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Sidney Lanier: War by other means

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

American writers on peace and against war

Sidney Lanier: Selections on war

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Sidney Lanier
From The Symphony (1875)  

“And oh, if men might some time see
How piteous-false the poor decree
That trade no more than trade must be!
Does business mean, `Die, you – live, I?’
Then `Trade is trade’ but sings a lie:
‘Tis only war grown miserly.
If business is battle, name it so:
War-crimes less will shame it so,
And widows less will blame it so.
Alas, for the poor to have some part
In yon sweet living lands of Art,
Makes problem not for head, but heart.
Vainly might Plato’s brain revolve it:
Plainly the heart of a child could solve it.”

“Later, a sweet Voice `Love thy neighbor’ said;
Then first the bounds of neighborhood outspread
Beyond all confines of old ethnic dread.

`’All men are neighbors,’ so the sweet Voice said.
So, when man’s arms had circled all man’s race,
The liberal compass of his warm embrace
Stretched bigger yet in the dark bounds of space;
With hands a-grope he felt smooth Nature’s grace,
Drew her to breast and kissed her sweetheart face…”

“And yet shall Love himself be heard,
Though long deferred, though long deferred:
O’er the modern waste a dove hath whirred:
Music is Love in search of a word.”

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Felicity Arbuthnot
    January 4, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    Perfection. Being a sad, naive soul, I have always held that “love thy neighbour”, was not just the couple at No 23, but they global neighbour. I did not know it had been written so beautifully. Thank you, as ever, tireless Sir – and with hopes for a global, neighbour loving, New Year. So far, it’s not shaping up too hopefully.

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