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Archive for March, 2012

Ernst Toller: Corpses In The Woods

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

Ernst Toller
Corpses In The Woods
Translated by E. Ellis Roberts

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A dung heap of rotting corpses:
Glazed eyes, bloodshot,
Brains split, guts spewed out
The air poisoned by the stink of corpses
A single awful cry of madness.

Oh, women in France,
Women of Germany
Regard your menfolk!
They fumble with torn hands
For the swollen bodies of their enemies,
Gestures, stiff in death, become the touch of brotherhood,
Yes, they embrace each other,
Oh, horrible embrace!

I see and see and am struck dumb
Am I a beast, a murderous dog?
Men violated
Murdered.

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William Blake: O for a voice like thunder, and a tongue to drown the throat of war!

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

William Blake: Selections on war and peace

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William Blake
Prologue, Intended for a dramatic piece of King Edward the Fourth (1796)

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O for a voice like thunder, and a tongue
To drown the throat of war! When the senses
Are shaken, and the soul is driven to madness,
Who can stand? When the souls of the oppressèd
Fight in the troubled air that rages, who can stand?
When the whirlwind of fury comes from the
Throne of God, when the frowns of his countenance
Drive the nations together, who can stand?
When Sin claps his broad wings over the battle,
And sails rejoicing in the flood of Death;
When souls are torn to everlasting fire,
And fiends of Hell rejoice upon the slain,
O who can stand? O who hath causèd this?
O who can answer at the throne of God?
The Kings and Nobles of the Land have done it!
Hear it not, Heaven, thy Ministers have done it!

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Herbert Read: Bombing Casualties

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

Herbert Read: The Happy Warrior

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Herbert Read
Bombing Casualties: Spain

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Dolls’ faces are rosier but these were children
their eyes not glass but gleaming gristle
dark lenses in whose quick silvery glances
the sunlight quivered. These blenched lips
were warm once and bright with blood
but blood
held in a moist blob of flesh
not spilt and spatter’d in tousled hair.

In these shadowy tresses
red petals did not always
thus clot and blacken to a scar.

These are dead faces:
wasps’ nests are not more wanly waxen
wood embers not so greyly ashen.

They are laid out in ranks
like paper lanterns that have fallen
after a night of riot
extinct in the dry morning air.

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Robert Browning: They sent a million fighters forth South and North

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

Robert Browning: Selections on peace and war

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Robert Browning
From Love Among the Ruins (1855)

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Where the quiet-coloured end of evening smiles
Miles and miles
On the solitary pastures where our sheep
Half-asleep
Tinkle homeward thro’ the twilight, stray or stop
As they crop –
Was the site once of a city great and gay,
(So they say)
Of our country’s very capital, its prince
Ages since
Held his court in, gathered councils, wielding far
Peace or war.

Now, – the country does not even boast a tree,
As you see,
To distinguish slopes of verdure, certain rills
From the hills
Intersect and give a name to, (else they run
Into one)
Where the domed and daring palace shot its spires
Up like fires
O’er the hundred-gated circuit of a wall
Bounding all,
Made of marble, men might march on nor be prest
Twelve abreast.

And such plenty and perfection, see, of grass
Never was!
Such a carpet as, this summer-time, o’er-spreads
And embeds
Every vestige of the city, guessed alone,
Stock or stone –
Where a multitude of men breathed joy and woe
Long ago;
Lust of glory pricked their hearts up, dread of shame
Struck them tame;
And that glory and that shame alike, the gold
Bought and sold.

Now, – the single little turret that remains
On the plains,
By the caper overrooted, by the gourd
Overscored,
While the patching houseleek’s head of blossom winks
Through the chinks –
Marks the basement whence a tower in ancient time
Sprang sublime,
And a burning ring, all round, the chariots traced
As they raced,
And the monarch and his minions and his dames
Viewed the games.

….

In one year they sent a million fighters forth
South and North,
And they built their gods a brazen pillar high
As the sky
Yet reserved a thousand chariots in full force –
Gold, of course.
O heart! oh blood that freezes, blood that burns!
Earth’s returns
For whole centuries of folly, noise and sin!
Shut them in,
With their triumphs and their glories and the rest!
Love is best.

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Victor Domingo Silva: Cain, the fratricide

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

Victor Domingo Silva
Cain
Translated by Alice Stone Blackwell

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Cain brandishes the blood-stained weapon still
That slew his brother in the days of old.
He goes no longer lashed by raging storms,
Nor feels remorse; grown callous now and bold,
He does not even hear his victim’s moans, –
He shuts his crime off with a wall of gold.

And yet how plain, how easy were the cure!
The blood and tears with which the world is rife
Will cease when some day we shall comprehend
That union is omnipotent in strife.
Nothing can our united force withstand, –
Union from death itself can pluck forth life!

