when he was mad talked about what he could do; when he was calm he talked about what he ought to do. (Applause.) Their wars were generally commenced when people were talking about what they could do, and when they were mad they could not tell whether they had been insulted or not. (Laughter.) They should have time to cool down. What nation could afford to stop the commerce of the world while it fought without telling the world why it fought? A nation owed it to its neighboring nations to come out into the light and let the world know what it was fighting for, and let public opinion get a chance of securing peace without bloodshed. He had faith in the Bible plan, and the nations that believed in peace should be willing to take God at His word and try the plan He had proposed. (Applause.)

“He would like to see his nation make the attempt. He would like to see America say to the world, We don’t intend to do injustice to anybody, and we don’t suspect anybody of an intention to do injustice to us. (Applause.) We are not going to burglarize the world, and we don’t therefore expect to equip ourselves with burglars’ tools. We are going to say that it is righteousness that exalteth a nation, and we will see what the influence is.’ He believed if America announced to the world that it would not build another battleship, that it was not going to encourage war, but that it was going to stand for peace, he did not think his nation would be in the least danger of attack or trouble from any source if it decided to submit its disputes to investigation. If the nations were tied together by such bonds or treaties, then war would be practically impossible. (Applause.) In emphasizing what the world would gain when slaughter ceased and the era of brotherhood began, Mr. Bryan asked what the world would have lost if Shakespeare had been killed as a soldier boy and Burns had fallen on the battlefield. They could imagine what the world would have gained if war had not consumed so many of their best and bravest.” (Applause.)

The resolution to which Mr. Bryan was speaking, and which was adopted by acclamation, declared that the nations should enter into treaties stipulating that the contracting parties would, in all cases before any declaration of war or commencement of hostilities, submit the question or questions in dispute to an impartial international tribunal for investigation and report.

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Robert Hugh Benson: The whole human race will be at war

October 12, 2020 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

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Robert Hugh Benson
From The Lord of the World

“Europe is arming as fast as possible. I hear we are to meet the Powers next week at Paris. I must go.”

****

“There is no more. But it is just as certain as it can be that this is the crisis. If the East can be persuaded to hold its hand now, it will never be likely to raise it again. It will mean free trade all over the world, I suppose, and all that kind of thing. But if not -”

“Well?”

“If not, there will be a catastrophe such as never has been even imagined. The whole human race will be at war, and either East or West will be simply wiped out. These new Benninschein explosives will make certain of that.”

“But is it absolutely certain that the East has got them?”

“Absolutely. Benninschein sold them simultaneously to East and West; then he died, luckily for him.”

Mabel had heard this kind of talk before, but her imagination simply refused to grasp it. A duel of East and West under these new conditions was an unthinkable thing. There had been no European war within living memory, and the Eastern wars of the last century had been under the old conditions. Now, if tales were true, entire towns would be destroyed with a single shell. The new conditions were unimaginable. Military experts prophesied extravagantly, contradicting one another on vital points; the whole procedure of war was a matter of theory; there were no precedents with which to compare it. It was as if archers disputed as to the results of cordite. Only one thing was certain – that the East had every modern engine, and, as regards male population, half as much again as the rest of the world put together; and the conclusion to be drawn from these premisses was not reassuring to England.

But imagination simply refused to speak. The daily papers had a short, careful leading article every day, founded upon the scraps of news that stole out from the conferences on the other side of the world….Nothing suffered very much; trade went on; European stocks were not appreciably lower than usual; men still built houses, married wives, begat sons and daughters, did their business and went to the theatre, for the mere reason that there was no good in anything else. They could neither save nor precipitate the situation; it was on too large a scale. Occasionally people went mad – people who had succeeded in goading their imagination to a height whence a glimpse of reality could be obtained; and there was a diffused atmosphere of tenseness. But that was all. Not many speeches were made on the subject; it had been found inadvisable. After all, there was nothing to do but to wait.

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Thomas Gray: Poetry subdues war

October 11, 2020 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Thomas Gray: Clouds of carnage blot the sun; weave the crimson web of war

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Thomas Gray
The Progress of Poesy
A Pindaric Ode

Oh! Sovereign of the willing soul,
Parent of sweet and solemn-breathing airs,
Enchanting shell! the sullen Cares
And frantic Passions hear thy soft control.
On Thracia’s hills the Lord of War,
Has curb’d the fury of his car,
And dropp’d his thirsty lance at thy command.
Perching on the sceptred hand
Of Jove, thy magic lulls the feather’d king
With ruffled plumes and flagging wing:
Quench’d in dark clouds of slumber lie
The terror of his beak, and light’nings of his eye.

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Julia S. Tutwiler: O, the world has grown weary of battle and strife

October 10, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

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Julia S. Tutwiler
Let Our Banner Be Thine

O, the world has grown weary of battle and strife;
She is weary of death; she is longing for life.
And here in her glory Columbia stands,
A star on her brow and a lamp in her hands.
She will guide, she will lead and illumine the way,
Till the nations of earth are all brothers for aye.

O, ye angels who once upon Bethlehem’s plain
Sang of peace upon earth and goodwill unto men,
Come, descend in compassion once more unto earth,
And renew in our hearts the miraculous birth.
Bid the war-fiend for aye cease his terrible game,
And send back the demon to Hell whence he came.

Let our banner be thine, Prince of Peace and of Love;
On its staff, for the eagle, thy baptismal dove;
Let the stars in its folds but betoken the one
That led the Wise Men to the cradle – thy throne;
And the stripes of bright crimson declare thou hast bled,
That man’s blood by man’s hand nevermore shall be shed.

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Cecelia De Vere: The American flag. Peacemakers, called the children of Great God.

October 9, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

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Cecelia De Vere
The American Flag
Read at the Mystic Peace Convention

It was the emblem of a dawning day,
Type of earth’s brave, aggressive hope,
The hope that called to freedom far away
To take a heritage of broader scope.

That flag flashed glory from the loftiest hight,
Spanned with new smiles the solemn circling sky,
Holding the stars it rescued from the night
(The stars colonial) sparkling safe and high.

Crushed nations gladly saw through blinding tears
Emancipation’s herald, true and bold,
Oppression’s air was rent with ringing cheers,
And tyrants read their doom in every fold.

The Young Republic waved it to the gale,
Pressing through curling flame and rolling smoke;
Strong, rapturous voices proudly bade it hail,
While manhood trampled on a royal yoke.

Bright broke the sunburst o’er the battlefield
In splendid contrast to its darkling woe,
Fair rose our ensign, unto freedom sealed,
As free from blood as morning’s vivid glow.

‘Tis true brave men lay white beneath its bloom,
While sorrow held its staff and wept their fall;
Still of grim war it prophesied the doom,
For honor raised it up at heaven’s call.

What was “Old Glory”? Dreamed we it could fade,
Or lose the loveliness that arched the tide?
Was it an idol for our homage made
That matin music reared aloft with pride?

Whate’er it was, the world now sees with pain
That flag subservient to greed’s desire,
Treason’s black brand, fierce slaughter’s crimson stain
And whelming selfishness that blights like fire.

The world now sees the banner of our boasts
Dragged to debasement through invasion’s crimes,
Tattered and crumpled ‘neath the putrid hosts
Rapaciously cut down in their own climes.

It will not cleanse through leagues of sea outspread,
Nor purify below the tropic sun;
It is the winding sheet of murdered dead,
The pall of victories but lately won.

O Liberty, bend o’er our flag and weep!
Thy tears will fall, not on its stains alone,
But they will fall that schemes so foul and deep
Were bred like serpents in a land thine own;

And that misguided patriotic sons
Were slaughtering helpless ones on sea and shore,
That “Christian” men stood calmly at their guns
And saw poor victims deluged in their gore.

Ah! they forgot the angels’ midnight song,
These military slaves who must obey,
Who dare not flinch however great the wrong
That plants its hideous form in virtue’s way.

Poor military slaves! they prove apace
The savage blindness that has ruled the years,
When the fair flag that gladness brought the race
Now symbolizes rapine, blood and tears.

It should have fluttered to the angels’ song,
The song of morning stars, that still is sung;
Men knelt with varying prayers through ages long,
While but one answer from the chorus rung.

