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León Bloy: The Sword

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

León Bloy
From León Bloy devant les Cochons (1894)
Translated by John Coleman

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The lament of the sword. The first time the Spirit of Sabaoth spoke about me, it was to keep men from forgetting that I had been seen all aflame on the threshold of the lost Eden.

***

At once I became War, and my fearful Name everywhere became the sign of Majesty.

I appeared as the sublime instrument of Providential blood-letting and, in my wonderful unawareness as the Elect of Fate, I espoused through the centuries every human feeling capable of speeding Fate on.

Anger, Love, Enthusiasm, Greed, Fanaticism and Insanity I served in so perfect a fashion that the history books have been afraid to tell the whole story.

During six thousand years I have made myself drunk, at all points of the globe, on massacre and throat-slitting.

***

I have killed old men who were like palaces of Suffering. I have cut off the breasts of women who were like light, and I have run little children through who looked at me with eyes of moribund lions.

Daily have I galloped on the pale Horse along the avenue of cypresses “from the womb to the grave,” and I have made a fountain of blood out of every son of man within my reach.

***

The world then was in ecstasy over my beauty. Christian lads dreamt of me. I was given the last kiss of dying monarchs, conquerors latticed in steel knelt with their eyes on me and whole continents were made to run with blood at the prayer I inspired.

When enthusiasm for the Cross had died away, I condescended to become the badge of what men called Honor, and, in this lowered state, I still appeared sufficiently magnificent for the whole of Europe one day to throw itself at the feet of a single Master who had placed me in the monstrance of his heart.

Most certainly he did not pray, this Emperor of Death, but all the same I strewed about him the ecumenical prayer of Sacrifice and Devotion – the dreadful red prayer that bellows forth in the slaughterhouses of nations.

Ah! it was not so splendid as the past! but who will say how beautiful it was? I know something about it, I, the Sword, of whom it is written that I shall devour everything at the end of ends!

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