Charles Yale Harrison: War is a hell that no god, however cruel, would fashion for his most deadly enemies
Charles Yale Harrison
From Generals Die In Bed (1928)
We crowd closer to the flickering candle.
Upstairs the trench rings with a gigantic crack as each shell lands. An insane god is pounding it with Cyclopean fists, madly, incessantly.
We sit like prehistoric men within the ring of flickering light which the candle casts. We look at each other silently.
A shell shatters itself to fragments near the entrance of the dugout.
The candle is snuffed out by the concussion.
We are in complete darkness.
What god is there as mighty as the fury of a bombardment! More terrible than lightning, more cruel, more calculating than an earthquake!
How will we ever be able to go back to peaceful ways again and hear pallid preachers whimper of their puny little gods who can only torment sinners with sulphur, we have seen a hell that no god, however cruel, would fashion for his most deadly enemies!
Yes, all of us have prayed during the maniac frenzy of a bombardment.
Who can live through the terror-laden minutes of drumfire and not feel his reason slipping, his manhood dissolving?
Selfish, fear-stricken prayers – prayers for safety, prayers for life, prayers for air, for salvation from the death of being buried alive…
Back home they are praying, too – praying for victory – and that means that we must lie hear and rot and tremble forever…