Besieging centuries in garments red,
In clotted rankling raiment, kept earth’s ills,
Till simple shepherds heard those strains o’erhead,
Amid the stillness on Judea’s hills.

We trace a line of progress from that time;
Learning and science lift their voices strong;
The arts have reached an altitude sublime;
Tradition was entrusted with the song.

O deaf as well as blind the world hath been!
It did not listen to the notes of peace,
Nor hear the saving words, “Goodwill to men.”
The much it mastered still excluded these.

Peacemakers, called the children of Great God –
Shall they not shout with joy’s ecstatic thrill?
Shall they not send the messages abroad
Of peace on earth and gentle, pure goodwill?

Yea, when Bethlehem’s star doth shine within,
And hearts are tuned to love’s angelic sphere,
The whole rich symphony this life shall win;
Hark! the sweet prelude even now we hear.

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Robert Bridges: And this is War!

October 8, 2020 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

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Robert Bridges
War

And this is War!
The vengeful spirit of an ancient race
Clad in brave armor, wounded in its pride;
The joy of battle in its mailèd face,
Driving its foemen like a rising tide
That swirls the sea-folk on the curving beach,
And leaves them stranded there to rot and bleach.

And this is War!
A peaceful highway on a sunny hill,
A file of busy ants that bravely toil
Until they meet their fellows – stop to kill,
And then march onward with the robber spoil;
When from the clouds a sudden, driving rain
Sweeps them, unheeding, to the flooded plain.

And this is War!
An eddy in the dust, a troubled pool,
A pebble in the river’s mighty flow –
Man’s feeble effort, like the painted fool,
To prove that he is master of the show;
While laws immutable uplift the clod
And mould him to the purposes of God!

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Jessie Wiseman Gibbs: Crown him with many crowns, the Prince of Peace

October 7, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

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Jessie Wiseman Gibbs
From Peace Sonnets

XI
Crown Him with many crowns, United States!
A crown for every one – one crown for all!
Crown Him, ye thousand cities, great and small!
Crown Him, ye villages and farms, whose gates
Teem with the future! Crown Him, Magistrates,
Governors, President! Before Him fall
And vow yourselves the vassals of his thrall!
Crown Him, each soul that for God’s Kingdom waits!

Call Him our Counsellor, our mighty God,
Our everlasting Father, Prince of Peace,
Whose Kingdom in our hearts can never cease;
Who plants the life of God in us to grow
And bring forth healing for the nations – 0
He shall bring down all Heaven upon our sod!

XVI
America! New World! Empire of Man!
Hope of the nations! Land of destiny,
Wherein the whole world looks to be set free!
Think’st thou to bind the races with a ban
Of peace, who hated since the world began?
For black, red, brown, white, yellow, meet in thee;
And wilt thou teach them all one fealty?
And be to all one mother, if thou can!

Hope not to do it by any earthly thing;
But only by Himself, who is the King
Of Kings and Lord of Lords, the Almighty Son
Of God and man, whose love hath power to bring
All men of every race and clime in one
Unto his Father, till his will be done!

XVII
O for the prophet’s vision to discern
The things of thy dear peace, to read for thee
The inner secret of all history!
O for the will in thee to look and learn!
What were those mighty forces that could burn
Up nations into empires? – Look and see:
Alexander, Cæsar, Charlemagne, and he,
The fierce Mogul, Napoleon, – each in turn!

Their spirits gone, how soon their realms decayed!
And shall we take the world to us and think
To stand, one body, with no soul arrayed
Therein as King of all? The devil enticed
Us to this thought, who would that we should sink
To ruin with the rest, – but crown we Christ!

XVIII
Think you if those six thousand murderers
Who wrought their deeds of blood in us last year
Had had the spirit of Christ, we had had fear?
Think you if those uncounted worshippers
Of lust and mammon which our age incurs
Through ignorance of God, had dared to rear
Their bloody idols up amongst us here,
If we had had his spirit in us, sirs?

Hear, O my Brothers! Iron bars nor laws
Shall ever save us, but his secret art;
And love of Him is more than all police
And ships of war to keep our realm in peace;
And this is our great policy, to cause
Each child to know and love Him in his heart!

XXII
Ye peoples who profess to worship Christ,
Ye kings who claim Him for your Overlord,
Ye parliaments who hear his saving word,
Ye souls who live by what He sacrificed, –
In what an evil hour are ye enticed
Of this world’s Prince to lift the murderous sword
Against each other, – ye, whose treasures horde
A love that for the world’s peace had sufficed!

Are ye not traitors to your Sovereign King,
Whom He would bring in one, to do this thing?
Who then shall save you when the heathen laugh?
Hope ye yet in the sword, to live thereby?
The sword, wherein ye trust, shall turn and quaff
Your blood, and by it ye shall surely die!

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Henry van Dyke: Stain Not the Sky

October 6, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

John Galsworthy, 1911: Air war last and worst hideous development of the black arts of warfare

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Henry van Dyke
Stain Not the Sky
March 5, 1914

Ye gods of battle, lords of fear,
Who work your iron will as well
As once ye did with sword and spear,
With rifled gun and rending shell,—
Masters of sea and land, forbear
The fierce invasion of the inviolate air!

With patient daring man hath wrought
A hundred years for power to fly;
And will you make his winged thought
A hovering horror in the sky,
Where flocks of human eagles sail,
Dropping their bolts of death on hill and dale?

Ah no, the sunset is too pure,
The dawn too fair, the noon too bright
For wings of terror to obscure
Their beauty, and betray the night
That keeps for man, above his wars,
The tranquil vision of untroubled stars.

Pass on, pass on, ye lords of fear!
Your footsteps in the sea are red,
And black on earth your paths appear
With ruined homes and heaps of dead.
Pass on to end your transient reign,
And leave the blue of heaven without a stain.

The wrong ye wrought will fall to dust,
The right ye shielded will abide;
The world at last will learn to trust
In law to guard, and love to guide;
And Peace of God that answers prayer
Will fall like dew from the inviolate air.


Peace-Hymn of the Republic

O Lord our God, Thy mighty hand
Hath made our country free;
From all her broad and happy land
May praise arise to Thee.
Fulfill the promise of her youth,
Her liberty defend;
By law and order, love and truth,
America befriend!

The strength of every State increase
In Union’s golden chain;
Her thousand cities fill with peace,
Her million fields with grain.
The virtues of her mingled blood
In one new people blend;
By unity and brotherhood,
America befriend!

O suffer not her feet to stray;
But guide her untaught might,
That she may walk in peaceful day,
And lead the world in light.
Bring down the proud, lift up the poor,
Unequal ways amend;
By justice, nation-wide and sure,
America befriend!

Thro’ all the waiting land proclaim
Thy gospel of good-will;
And may the music of Thy name
In every bosom thrill.
O’er hill and vale, from sea to sea.
Thy holy reign extend;
By faith and hope and charity,
America befriend!

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William Norman Ewer: Five Souls

October 5, 2020 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

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William Norman Ewer
Five Souls

FIRST SOUL
I was a peasant of the Polish plain;
I left my plough because the message ran: –
Russia, in danger, needed every man
To save her from the Teuton; and was slain.
I gave my life for freedom – this I know:
For those who bade me fight had told me so.

SECOND SOUL.
I Was a Tyrolese, a mountaineer:
I gladly left my mountain home to fight
Against the brutal, treacherous Muscovite:
And died in Poland on a Cossack spear.
I gave my life for freedom – this I know:
For those who bade me fight had told me so.

THIRD SOUL
I worked in Lyons at my weaver’s loom,
When suddenly the Prussian despot hurled
His felon blow at France and at the world:
Then I went forth to Belgium and my doom.
I gave my life for freedom – this I know:
For those who bade me fight had told me.

FOURTH SOUL
I owned a vineyard by the wooded Main.
Until the Fatherland, begirt by foes
Lusting her downfall, called me, and I rose
Swift to the call – and died in fair Lorraine.
I gave my life for freedom – this I know:
For those who bade me fight had told me so.

FIFTH SOUL
I worked in a great shipyard by the Clyde;
There came a sudden word of wars declared,
Of Belgium, peaceful, helpless, unprepared,
Asking our aid: I joined the ranks, and died.
I gave my life for freedom – this I know:
For those who bade me fight had told me so.

