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Richard Le Gallienne: The Illusion of War

April 27, 2011


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

British writers on peace and war

American writers on peace and against war

Richard Le Gallienne: Selections on war


Richard Le Gallienne
The Illusion of War (1915)

I abhor,
And yet how sweet
The sound along the marching street
Of drum and fife, and I forget
Wet eyes of widows, and forget
Broken old mothers, and the whole
Dark butchery without a soul.

Without a soul – save this bright drink
Of heady music, sweet as hell;
And even my peace-abiding feet
Go marching with the marching street,
For yonder, yonder goes the fife,
And what care I for human life!
The tears fill my astonished eyes
And my full heart is like to break,
And yet ’tis all embannered lies,
A dream those little drummers make.

O it is wickedness to clothe
Yon hideous grinning thing that stalks
Hidden in music, like a queen
That in a garden of glory walks,
Till good men love the thing they loathe.
Art, thou hast many infamies,
But not an infamy like this;
O snap the fife and still the drum,
And show the monster as she is.

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