Home > Uncategorized > Alfred Noyes: Out of the obscene seas of slaughter

Alfred Noyes: Out of the obscene seas of slaughter

====

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

Alfred Noyes: Selections on war

====

Alfred Noyes
From The Wine Press: A Tale of War (1913)

imagesCAK5X3GN

Dedication
(To those who believe that Peace is the corrupter 
of nations) 

Peace? When have we prayed for peace? 
Over us burns a star 
Bright, beautiful, red for strife! 
Yours are only the drum and the fife 
And the golden braid and the surface of life. 
Ours is the white-hot war. 

II

Peace? When have we prayed for peace? 
Ours are the weapons of men. 
Time changes the face of the world. 
Your swords are rust! Your flags are furled 
And ours are the unseen legions hurled 
Up to the heights again. 

III

Peace? When have we prayed for peace? 
Is there no wrong to right? 
Wrong crying to God on high 
Here where the weak and the helpless die, 
And the homeless hordes of the City go by, 
The ranks are rallied to-night. 

IV 

Peace? When have we prayed for peace? 
Are ye so dazed with words? 
Earth, heaven, shall pass away 
Ere for your passionless peace we pray. 
Are ye deaf to the trumpets that call us to-day, 
Blind to the blazing swords? 

Prelude

I

Sandalphon, whose white wings to heaven up-bear 
The weight of human prayer, 
Stood silent in the still eternal light 
Of God, one dreadful night. 
His wings were clogged with blood, and foul with mire, 
His body seared with fire. 
“Hast thou no word for Me?” the Master said. 
The angel sank his head. 

II

“Word from the nations of the East and West,” 
He moaned, “that blood is best; 
The patriot prayers of either half of earth 
Hear thou, and judge their worth. 
Out of the obscene seas of slaughter, hear 
First, the first nation’s prayer: 
‘0 God, deliver Thy people. Let Thy sword 
Destroy our enemies, Lord.’ 

III 

“Pure as the first, as passionate in trust 
That their own cause is just, 
Puppets as fond in those dark hands of greed, 
As fervent in their creed, 
As blindly moved, as utterly betrayed. 
As urgent for thine aid, 
Out of the obscene seas of slaughter, hear 
The second nation’s prayer: 
‘0 God, deliver Thy people. Let Thy sword 
Destroy our enemies, Lord’
 

IV 

“Over their slaughtered children, one great cry 
From either enemy; 
From either host, thigh-deep in filth and shame. 
One prayer, one and the same; 
With Thee, with Thee, Lord God of Sabaoth, 
It rests to answer both. 
Out of the obscene seas of slaughter, hear, 
From East and West one prayer: 
‘0 God, deliver Thy people. Let Thy sword 
Destroy our enemies, Lord.'” 

V

Then, on the cross of His creative pain, 
God bowed His head again. 
Then East and West, over all seas and lands, 
Out-stretched His pierced hands. 
Then, down in hell, they chuckled, “West and East, 
Each holds one hand, at least…” 
“And yet,” Sandalphon whispered, “men deny
The eternal Calvary.” 

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: