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Barbara Young: Peace is not bought with dead men slain

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

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Barbara Young
The Little Stones
Remembering a First Sight of the Arlington National Cemetery

I saw them shining in the sun,
The little stones of Arlington;
The endless rows of snowy stones,
As cold as death, as white as bones.

My eyes went counting, and I said:
“Here lies a world of early dead;
A buried world of light and love.
And who shall count the cost thereof?”

I saw strange shapes that seemed to pass
Like ghosts upon the early grass,
Like spectres marching, one by one,
The little stones of Arlington.

I heard a fife; I heard a drum.
I heard a bugle calling “Come!”
A thousand thousand soundless feet
Went tramping down a ghostly street.

A thousand thousand restless heads
Were lifted from their earthy beds;
And blood flowed out; I saw it run
Upon the stones of Arlington.

A thousand thousand tortured eyes
Looked up unto the silent skies;
And to my ears there came a sound
Of voices from the silent ground.

“It is not meet that men should die
With fire and sword,” the dead men cry.
“The bitter price is paid in vain.
Peace is not bought with dead men slain.”

I heard the words like clanging bells,
I saw the battles and the hells,
The rainy roads, the darkened sun.
I saw the stones of Arlington.

Tomorrow bits of silk will wave
Above the grass on every grave,
And blossoms plucked and borne with love.
And who shall count the cost thereof?

It is enough. Let men no more
Spill blood of men on any shore;
Nor smoke of battle cloud the sun;
And no more stones in Arlington.

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