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Elinor Wylie: Peace falls unheeded on the dead

October 4, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

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Elinor Wylie
Bells in the Rain

Sleep falls, with limpid drops of rain,
Upon the steep cliffs of the town.
Sleep falls; men are at peace again
Awhile the small drops fall softly down.

The bright drops ring like bells of glass
Thinned by the wind, and lightly blown;
Sleep cannot fall on peaceful grass
So softly as it falls on stone.

Peace falls unheeded on the dead
Asleep; they have had deep peace to drink;
Upon a live man’s bloody head
It falls most tenderly, I think.

****

The Lion And The Lamb

I saw a Tiger’s golden flank,
I saw what food he ate,
By a desert spring he drank;
The Tiger’s name was Hate.

Then I saw a placid Lamb
Lying fast asleep;
Like a river from its dam
Flashed the Tiger’s leap.

I saw a lion tawny-red,
Terrible and brave;
The Tiger’s leap overhead
Broke like a wave.

In sand below or sun above
He faded like a flame.
The Lamb said, “I am Love;
Lion, tell your name.”

The Lion’s voice thundering
Shook his vaulted breast,
“I am Love. By this spring,
Brother, let us rest.”

****

Blood Feud

Once, when my husband was a child, there came
To his father’s table, one who called him kin,
In sunbleached corduroys paler than his skin.
His look was grave and kind; he bore the name
Of the dead singer of Senlac, and his smile.
Shyly and courteously he smiled and spoke;
“I’ve been in the laurel since the winter broke;
Four months, I reckon; yes, sir, quite a while.”

He’d killed a score of foemen in the past,
In some blood-feud, a dark and monstrous thing;
To him it seemed his duty. At the last
His enemies found him by a forest spring,
Which, as he died, lay bright beneath his head,
A silver shield that slowly turned to red.

****

Incantation

A white well
In a black cave;
A bright shell
In a dark wave.

A white rose
Black brambles hood;
Smooth bright snows
In a dark wood.

A flung white glove
In a dark fight;
A white dove
On a wild black night.

A white door
In a dark lane;
A bright core
To bitter black pain.

A white hand
Waved from dark walls;
In a burnt black land
Bright waterfalls.

A bright spark
Where black ashes are;
In the smothering dark
One white star.

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Katrina Trask: The Statue of Peace

October 3, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

Katrina Trask: A dialogue on God and war

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Katrina Trask
The Statue of Peace*

The Daughter of Tradition – that fair Maid
Called, falsely, by the splendid name of Peace –
Still haunts the Land in marble and in bronze;
Her graceful garments fall in quiet folds,
Enriched with leaves of laurel at the hem:
Before the fevered eyes of baffled men,
In the mad struggle of a frenzied world,
She holds a futile olive-branch – and smiles:
Her sweetly placid lips would seem to say,
“Peace dwells apart, safe-sheltered from the storm.”

O Sculptor of the Future, bring to us
The larger mind, endowed with power to see
Behind the veil the Vision of the Truth!
The conscious marble waits your quickening hand!
Show forth the true embodiment of Peace!

Peace is no limp and pallid Negative!
Peace is the living Positive of God!
Her life abundant is unending work;
Her course is ceaseless movement to the stars!

Make her a noble woman, brave to dare;
In every line of figure and of face
Chisel bold strokes of action and of strength;
Her mission is to master – not to yield;
Her destined duty to wage constant war
On Sin and Evil through the mortal years:
Not with the ancient weapons of the world –
But with the white flame of her valiant Soul!

Carve on her dauntless lips a lofty scorn
Of brutal practices employed by men
Who stoop to bloodshed and to cruel fight,
Like savage beasts that rend and tear their prey;
Poise her proud head as one who would not bend
To passing gusts of passion and revenge;
Fashion her hands outstretched to help mankind;
Create new harmonies where discords jar;
Blow back her storm-tossed garments in the wind.
She stays not for the sunshine – she goes forth
Though tempests roar and threatening thunders roll;
She knows no fear to die – no fear to live.

Peace is a Spirit-Warrior! She strives
With unseen forces, fiercer to subdue
Than marshaled hosts equipped with armaments;
And when she conquers ’tis immortal gain;
Hers is no transient triumph of the hour;
Her conquest is the victory supreme.
The Victory of Spirit over flesh.

Crown her, O Master, with the crown of crowns,
And show her mighty in the might of God!

*(The above poem was Mrs. Spencer Trask has been inspired by the proposed presentation by the United States of a statue of Peace to the Peace Palace at The Hague, now awaiting an appropriation by Congress and the choice of a sculptor: New York Times.)

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Berton Braley: The nobler army fights the bloodless battles of industry and peace

October 2, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

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Berton Braley
The Nobler Army
Written expressly for Coal Age, 1915

The men who fight in Europe – they fight to maim and kill,
They heap the dead in windrows with cold and cruel skill.
They fight to wreak destruction, to lay a country bare,
And death, disease and famine are with them everywhere.
With guns and belching cannon they drive the people forth
To face the raging winter that sweeps from out the North.
The men who fight in Europe with deadly ruthlessness
Have filled the world with terror and sorrow and distress!

The men who fight in Europe – they fight to lay men low;
We fight with drill and powder, and nature is our foe,
We fight against the darkness, the secret deeps of earth,
To win the buried treasure of which we know the worth;
We fight that men may labor and love and live and dream
Amid the modern magic of iron and of steam,
And all the loot we capture the hosts of toil shall burn
To foil the winds of winter and make the engines turn.

The men who fight in Europe – they fight with courage bold
To make a people hungry and suffering and cold;
We fight to warm the hearthstone, to turn the wheels of trade,
To utilize the riches that God himself has made;
Our army digs it trenches that comfort may increase,
We fight the bloodless battles of industry and peace,
We fight for life and happiness – and not for death and dole,
This army that goes underground to mine the gleaming coal!

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José Santos Chocano: When a future explorer uncovers that rarest of things, a sword

October 1, 2020 Leave a comment

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

José Santos Chocano
Archeology
Translated by Alice Stone Blackwell

Searching ‘mid Eastern ruins, groping slow,
When some explorer in our modern days
His hand upon a hidden treasure lays –
Gold idols heathens worshiped long ago –
Then with what eager interest aglow
The spirit of the Present backward strays
To that far age when priests raised hymns of praise
To monsters base, deformed, with foreheads low!

When our age too is dead, from tomb to tomb
Some new explorer, groping in the gloom,
Will search for what the ruins may afford.
How great his fear, how strange his thoughts will be
When, gleaming ‘mid the shadows, he shall see,
Rarest, most precious treasure trove, a sword!

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Samuel Bernard: A pipe dream of peace

September 30, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

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Samuel Bernard
Smoke

Pa, Ma, and my sister Louise were discussing at supper the recent happenings of the war.

“I tell you,” continued Pa, “Germany wants us to get into the fray, because then we’d need for ourselves all the ammunition we make and would stop exporting it to England or Russia. Our navy and army is a joke in comparison with the huge army and navy of Germany.”

“But does not Germany consider our possibilities?” asked sister Louise. “Would we not in casting our lot with the allies make certain the defeat of Germany?”

“Well,” Pa replied, “a girl of your age shouldn’t bother your head about the possible solution of these world problems. They are properly handled by men of wide information and experience in national and international affairs, men who possess great wisdom – ”

“They are properly handled by men who possess great wisdom?” mother interrupted. “One would suppose that men possessed of great wisdom would know of a less devilish way of settling an argument than by setting one band of innocent men to murder with the most deadly weapons they can conceive another band of equally innocent men. What do they settle when they drench the fields with the blood of the dear boys of the nation? These wise men don’t want us mothers to have a voice in the government, for well they know we wouldn’t put up with having our sons sent as cattle to the slaughter pen. You talk about your wise men! Could women have done worse?”

There was silence.

Supper over, I took my pipe from the mantelpiece, filled it with tobacco, lit it and sat down, puffing liberally….There she stood….What a wonderful creature of a great Creator!…How gracious and fascinating!…What great passionate attraction,…a being of absolute perfection….Yet she looks dejected. She is crying as if she were as help less as a child. Her golden hair is disheveled. Her clothes are torn to shreds. She is shedding bitter tears, which mix with the blood running so freely from her bruised body.

