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Margaret Widdemer: After War


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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

Margaret Widdemer: A Mother to the War-Makers

Margaret Widdemer: War-March


Margaret Widdemer
After War

The king has a stronger crown,
And the lines of the land are new,
New walls are piled where the old went down
And other flags over wall and town
Blow where the old flags blew –
(Little son! little son!
Your broken toys and your broken gun
Are all I have left of you.)

The girls that you used to know
Go by in the sunset light
But nevermore with them to and fro
A lad goes by as he used to go
(Little son! little son!
Your blithe young ghost from a time that’s done
Is all I can see tonight!)


The Wakened God

The War-God wakened drowsily;
There were gold chains about his hands.
He said: “And who shall reap my lands
And bear the tithes to Death for me?

“The nations stilled my thunderings;
They wearied of my steel despair,
The flames from out my burning hair:
Is there an ending of such things?”

Low laughed the Earth, and answered: “When
Was any changeless law I gave
Changed by my sons intent to save,
By puny pitying hands of men?

“I feel no ruth for some I bear…
The swarming, hungering overflow
Of crowded millions, doomed to go,
They must destroy who chained you there.

“For some bright stone or shining praise
They stint a million bodies’ breath,
And sell the women, shamed, to death,
And send the men brief length of days.

“They kill the bodies swift for me,
And kill the souls you gave to peace…
You were more merciful than these,
Old master of my cruelty.

“Lo, souls are scarred and virtues dim:
Take back thy scourge of ministry,
Rise from thy silence suddenly,
Lest these still take Death’s toll to him!”

The War-God snapped his golden chain:
His mercies thundered down the world,
And lashing battle-lines uncurled
And scourged the crouching lands again.

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