Home > Uncategorized > Louise Morgan Sill: I am the Hell-god, War!

Louise Morgan Sill: I am the Hell-god, War!


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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war


Louise Morgan Sill
The Hell-God

I am the Hell-god, War!
When I go forth from the dim caves of Hell
I mask, that none may know me, and I wear
A brow of Honour, with deep eyes of Faith,
A mouth of Valour, and a patriot’s smile.
Thus go I forth, the Hell-god, War.

But deeper writhe the serpents in their pits
As though with silent laughter, and the spears
Of new-roused demons flicker in the gloom.

I travel to my place, and lo, the mask
Falls from me, and men see me as I am –
Then in my blood boils the demoniac rage
Of my true being. Men who dare my power –

Though they be what their fellows deem the highest
Of all earth’s children, though they be as fair
As were their mothers, though they be as loved
As angels in high Heaven, yet I dash them,
Puppets, to earth, and grind their horrorful eyes
Into the mud with my twice-cloven heel.
Women I soil, and torture with such deeds
As men with horrid mouthings dare not name.
Old men I strangle, and old women – faugh!
Into the ditch they fall to smother there
Beneath dead horses, or dead men, or what
Of death is chancing by. Their homes I burn;
Their guerdon – many a hungry day was spent,
Toil-sweating days, to hoard those foolish coins –
I take them, as I laugh and laugh again.
And when there’s death enough, I call my friends
The vultures, and they make a merry feast.

Then on I go into the homes of these,
The dead pawns of my game, and in the hearts
Of fathers, mothers, children, aye, and wives –
Deep, deep in wives – I drive the blood-red swords
The dead men fought with – not to give them death,
But fill their veins with agony, alive.
Some weep, some moan, some sink in hopeless woe,
Old heads bow low, and younger heads turn grey.
The game is rich and fiery – it passes,
But this long aftermath of gaunt despair
Yields me good profit, fills my heart with joy,
My mouth with laughter. Ho. oho, oho!
I am the Hell-god, War!

Then I go home to Hell, wherein one night,
One murky, sullen night, I was engendered,
My father the Arch-fiend, and my dark mother
As foul a witch as ever murdered souls.
They taught me from my birth this game of War.
A pretty game, that set my temper hot
And stormed my sense with blood-lust. Many cycles
Have passed while men have striven hard to check
My noble play, and evermore have failed.
The nether gods are with me, and their power
Works for my ends. For what could be more worthy
Of godly sport than this same game of War?
What finer deed than murder? What more great
Than swift destruction of a humble home,
Crushing of hope, starving of fighting men,
The maiming of the strong, or sudden, strange
And horrible disappearance of a man
Blown into formless atoms? What more rare
Than mothers felled and bound, that I may feed
Their butchered children to them – as they eat
Their reason bursts and goes. Oh, ’tis a game
Only the nether gods can look upon
And smile, for theirs must be a rough-hewn sport.

And when my little pawns, men, prate of peace
I laugh, and all my demons laugh again,
For well we know their weakness, well we know
Their greed, their egotism and their fear –
Fear of the little pawns – that other men
May call them coward; one of the many fears
Of the fearful little pawns. Oh how we laugh!
How wide the murmur ripples through all Hell,
Through blackened arches, gloomy gates and caves!
From fiend to fiend, from from pit to lower pit,
That cackling laughter in the glimmering light
Echoes for ever, pleasing to the ears,
Warming the bloody currents of my veins –
I am the Hell-god, War!

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