I wanted to get near her, but I couldn’t move.

“Who are you?” I murmured in amazement.

“So you, you also have forgotten me.”…

“Pray tell me who – …Ah! Goddess of Liberty!”

“‘Goddess of Liberty!'” she repeated in a voice of extreme sadness. “A Goddess once was I to many. For liberty they cheerfully endured great hardships. Nay, for me, for liberty, they said they would gladly give their very lives. Then they were leaders in world progress. Then they worked for the betterment and happiness of themselves and their brothers in all lands. Now you see them determined to kill, to slaughter their brothers and comrades. You see them as cattle, following blindly their military leaders to their own ruin. What do these military leaders think they will settle by destroying what it has taken ages to build, and by killing off the best manhood, leaving the feeble to be the fathers of the future generation? If only those responsible for this hell would be the sacrifice! What human anguish, big crops of cripples, big crops of widows, the loser and winner will have alike!

“And now, my last hope: this great nation! Imbued with my spirit, the country where I still exist, the land of liberty, the only ray of hope to the children of all mankind, here where one can still enjoy the happiness of peace and where all should realize the horrors of war! The men who control the affairs of this great and happy nation in these dark hours, the leaders; shall they show a humane way to settle differences? Or are they willing to follow the others on the road that can only lead to the cursed inferno?”…

…”Dear, what is the matter?” mother insisted.

“What! Were you crying?” father asked.

“What is this?” asked sister Louise, looking at me surprised.

“I dreamed,” I stammered brokenly, “just a pipe dream, I guess.”

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Clement Wood: Victory – Without Peace

September 29, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

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Clement Wood
Victory – Without Peace

The slaughter-bugles screamed once more,
Over the patchwork lands of men,
And scattered, sword-hewn empires tore
Each other’s greedy hearts again –

One with a black and boastful greed,
Seeking a red supremacy;
The other with a mumbled creed
That it was armed to make men free.

Each steppe and pampa woke to flame
And joined the berserker advance;
From wild forgotten roads they came,
For the world ‘s roads all led to France.

And now no more the hail of steel
Tortures the lines of brown and gray…
The brief, joy-mad processions reel
And drop…and it is peace, men say.

Peace? When wherever men are found
The victors cry, “But just so free!”
And reddened banners spring from the ground,
For freer red supremacy….

A hollow shell of victory,
With war still writhing at its heart;
A clipped and gelded liberty,
Striving to force its chain apart!

Yet solvent love is not too far,
If men grow wise, or mobs stay kind;
And we could calm this troubled star,
Its singing rapture unconfined.

Now take your choice, O you who hoard
Frail-fingered power, weak lordly breath;
Young freedom, or the age-scarred sword,
Which leaves no peace on earth – but death.

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Charles d’Orléans: Pray for Peace

September 28, 2020 Leave a comment

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

French writers on war and peace

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Charles d’Orléans (1394-1465)
Pray for Peace

O praye for peace, sweet mayde Marie
High Queene of Heaven and world’s mistrésse,
Make praye your holy companie
By gentle favour, and addresse
Your Sonne that from his loftinesse
He maye his wayward people heede
For whom in ransom he did bleede,
Nowe prone for warre that wasteth all;
O praye and never cease to plead
That peace, joy’s treasure, maye befall.

Praye priests and who live holilie;
Sleeke friars leave your slothfulnesse;
Praye learnéd men lest warre should be
That setteth studie in sore stresse;
The ruined shrine you shall not blesse
Who there nor missal write nor read,
Nor followe where Lord Godde doth lead.
Then loudly nowe upon Hym call,
For soe ordaineth church and creed,
That peace, joy’s treasure, maye befall.

Praye Princes who hold landes in fee,
Kynges, Dukes, Earls, all of knightly fesse,
And gentlemen of chivalrie,
Lest churls o’ercome your gentlenesse;
In graspynge hands your wealth growes lesse,
From hot dispute and evil greede,
As you maye see. O intercede,
(For they growe proude and rich with all
Wherwith your people you should feede)
That peace, joy’s treasure, maye befall.

Praye folk that bear hard tyrannie,
For sore is your lords’ feeblenesse
Who cannot holde their masterie
Nor help you in your evil stresse;
Praye merchant in sore paine noe lesse,
Too long a-straddle on your steede,
(For you noe more afar maye speede
To barter in the baron’s hall,
Such peril doth the highwaye breede)
That peace, joy’s treasure, maye befall.

Envoi

Lord Godde Almightie doth us heede.
From Earth, Sky, Ocean, in our neede
Let prayer rise unto Him from all,
Who onlye can amend ill deede,
That peace, joy’s treasure, maye befall.

Charles d’Orléans
Priez pour Paix

Priez pour paix, douce Vierge Marie,
Reine des cieux et du monde maistresse,
Faites prier, par vostre courtoisie,
Saints et saintes, et prenez vostre adresse
Vers vostre fils, requérant sa hautesse
Qu’il lui plaise son peuple regarder
Que de son sang a voulu racheter,
En déboutant guerre qui tout desvoie;
De prières ne vous veuillez lasser,
Priez pour paix, le vrai trésor de joie.

Priez, prélats et gens de sainte vie,
Religieux, ne dormez en paresse,
Priez, maistres et tous suivant clergie,
Car par guerre faut que l’estude cesse;
Moustiers destruits sont sans qu’on les redresse,
Le service de Dieu vous faut laisser,
Quand ne pouvez en repos demeurer;
Priez si fort que briefment Dieu vous oie,
L’Eglise veut à ce vous ordonner;
Priez pour paix, le vrai trésor de joie.

Priez, princes qui avez seigneurie,
Rois, ducs, comtes, barons pleins de noblesse,
Gentils hommes avec chevalerie;
Car meschants gens surmontent gentillesse;
En leurs mains ont toute vostre richesse,
Débats les font en haut estat monter,
Vous le pouvez chascun jour voir à clair,
Et sont riches de vos biens et monnoie,
Dont vous deussiez le peuple supporter;
Priez pour paix, le vrai trésor de joie.

Priez, peuples qui souffrez tyrannie,
Car vos seigneurs sont en telle faiblesse
Qu’ils ne peuvent vous garder pour maistrie,
Ni vous aider en votre grand destresse;
Loyaux marchands, la selle si vous blesse
Fort sur le dos, chacun vous vient presser
Et ne pouvez marchandise mener,
Car vous n’avez sûr passage ni voie,
En maint péril vous convient-il passer;
Priez pour paix, le vrai trésor de joie.

Envoi

Dieu tout-puissant nous vueille conforter
Toutes choses en terre, ciel et mer,
Priez vers lui que brief en tout pourvoie;
En lui seulement est de tous maux amender;
Priez pour paix, le vrai trésor de joie.

 

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Friedrich Martin von Bodenstedt: Christianity and War

September 27, 2020 Leave a comment

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

German writers on peace and war

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Friedrich Martin von Bodenstedt
Christianity and War
Translated by Ernest H. Crosby

Talk, if you will, of hero deed,
Of clash of arms and battle wonders;
But prate not of your Christian creed
Preached by the cannon’s murderous thunders.

And if your courage needs a test,
Copy the pagan’s fierce behavior;
Revel in bloodshed east and west,
But speak not with it of the Saviour.

The Turk may wage a righteous war
In honor of his martial Allah;
But Thor and Odin live no more,
Dead are the gods in our Valhalla.

Be what you will, entire and free,
Christian or warrior, each can please us;
But not the rank hypocrisy
Of warlike followers of Jesus.

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Edwin Arnold Brenholtz: The Demon, War

September 26, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Edwin Arnold Brenholtz: The Passion of Peace

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Edwin Arnold Brenholtz
The Demon, War

The demon, War, has doomed the race,
Has damned the race,
Enslaved the race!
Through ages past his hated face
Wore no disguise;
Before the eyes
He seized his prize,
And men applauding praised,
And altars to him raised.

