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Sarah Williams: Groaning for him they slew


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

British writers on peace and war


Sarah Williams

From “Honorably Discharged”

Many a field has been foughten
More for the fight’s own sake,
Than for the vict’ry gained, or a flag unstained.
Or for a cause at stake.

And I have seen, in the battle,
Men who were staunch and true,
Yet who turned aside when the foeman died,
Groaning for him they slew.

And, as I sit here and ponder.
Living the whole again,
I have sometimes thought.
Which is dearest bought
Victor’s or vanquished’s pain?


From Snowdon to Vesuvius

But these men
They use not even this, their power of love;
And, after all these centuries of light,
Have still no rule of right for questions vext.
Save springing at each other’s throats like dogs.
Nay, I have known them meaner than the dogs.
Snarling and snarling, daring not to fight –
Whole nations, in their puny arrogance.
Vomiting evil words across the seas.
Until the air grew sulphurous with spite,
And cannon came to clear it.

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