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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


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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