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Herman Melville: Trophies of Peace


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

American writers on peace and against war

Herman Melville: War-pits and rattraps. Soldier sold to the army as Faust sold himself to the devil.


Herman Melville
Trophies of Peace
Illinois in 1840



Files on files of Prairie Maize:
On hosts of spears the morning plays!
Aloft the rustling streamers show:
The floss embrowned is rich below.

When Asia scarfed in silks came on
Against the Greeks at Marathon,
Did each plume and pennon dance
Sun’lit thus on helm and lance
Mindless of War’s sickle so?

For them, a tassled dance of death:
For these – the reapers reap them low.
Reap them low, and stack the plain
With Ceres’ trophies, golden grain.

Such monuments, and only such,
O Prairie! termless yield,
Though trooper Mars disdainful flout
Nor Annals fame the field.

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