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Horace Smith: Manufactured to machines for killing human creatures

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

British writers on peace and war

Horace Smith: Selections on peace and war

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Horace Smith
From Projects and Companies

Better our superflux to waste
On peaceful schemes, howe’er misplaced.
Than war and its abuses…

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From Third Poetical Epistle

Another class there was, in trappings gay,
Fine colours – laces – feathers – ribbons – wreaths,
Who let themselves for hire, to kill and slay,
For which they carried earring knives in sheaths;
Of shoulder-knots, and liveried array,
Prouder than any popinjay that breathes;
And what was strange, the women seemed to love
These men-destroyers other men above.

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From Charade (Barrack)

My Third is fashion’d to enfold
Strange implements of war. – Behold
Those frames with human features;
By time and artificial means
They’re manufactured to machines
For killing human creatures.
Obedient moves – east, west, north, south,
Up to the breach, or cannon’s mouth:
Each automatic figure, –
‘Gainst friend or foe, whate’er the cause.
With equal nonchalance he draws
His death dispensing-trigger.
Enslaved alike in frame and mind.
Life’s object for its means resign’d,
What gains th’unlucky varlet?
Dying, he sleeps on honours couch,
And living, flaunts with empty pouch.
In outward gold and scarlet.
Never were muscles, bones, and will.
By such self-sacrificing skill,
Made neuter, passive, active.
Machine! thou’rt mechanism’s pride.
But never was its art applied
To purpose less attractive!

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