The demon, War, has cursed the race,
Has culled the race,
Has conned the race!
At times he hides his hated face:
In business guise,
Before men’s eyes,
Seizes his prize,
And men applauding praise –

New altars to him raise.
Behind the peaceful mask he wears
There is the demon and his snares.
He conned the race, saw tender hearts;
He culled the race by hunger’s darts;
He cursed the race for frantic fools
That would not openly be tools,
But would betray into his hands
All people, property and lands
If much-loved mask were worn –
Look! it is from him torn.

He hates the mask, for War is bold:
His method force, not bought and sold.
Enslaved the race to Business stands,
And doomed, delivered to War’s hands –
And forced to do his loathsome deeds
In face of Peace who pleads and pleads;
Who pleads with us, “Be more than wise:
Shall this disguise hide him from eyes?
Scarce dare he show his face this day
Lest men refuse to brothers slay
On battle’s bloodstained field –
Look! he is here revealed.”

Stand forth, O War, not now concealed;
Stand forth, thy hideous front revealed!
We fear thee, dread thee, but will dare
Thy utmost power in combat fair.
In peace and love all men should be;
If fight must we, it shall be thee.
Thou art a cruel coward caught
Disguised behind gilt trappings wrought
By Business for thy proper use.
The sight of thee calls forth abuse;
For, loving Peace, we would not fight;
But thou on earth art mortal blight,
And war must die or we –
This combat sets us free.

O War, whatever thy disguise,
We hate thee, loathe thee, and despise.
We pity people praised by thee
As those who never will be free.
Enslaver, thou thyself art tool
And scarecrow used to daunt that fool
That dares not claim his rights for fear
Thy horrid head should then appear.
Thou braggart strutter saying, “I
Have caused mankind to rise so high.”
That lie immense should Satan choke
As larger than he ever spoke,
And we this day deny thy claim
And all man’s baseness on thee blame.
O War, that woe and want attend,
Thou hast not one unpurchased friend!
Peace on thy grave shall stand,
Triumphant in a loving land.

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Joseph Lee: German Prisoners

September 25, 2020 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

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Joseph Lee
German Prisoners

When first I saw you in the curious street
Like some platoon of soldier ghosts in grey,
My mad impulse was all to smite and slay,
To spit upon you – tread you ‘neath my feet.
But when I saw how each sad soul did greet
My gaze with no sign of defiant frown,
How from tired eyes looked spirits broken down,
How each face showed the pale flag of defeat,
And doubt, despair, and disillusionment,
And how were grievous wounds on many a head,
And on your garb red-faced was other red,
And how you stooped as men whose strength was spent,
I knew that we had suffered each as other,
And could have grasped your hand and cried, “My brother!”

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Charles Edward Montague: Selections on war and its aftermath

September 24, 2020 Leave a comment
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Ethel Talbot Scheffauer: The sun shall rise upon a newer world that has forgot to kill

September 23, 2020 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Women writers on peace and war

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Ethel Talbot Scheffauer
The Dead Man’s Watch
(Over the Peace Conference in Paris)

In the white and delicate city, where pleasure mates with art,
There are ghosts walking, and they are sick at heart.

And there are those walking that drowned in the deep seas,
With the sands in their thick hair and the weeds about their knees.

And there are those walking that never will be found
By the bird in the air or the worm under the ground.

Thunder clamored and flame flew, and where God’s creature went
There rose but a little smoke from the grey earth foully rent.

And they that are not, in their thin and piteous hosts
Walk the streets by daylight, the grey, unheeded ghosts.

And fear is in their faces and horror in their eyes
For he that dies in vain, a double death he dies.

And they whisper one to another, and they murmur their dull pleas:
“What if the peace of the old men shall be a toothed peace?

“What if the peace of the old men be made with tooth and claw,
By the strong according to his strength, as in the crimson law?

“Brother, we gave our only life the crimson law to kill,
And spilled the iron chalice out upon the tortured hill.

“Go, sink upon his shoulder, and whisper at his ear,
And knock at the heart of each old man, that he may wake and hear:

“And glide into his secret sleep and dog his feet by day,
For we have died to make the peace the old men live to slay.

“Scavenger birds have watched for us upon the desert plains,
Our bones are bleached in endless snows and washed with mountain rains.

“And we have laid ourselves to sleep in lands we never knew,
Where strangers’ feet went over us and red siroccos blew .

“But we said to one another, deep in our dreaming hearts:
We died to make an end that men may barter death in marts;

“That never again a rich man batten upon his scarlet gold
Nor the cold silks of his women run blood from every fold.

“Our sons ploughing the broken fields where we have moaned and lain,
Shall never hear the rattling drum summoning up the slain

“Summoning up the living men with the seal upon their brows,
And Death behind the trumpeter, beckoning from his house.

“Choked with high words and wrapped in hate and weaponed with a lie,
So we went forth in all the years, helpless to live or die.

“But now they make a peace for us, that the world may have rest,
And the sun storming up the east and shattering down the west.

“Shall rise upon a newer world that has forgot to kill:
For this we fought and died, my brother – who remembers still?

“But now the old men make the peace; busy, with crafty eyes,
They carry stones for the temple and build in cunning wise:

“And fear is in our hollow eyes, and fear eats at the heart,
And plucks us out of our cool graves and thrusts us in the mart.

“And we must walk the city streets and watch, early and late,
Lest that the peace the old men make should be a peace of hate.”

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Jessie Wiseman Gibbs: I sing the soldiers of the coming wars, those that save and heal

September 22, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

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Jessie Wiseman Gibbs
From Peace Sonnets

VI
Ye nations of the earth, have ye not said,
“We will increase our strength with ships and guns”?
Yet now do they consume your little ones,
And while ye think to make your bullets red
In brothers’ blood, in your own house lie dead
Your children; for God chastens so his sons,
Bringing the ill they practice whence it runs
Back to recoil at last on their own head.

But if ye once had known your Father, God,
Ye could not lift the hand against your brother;
And if ye once had felt his chastening rod,
Would leave to Him the vengeance; if ye knew
The mighty fortress He hath given to you
In these, your children, ye would ask no other.

VII
Behold the missionaries of Christ’s cross,
That go before the merchant ventures! These,
More than all ships of war, bring in the peace
Of the world, and what they spend is never loss.
Think, if we gave the heathen but our dross
Of vice and war-craft, how their hordes would seize
Our weapons to despoil us, and appease
With smell of our spilt blood their lustful joss!

Nay, we must give them Christ, or on our head
Their sin shall be, and God unto their strife
Shall give us up to chastisement; our pelf
Shall profit us no more, when we are dead:
For selfishness doth still defeat itself,
And sacrificial love is fount of life.

VIII
I sing the soldiers of the coming wars,
The wars of God and man, of common weal
And individual glory. Not with steel
Nor for destruction, pass their shining corps
Where all our modern tumult sweats and roars;
But girt with faith, love, prayer ,- how e’er they feel
The iron in their own souls – to save and heal,
And Christ leads on, who all to God restores!

These be thy heroes, O my Country! They
Shall wear henceforth thy laurel and thy bay!
Thou shalt not give again the crown of thorns
To Him who is thy Savior, nor the ray
And aureole of glory that adorns
His brow to them that pillage and that slay!

IX
‘Tis not enough, my Land, that thou shouldst cry
To Christ to save, but thou must crown Him King
Ere He can save thee; thou must dare to fling
Thine all on Him and trust Him, live or die,
Ere thou canst find his power, or live thereby.
Behold, how beautiful his feet, that bring
Good news of peace! Behold Him in the spring
Of glorious day, descending from on high!

Hail Him, my Country! Crown Him, whom so long
Men dared deny the crown! Whom God doth crown
In Heaven before the angels, who with song
Acclaim Him King forever, casting down
Their diadems before Him, choosing Him
Before all glory in themselves grown dim!

X
Hail Him! For it is He who left his throne
In glory and came down to earth and men,
To lift them with his own hands up again
Into that heavenly light that was his own
Before the world was! Hail Him, who has known
Our sorrows, shared our burdens, borne our pain,
In his own body – yea, our sins amain
O’ercoming all in his love’s might alone!