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Cain

Cain, el fratricida, blande aún enla mano
la quijada sangrienta con que mató a su hermano.

Cain, que ya no marcha contra los elementos,
no siente ya el azote de los remordimientos.

Cain, que ya no escucha de su víctimas el lloro,
¡puso entre él y su crimen una muralla de oro!

¡Y pensar que es es tan fácil el remedio! Que tanto
dolor, y tanta angustia; que tanta sangre y llanto,
pueden ser suprimidos, si una día comprendemos
que nada hay imposible para la fuerza unida,
que aunde las misma muerte la unión arranca vida.

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Byron: War did glut himself again, all earth was but one thought – and that was death

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

Byron: Selections on war

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George Gordon Byron
Darkness (1816)

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…War, which for a moment was no more,
Did glut himself again;–a meal was bought
With blood, and each sate sullenly apart
Gorging himself in gloom: no love was left;
All earth was but one thought – and that was death

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I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguish’d, and the stars
Did wander darkling in the eternal space,
Rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
Swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came and went – and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread
Of this their desolation; and all hearts
Were chill’d into a selfish prayer for light:
And they did live by watchfires – and the thrones,
The palaces of crowned kings – the huts,
The habitations of all things which dwell,
Were burnt for beacons; cities were consumed,
And men were gathered round their blazing homes
To look once more into each other’s face;
Happy were those who dwelt within the eye
Of the volcanos, and their mountain-torch:
A fearful hope was all the world contain’d;
Forests were set on fire – but hour by hour
They fell and faded – and the crackling trunks
Extinguish’d with a crash – and all was black.
The brows of men by the despairing light
Wore an unearthly aspect, as by fits
The flashes fell upon them; some lay down
And hid their eyes and wept; and some did rest
Their chins upon their clenched hands, and smiled;
And others hurried to and fro, and fed
Their funeral piles with fuel, and looked up
With mad disquietude on the dull sky,
The pall of a past world; and then again
With curses cast them down upon the dust,
And gnash’d their teeth and howl’d: the wild birds shriek’d,
And, terrified, did flutter on the ground,
And flap their useless wings; the wildest brutes
Came tame and tremulous; and vipers crawl’d
And twined themselves among the multitude,
Hissing, but stingless – they were slain for food.
And War, which for a moment was no more,
Did glut himself again; – a meal was bought
With blood, and each sate sullenly apart
Gorging himself in gloom: no love was left;
All earth was but one thought – and that was death,
Immediate and inglorious; and the pang
Of famine fed upon all entrails – men
Died, and their bones were tombless as their flesh;
The meagre by the meagre were devoured,
Even dogs assail’d their masters, all save one,
And he was faithful to a corse, and kept
The birds and beasts and famish’d men at bay,
Till hunger clung them, or the dropping dead
Lured their lank jaws; himself sought out no food,
But with a piteous and perpetual moan,
And a quick desolate cry, licking the hand
Which answered not with a caress – he died.
The crowd was famish’d by degrees; but two
Of an enormous city did survive,
And they were enemies: they met beside
The dying embers of an altar-place
Where had been heap’d a mass of holy things
For an unholy usage; they raked up,
And shivering scraped with their cold skeleton hands
The feeble ashes, and their feeble breath
Blew for a little life, and made a flame
Which was a mockery; then they lifted up
Their eyes as it grew lighter, and beheld
Each other’s aspects – saw, and shriek’d, and died –
Even of their mutual hideousness they died,
Unknowing who he was upon whose brow
Famine had written Fiend. The world was void,
The populous and the powerful – was a lump,
Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, lifeless–
A lump of death – a chaos of hard clay.
The rivers, lakes, and ocean all stood still,
And nothing stirred within their silent depths;
Ships sailorless lay rotting on the sea,
And their masts fell down piecemeal: as they dropp’d
They slept on the abyss without a surge –
The waves were dead; the tides were in their grave,
The moon their mistress had expir’d before;
The winds were withered in the stagnant air,
And the clouds perish’d; Darkness had no need
Of aid from them – She was the Universe.

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Chateaubriand: Would-be master of the world who knew only how to destroy

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

François-René de Chateaubriand
From Mémoires d’Outre-Tombe (1848-1850)
Translated by Robert Balkick

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Napoleon inherited the old French monarchy as the centuries and an uninterrupted succession of great men had made it, as the majesty of Louis XIV and the alliances of Louis XV had left it, and as the Republic had enlarged it. He seated himself on that magnificent throne, stretched out his arms, seized hold of the nations, and gathered them around him; but he lost Europe as speedily as he had won it, and twice he brought the Allies to Paris in spite of the marvels of his military intelligence. He had the world under his feet, and all that he got out of it was a prison for himself, exile for his family, and the loss of all his conquests together with a portion of the old French territory.

