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Thomas Hardy: As war-waste classed


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

British writers on peace and war

Thomas Hardy: Selections on war


Thomas Hardy
Horses Aboard

Horses in horsecloths stand in a row
On board the huge ship that at last lets go:
Whither are they sailing? They do not know,
Nor what for, nor how. –
They are horses of war,
And are going to where there is fighting afar;
But they gaze through their eye-holes unwitting they are,
And that in some wilderness, gaunt and ghast,
Their bones will bleach ere a year has passed,
And the item be as ‘war-waste’ classed. –
And when the band booms, and the folk say ‘Good-bye!’
And the shore slides astern, they appear wrenched awry
From the scheme Nature planned for them, – wondering why.


A Parting Scene

The two pale women cried,
But the man seemed to suffer more,
Which he strove hard to hide.
They stayed in the waiting-room, behind the door,
Till startled by the entering engine-roar,
As if they could not bear to have unfurled
Their misery to the eyes of all the world.

A soldier and his young wife
Were the couple; his mother the third,
Who had seen the seams of life.
He was sailing for the East I later heard.
– They kissed long, but they did not speak a word;
Then, strained, he went. To the elder the wife in tears
“Too long; too long!” burst out. (‘Twas for five years.)

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