Hail Him victorious! Hail Him conqueror
And King forever! Own Him with thy whole
Heart , O my Country, even as the soul
That lives by his great life! Have thou no shame
To speak of Him before the kings that war,
But let the whole earth hear thee praise his name!

Categories: Uncategorized

William Rose Benét: The Red Country

September 21, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

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William Rose Benét
The Red Country

In the red country
The sky flowers
All day.
Strange mechanical birds
With struts of wire and glazed wings
Cross the impassive sky
Which burgeons ever and again
With ephemeral unfolding flowers,
White and yellow and brown,
That spread and dissolve.
And smaller rapid droning birds go by,
And bright metallic bees whose sting is death,

Behind the hills,
Behind the whispering woods whose leaves are falling
Yellow and red to cover the red clay,
Misshapen monsters squat with wide black maws
Gulping smoke and belching flame.
From the mirk reed beds of the age of coal,
Wallowing out of their sleep in the earlier slime,
They are resurrected and stagger forth to slay –
The prehistoric Beasts we thought were dead.
They are blinded with long sleep,
But men with clever weapons
Goad them to fresh pastures.

Beside still waters
They drink of blood and neigh a horrible laughter,
And their ponderous tread shakes happy cities down,
And the thresh of their flail-like tails
Makes acres smoulder and smoke
Blackened of golden harvest.

The Beasts are back,
And men in their spreading shadow,
Inhale the odor of their nauseous breath.
Inebriate with it they fashion other gods
Than the gods of day-dream.
Of iron and steel are little images
Made of the Beasts.
And men rush forth and fling themselves for ritual
Before these gods, before the lumbering Beasts
And some make long obeisance.

Umber and violet flowers of the sky,
The sun, like a blazing Mars, clanks across the blue.
And plucks you, to fashion into a nosegay
To offer Venus, his old-time paramour.
But now she shrinks
And pales Like Cynthia, her more ascetic sister…
Vulcan came to her arms in the grimy garb
Of toil, he smelt of the forge and the racketing work shop,
But not of blood.
And, if she smells these flowers, they bubble ruby blood
That trickles between her fingers.

Yet is a dream flowing over the red country,
Yet is a light growing, for all the black furrows of the red country…
The machines are foe or friend
As the world desires.
The Beasts shall sleep again.
And in that sleep, when the land is twilight-still
And men take thought among the frozen waves of the dead,
The Sowers go forth once more,
Sowers of vision, sowers of the seed
Of peace or war.
Shall it be peace indeed?
Great shadowy figures moving from hill to hill
Of tangled bodies, with rhythmic stride and cowled averted head,
What do you sow with hands funereal –
New savageries imperial,
Unthinking pomps for arrogant, witless men?
Or seed for the people in strong democracy?
What do you see
With your secret eyes, and sow for us, that we must reap again?

Categories: Uncategorized

Arthur Quiller-Couch: Man shall outlast his battles

September 20, 2020 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

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Arthur Quiller-Couch
Upon Eckington Bridge, River Avon

O pastoral heart of England! like a psalm
Of green days telling with a quiet beat –
O wave into the sunset flowing calm!
O tirèd lark descending on the wheat!
Lies it all peace beyond that western fold
Where now the lingering shepherd sees his star
Rise upon Malvern? Paints an Age of Gold
Yon cloud with prophecies of linkèd ease –
Lulling this Land, with hills drawn up like knees,
To drowse beside her implements of war?

Man shall outlast his battles. They have swept
Avon from Naseby Field to Severn Ham;
And Evesham’s dedicated stones have stepp’d
Down to the dust with Montfort’s oriflamme.
Nor the red tear nor the reflected tower
Abides; but yet these eloquent grooves remain,
Worn in the sandstone parapet hour by hour
By labouring bargemen where they shifted ropes.
E’en so shall man turn back from violent hopes
To Adam’s cheer, and toil with spade again.

Ay, and his mother Nature, to whose lap
Like a repentant child at length he hies,
Not in the whirlwind or the thunder-clap
Proclaims her more tremendous mysteries:
But when in winter’s grave, bereft of light,
With still, small voice divinelier whispering
– Lifting the green head of the aconite, –
Feeding with sap of hope the hazel-shoot –
She feels God’s finger active at the root,
Turns in her sleep, and murmurs of the Spring.

Categories: Uncategorized

Mary Putnam Gilmore: Sweet Peace is Here

September 19, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

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Mary Putnam Gilmore
Sweet Peace is Here

Sweet Peace is here,
And some have lifted up their eyes
And met her gentle gaze.
But others, looking forward, say:
In future ages she may come;
We know not when. Far hence it is.
Still more, with downward glance, affirm;
She will not come. The hearts of men,
Their stout and warlike hearts,
Are not abode for such as she.
But they, whose eyes have seen?
They know that Peace is here,
And that the hearts of men
Are her abode by right Divine.
And so they calmly wait
Until the vision come to all.

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Edwin Arnold Brenholtz: The Passion of Peace

September 18, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Edwin Arnold Brenholtz: The Demon, War

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Edwin Arnold Brenholtz
The Passion of Peace

The passion for Peace has preempted my soul.
How can words that work otherwise issue from me!

I recall how Revenge roved abroad in my life;
How the work of the world seemed to sanctify strife;
How the slaughter on battlefields seemed a necessity; –

How I loathed all the years that had yielded to Peace.
For I pictured this Peace as a weakling whose baseness bred cowards; whose miser-insanity stultified souls; whose willess supineness sent manhood to death –
For I fed on the lies War delivered with unction;
I believed;
But I ne’er had beheld in her passion this Power eternal.

I accepted as hers miscalled children of Cowardice.
I surprised Peace (and knew her) with passion unspeakable, passing them by.
I was stirred to my soul, and spake instantly, sternly: “Art thou then not the mother of these; of the vices that riot when War is withholden; of the crimes we accept as thy children, brought forth when the Nations are resting from slaughter, in the years when we yield to soft Pity’s enticements?”

Oh, the passion, impelling, that leaped to her eyes!
Oh, the loathing that looked where that progeny flourished!
Oh, the longing, the love unappeased that pervaded the answer:
“I am virgin; awaiting one day that denies War’s dominion; awaiting to welcome the soul that has never mistaken War’s children and Greed’s as the fruit of my body, my soul’s reproduction.
I am peace; I am virgin; – and waiting the day of espousal.”

Oh, the passion that spoke from the soul I encountered!
Oh, the long years of waiting, to make myself worthy!
For the passion for Peace has preempted my soul!

“Still lives for Earth, which friends so long have trod,
The great hope resting on the truth of God, –
Evil shall cease and Violence pass away,
And the tired world breathe free through a long Sabbath day.”

Whittier

Categories: Uncategorized

Katrina Trask: A dialogue on God and war

September 17, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

Katrina Trask: The Statue of Peace

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Katrina Trask
From In the Vanguard

RECTOR
Good morning, Mr. Greart – Good morning! Glad to see you home again. I hope you are well, Sir – quite well?

MR. GREART
Thank you , Doctor, I am very ill.

THE RECTOR
Ill, Sir? – Ill? – You don’t tell me; I am sorry to hear that. Nothing serious, I hope – nothing serious.

MR. GREART
The most serious thing in civilization – War.

THE RECTOR
Puzzled.
I don’t think I follow you, Sir, I don’t think I follow you.

MR. GREART
This accursed war has made me bilious.

THE RECTOR
Accursed war, Sir? Why, this is God’s holy war.

MR. GREART
Laughing.
That is the kind of God you worship? No wonder the churches are empty!

****

MR. GREART
The last Sunday I was at Church, before I went away, you talked most eloquently about the God
of Battles, and ended with an invocation to the God of Peace; how can a logical God possibly be
a God of Battles and a God of Peace at the same time?

THE RECTOR
Peace after battle, Mr. Greart, Peace after battle.

MR. GREART
That is not Peace, that is merely the cessation of hostilities, merely a negation. Peace is a positive – a great constructive, conclusive, abiding force – an altitude of the soul – the soul of a person or the soul of a nation.

THE RECTOR
My dear Sir, if you read history –

MR. GREART
Interrupting.
I have read history, that’s what’s the matter. I find that all the wars in the world have never stopped war. The clever philosopher, Christ, who had a way of seeing all around a subject, was quite right when He said, “They that take the sword shall perish with the sword” – they always do – it has been the final nemesis, sooner or later, of all warlike nations.