In his alliance, he enchained the other governments only with concessions of territory, whose boundaries he would soon start altering, constantly showing a tendency to take back what he had given, and always making his supremacy felt; in his invasions, he reorganized nothing, Italy excepted. Instead of stopping at every step to raise up again behind him, in another form, what he had overthrown, he did not halt his progress through ruins: he went so fast that he scarcely had time to breathe as he passed by. If, by a sort of Treaty of Westphalia, he had settled and assured the existence of the States in Germany, Prussia and Poland, then on his first retrograde march he could have fallen back on contented populations and found shelter among them. But his poetic edifice of victories, lacking a foundation and suspended in mid-air only by his genius, fell when his genius fell. The Macedonian built empires as he ran: Bonaparte as he ran knew only how to destroy; his sole aim was to be master of the world, without troubling his head about ways of preserving it.

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Albert Camus: Where war lives. The reign of beasts has begun.

March 13, 2012 2 comments

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

Albert Camus
From the Notebooks
Translated by Philip Thody

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September 7, 1939

We used to wonder where war lived, what it was that made it so vile. And now we realize that we know where it lives, that it is inside ourselves. For most people, it’s the embarrassment, the need to make a choice, the choice which makes them go but feel remorse for not having been brave enough to stay at home, or which makes them stay at home but regret that they can’t share the way the others are going to die.

It’s there, that’s where it really is, and we were looking for in it the blue sky and the world’s indifference. It is in this terrible loneliness both of the combatants and of the noncombatants, in this humiliated despair that we all feel, in the baseness that we feel growing in our faces as the days go by. The reign of beasts has begun.

The hatred and the violence that you can already feel rising up in people. Nothing pure left in them. Nothing unique. They think together. You meet only beasts, bestial European faces. The world makes us feel sick, like this universal wave of cowardice, this mockery of courage, this parody of greatness, and this withering away of honor.

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Karl Kraus: The Warmakers

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

Karl Kraus: Selections on war

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Karl Kraus
Translated by Karl F. Ross

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The Warmakers

They spent their lives in laughter and play
while ours were put on the line.
They got themselves drunk with blood in the day
and chased it at night with wine.

They feasted and threw their weight about,
considering boredom a crime;
and when their supply of people ran out,
they turned to killing time.

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The Aviator

Destroying an arsenal would be fun,
but what does he hit? A baby.
Eventually he would hit a gun
if he aimed at a nursery. Maybe.

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War Correspondents

What? There is war? We get the news from those
who’re still their abject selves as they report
to us the mood in which they watched the war?
A war horse would consider it beneath
its dignity to kick that creep aside
with its left hind hoof, yet the men on top
receive him, answer meekly what he asks,
and even wine and dine him at their own table
the scum? What? Was what happened not enough
to overcome the enemy within?
He presses to the front? Wins credit for the press?
Presents the war to us, and puts his presence
before the war? He lives, won’t perish, doesn’t serve?
No base camp is set up to drill the base ones?
Is this a war? It looks to me like peace.
The goods one go. The bad ones need not fight.
We cannot let them die, for they can write.

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Nazim Hikmet: The Little Girl

March 6, 2012 2 comments

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

Nazim Hikmet: Sad kind of freedom, free to be an American air base

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Nazim Hikmet
The Little Girl (1955)
Translator unidentified

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It is me knocking at your door
At how many doors I’ve been
But no one can see me
Since the dead are invisible

I died at Hiroshima
That was ten years ago
I am a girl of seven
Dead children do not grow

First my hair caught fire
Then my eyes burnt out
I became a handful of ashes
blown away by the wind

I don’t wish anything for myself
For a child who is burnt to cinders
Cannot even eat sweets

I’m knocking at your doors
Aunts and uncles, to get your signatures
So that never again children will burn
And so they can eat sweets

Kiz Çocugu

Kapıları çalan benim
Kapıları birer birer
Gözünüze görünemem
Göze görünmez ölüler

Hiroşima’da öleli
Oluyor bir on yıl kadar
Yedi yaşında bir kızım
Büyümez ölü çocuklar

Saçlarım tutuştu önce
Gözlerim yandı kavruldu
Bir avuç kül oluverdim
külüm havaya savruldu

Benim sizden kendim için hiçbir şey istediğim yok
Şeker bile yiyemez ki, kâat gibi yanan çocuk

Çalıyorum kapınızı…
Teyze, Amca, bir imza ver…
Çocuklar öldürülmesin
Şeker de yiyebilsinler

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Video interview on Western regime change strategy in Syria

RT
February 27, 2012

Sanctioned Reforms
Interview with Rick Rozoff of Stop NATO

VIDEO

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