THE RECTOR
In a reproachful and solemn tone.
Our blessed Lord, Who is not a philosopher but Who is “Very God of Very God” said, “I come
not to bring Peace but a sword.”

MR. GREART
A trifle sharply.
I cannot hear Christ’s words so misinterpreted; I admire Him too profoundly.

****
MR. GREART
I can understand a man defending war on pagan grounds, but I protest in the name of Justice against making Christ an apologist for war; he is the Apostle of Peace, and it irritates me to have perfectly manifest meanings twisted to suit the belligerent spirit of humanity. In this instance, at least, which is the one most often quoted, it is quite ridiculous to believe that the word sword is not used as an illustration of separation. There is always a sharp sword of separation dividing two persons of diametrically opposite views of life – dividing you and me, for example.

THE RECTOR
With an assumption of dignity.
I fear we are very definitely divided.

MR. GREART
Goodnaturedly.
Certainly; I believe in Peace; you believe in War; the sword of the spirit separates us completely.

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Louis Untermeyer: Daybreak after war

September 16, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

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Louis Untermeyer
Daybreak

Four years of night and nightmare; years of black
Hate and its murderous attack.
Four years of midnight terrors till the brain,
Beaten in the intolerable campaign,
Saw nothing but a world of driven men
And skies that never could be clean again.
Hot winds that tore the lungs, great gusts
Of rotting madness and forgotten lusts.
Hills draped with death; the beat of terrible wings;
Flowers that smelt of carrion; monstrous things
That crawled on iron bellies over trees
And swarmed in blood…till even the seas
Were one wet putrefaction, and the earth
A violated grave of trampled mirth.
What light there was, was only there to show
Intolerance delivering blow on blow,
Bigotry rampant, honor overborn,
And faith derided with a blast of scorn
This was our daily darkness; we had thought
All freedom worthless and all beauty naught.
The eager, morning-hearted days were gone
When we took joy in small things: In the sun
Tracing a delicate pattern through thick leaves
With its long yellow pencils. Or blue eaves
Frosted with moonlight, and one ruddy star
Ringing against the night, a chime
Like an insistent single rhyme.
Or see the full-blown moon stuck on a spar,
A puff-ball flower on a rigid stalk.
Or think of nothing better than to walk
With one small boy and listen to the war
Of waters pulling at a stubborn shore,
And laugh to see the waves run out of bounds
Like boisterous and shaggy hounds.
Watching the stealthy rollers come alive,
And shake their silver manes and leap and dive.
Or listen with him to the voiceless talk
Of fireflies and daisies; feel the late
Dusk full of unheard music, or vibrate
To a more actual magic; hear the notes
Of birds with sunset shaking on their throats.
Or watch the emerald and olive trees
Turn purple ghosts in dusty distances.
The city’s kindling energy; the sweet
Pastoral of an empty street.
Football and friends; lyrics and daffodils.
The sovereign splendor of the marching hills
These were all ours to choose from and enjoy
Until this vast disease came to destroy
The casual beneficence of life.

But now a thin edge, like a merciful knife,
Pierces the shadows, and a chiselling ray
Cuts the thick folds away.
Murmurs of morning; glad, awakening cries;
Hints of majestic rhythms rise.
Dawn will not be denied. The blackness shakes;
And here a brand and there a beacon breaks
Into the challenge that may soon be hurled
With a new fire for a burned-out world.
A world of wide experiments, of fair
Disputes, desires and tolerance everywhere,
With laughter loose again and time enough
To feel the warm-lipped and cool-fingered love
With kindly passion lifted from the dead;
Where daylight shall be bountifully spread
And darkness but a wide and welcome bed.

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E. P. Marvin: War Disenchanted

September 15, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

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E. P. Marvin
War Disenchanted

War is the business of barbarians. – Napoleon Bonaparte.
I hate war. – U.S. Grant.
War is hell. – W. T. Sherman.

A gallant form is passing by,
The plume bends o’er his lordly brow;
A thousand tongues have raised on high
His song of triumph now.
Young knees are bending round his way,
And age makes bare his locks of gray.

Fair forms have lent their gladdest smiles,
White hands have waved the conqueror on,
And flowers have decked his path the while,
By gentle fingers strewn.
Soft tones have cheered him, and the brow
Of beauty beams uncovered now.

The bard hath waked the song for him,
And poured his wildest numbers forth;
The winecup, sparkling to the brim,
Adds frenzy to the mirth;
And every tongue and every eye
Does homage to the passer by.

The cannon thunder strikes the ear,
And martial strains their witchery lend;
‘Neath battle flag “The Men of Peace”
Their benediction lend
To Pagod things of saber sway,
With fronts of brass and feet of clay.

The gallant steed treads proudly on;
His foot falls firmly now as when
In strife that iron heel went down
Upon the hearts of men;
Unmindful all, mid shouts and cheers,
Of manhood’s blood and woman’s tears.

The warrior’s stormy voice is heard
To lead the charge with wrathful mien;
And brothers join in carnage dread,
Till darkness shrouds the scene,
‘Mid oaths and groans and cries to God,
And garments rolled in vital blood.

Dream they of these? the glad and gay,
That bend around the conqueror’s path,
The horrors of the conflict day,
The gloomy field of death,
The ghastly slain, the severed head,
The mourners weeping o’er the dead?

Dark thoughts and fearful! yet they bring
No terrors to the triumph hour,
Nor stay the reckless worshipping
Of blended crime and power:
The fair of form, the mild of mood
Do honor to the man of blood.

Men – Christians, pause! the air ye breathe
Is poisoned by your idol now;
And will ye turn to him and wreathe
Your chaplets round his brow?
Nay, call his darkest deeds sublime,
And smile assent to giant crime?

Great King of Peace, whom we adore,
Look down with pity from above!
Oh, lift the awful curse of war,
And reign in peace and love!
Oh, come, Lord Jesus, quickly come,
Erect thy Kingdom and thy Throne!

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Jessie Wiseman Gibbs: Speak peace, that thou and all the lands may live, ere thou and they all perish by the sword!

September 14, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

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Jessie Wiseman Gibbs
From Peace Sonnets

I
O my dear Country, thou canst never dare
Deny the Court of Peace! Thou, who art hope
Of the world’s weary nations; ‘neath the slope
Of whose spread wings they seek a sheltering care
Like to the care of God! Thou, who must share
Christ’s saving travail for their sons, who grope
Through toil to thee; must in thy members cope
With all their war, in strength of naught but prayer!

Nay, but thou must be first to own that Court
And set it as a crown upon the brow
Of Christ, the King of Nations; first must thou
Confess his heavenly rule thy last resort,
Even as it is: so shall He judge thy cause
And stablish it in his unfailing laws!

II
Why trust we yet in enginery of war,
O Country of my heart, who have a King
Who has no need of any such a thing?
Who makes us free within, and doth abhor
Aught save the gift of life and freedom, nor
Is willing one should perish? Think we the sting
Of death to ‘scape, with vain imagining
To deal therein , and still his life implore?

Lo, the hour has struck for peace , and we have heard
Christ in our heart speak “Peace!” It is thy hour,
My Country! O shrink not its regnant power,
But stand forth in the strength that Christ doth give
Speak peace, that thou and all the lands may live,
Ere thou and they all perish by the sword!

III
So shalt thou own thy Savior, King, and find
His power; so shall the nations own how great
Thy youth and virtue, that could slough the weight
That crushed the world, and dare be free and kind;
So shall the peace of his untrammelled mind
Rule thine own inward strifes of social hate;
So shalt thou plant that universal state
Wherein his love shall be at last enshrined.

So shalt thou bring again the angels’ song;
So shall the star be seen again in Heaven;
So shall the nations look to it and long
For the salvation to God’s people given;
So shall the Savior promised to all earth,
Through thy pure travail have his modern birth!

IV
Thou shalt not find Him till thou be so great
To give Him to the world: his truth, his peace,
Are known in sharing; evermore increase
From man to man, from loyal state to state;
For they may not be bound, but still must wait
Fulfillment till the last despite shall cease
And all men freely share them. Yet if these
Things seem a mystery, know, before too late:

If states of thine may not lift up the hand
Against thee; if thy striker may not reach
To strike with steel; if tribes that in thee stand
May war no more, but dwell as friend with friend;
Then thou must practice this that thou dost teach
And say among the nations, “War must end!”

V
Lo, now, how Christ doth overcome the world!
Yet we, who bear his name, are feard of it;
Yea, tremble, and conform ourselves to fit
Its will, who should be transformed and unfurled
In power to do his righteousness, who hurled
The planets in their orbits, and who lit
The spark of life within us, infinite,
To blaze when systems are in ashes curled!

But if we dared be free in Him, and say
Among the nations, “He is King indeed,
“And by his truth alone will we be freed!”
There’s not a kindred the blue ocean laves
Would dare to stand before us, more than they
Who went to capture Him with swords and staves!

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Jack London: Some day all men will counsel peace. No man will slay his fellow. All men will plant.

September 13, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Jack London: War

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Jack London
From The Acorn-Planter (1916)

RED CLOUD
He who plants acorns reaps food, and food is life. He who sows war reaps war, and war is death.

****

RED CLOUD
Shaman I am not.
I know not the secret things.
I say the things I know.
When you plant kindness you harvest kindness.
When you plant blood you harvest blood.
He who plants one acorn makes way for life.
He who slays one man slays the planter of a thousand acorns.

****

RED CLOUD
There will come a day when men will not slay men and when all men will be brothers. And in
that day all men will plant acorns.

****

RED CLOUD
Ever was I for peace, but in war I did not command. Ever I sought the secrets of the growing
things, the times and seasons for planting. Ever I planted acorns, making two black oak trees
grow where one grew before. And now all is ended. Oh my black oak acorns! My black oak acorns! Who will plant them now?

****

RED CLOUD
Ever I counseled peace and planting.

SUN MAN
Some day all men will counsel peace. No man will slay his fellow. All men will plant.

****

SUN MEN
Our brothers follow on the trail we blaze.
Where howled the wolf and ached the naked plain
Spring bounteous harvests at our brothers’ hands;
In place of war’s alarums, peaceful days;
Above the warrior’s grave the golden grain
Turns deserts grim and stark to laughing lands.

****

RED CLOUD
Good tidings! Good tidings
To the sons of men!
Good tidings! Good tidings!
War is dead!

(Light begins to suffuse the hillside, revealing RED CLOUD far up the hillside in a commanding position on an out-jut of rock.)

Lo, the New Day dawns,
The day of brotherhood,
The day when all men
Shall be kind to all men,
And all men shall be sowers of life.

(From every side a burst of voices.)

Hail to Red Cloud!
The Acorn-Planter!
The Life-Maker!
Hail! All hail!
The New Day dawns,
The day of brotherhood,
The day of man.

(A band of WARRIORS appears on hillside.)

WARRIORS
Hail, Red Cloud!
Mightier than all fighting men!
The slayer of War!
We are not sad.
Our eyes were blinded.
We did not know one acorn planted
Was mightier than an hundred fighting men.
We are not sad.
Our red work was when
The world was young and wild.
The world has grown wise.
No man slays his brother.
Our work is done.
In the light of the new day are we glad.

(A band of PIONEERS and SEA EXPLORERS appears.)

PIONEERS and SEA EXPLORERS
Hail, Red Cloud!
The first planter!
The Acorn-Planter!
We sang that War would die,
The anarch of our wild and wayward past.
We sang our brothers would come after,
Turning desert into garden,
Sowing friendship, and not hatred,
Planting seeds instead of dead men,
Growing men to manhood in the sun.

****
(A band of HUSBANDMEN appear, bearing fruit and sheaves of grain and corn.)

HUSBANDMEN
Hail, Red Cloud!
The first planter!
The Acorn-Planter!
The harvests no more are red, but golden,
We are thy children.
We plant for increase,
Increase of wheat and corn,
Of fruit and flower,
Of sheep and kine,
Of love and lovers;
Rich are our harvests
And many are our lovers.

RED CLOUD
Death is a stench in the nostrils,
Life is beauty and joy.
The planters are ever brothers.
Never are the warriors brothers;
Their ways are set apart,
Their hands raised each against each.
The planters’ ways are the one way.
Ever they plant for life,
For life more abundant,
For beauty of head and hand,
For the voices of children playing,
And the laughter of maids in the twilight
And the lover’s song in the gloom.

ALL VOICES
Hail, Red Cloud!
The first planter!
The Acorn-Planter!
The maker of life!
Hail! All hail!
The New Day dawns,
The day of brotherhood,
The day of man!

 

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Gretchen Warren: Dying Peace

September 12, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

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Gretchen Warren
Dying Peace

A faithful sentinel had we,
My love and I, for at our door
Peace stood and sang a magic song
Of blessedness, of deathless lore.

And with her song for lullaby
I rocked a weeping babe to rest,
While past the open lattice flew
Dark evening swallows home to nest.

But terribly that song has ceased
And she lies martyred on the plain,
Where brave men, shuddering, fight and fall
That dying Peace may rise again.

And now to bind her bleeding wounds
My love runs out at dawn of day,
And many another goes with him
To that grim field, where, torn away

From hearth and home and sleeping child,
White Peace lies ghastly, stained with red;
Through my lone window, with dimmed eyes
I see them lift her stricken head.

But now with twilight breaks a cry
Of wilder battle from the west,
And in the dusk my love sinks dead,
His face upon her ebbing breast.

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Mozi: War, Right or Wrong

September 11, 2020 Leave a comment

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

Mozi (Mei Ti, Micius)
War, Right or Wrong
Translated by E. H. Hou

(In the fifth and sixth centuries B. C. there were many philosophers and schools in China. Mei Ti was one of the greatest of them. At that time even Confucius could not overshadow him. His well-know “Love All” doctrine was later severely attacked by Mencius, the great follower of Confucius. Not only his philosophy, but also his literary ability, have been greatly admired by his own people. The following is a translation of one of his short essays. By his use of the title “gentlemen under the heaven,” he means the philosophers of his time. – Translator.)

Here is a man going into the garden or orchard of some one else. He steals the peaches and prunes from it. All those who hear of this will condemn him, and the authorities will arrest and fine him. Why? Because he does harm to others and benefits himself thereby.

Here is another man stealing other people’s dogs, chickens, and hogs. He is worse than the first man. Why? Because the more harm to others he does, the more wicked he is and the greater the crime is.

Here is a third who enters through his neighbor’s fences and stables, stealing the cattle and horses. He is considered worse and more heartless than the second man. Why? Because he has done more harm to his neighbor, so his crime is still greater.

Furthermore, the man who murders the innocent neighbor and gets his victim’s fur coat and sword, is worse than the third. Why? Because he has done greater harm, and so he is a more wicked man.

At this time, all the gentlemen under the heaven know that he is doing wrong, and they all condemn him.

Now, then, the greatest of these gentlemen is to attack a neighboring country. Not only does nobody see that this should be condemned, but, on the contrary, every one praises it, sanctions it, and calls it right. Does the world know the difference between right and wrong?

It is considered wrong to murder one man, and there is capital punishment for this crime. Then the crime of killing ten men is ten times as bad as that of killing one, and the punishment should be also ten times as much. The crime of murdering one hundred persons is one hundred times as bad, and the punishment should be also one hundred times as much. At this time, in this case, every gentleman under the heaven knows how to condemn it, and calls it wrong or crime.

But the greatest crime is to invade another country, killing many men. Nobody condemns it, but praises it. Because no one knows it is wrong to go to attack an other nation, they write about their glorious victory in order to let the future generations read it. If they could discover the wickedness of war, what is the pleasure of writing such a record of it?

It is just like a man who calls a little black black, and calls much black white. He cannot tell black
from white. It is bitter when little is tasted. He calls it sweet when much bitterness is tasted. So he cannot tell bitter from sweet. Little wrong is wrong; everybody condemns it. But the greatest wrong, that of attacking another country, is not only left uncondemned, but is honored and praised. It shows that the world cannot tell right from wrong. This is the way in which the so-called gentle men under the heaven teach morality and ethics.

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