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John Werge: Battle in hell if war ye must

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

British writers on peace and war

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John Werge
From War and Peace
Or, Two Aspects of the World

Awake! ye armour’d dead! awake,
Ye fallen hosts, and shake
The blood-stained ashes of your graves
From off your heads! ye slaves,
Awake! look up, and see the world
With war’s red banner furled!
Awake ye sanguinary crowds
Of living men, ye clouds
Of sanctioned murderers, stand back;
The time has come for rack
Of war, and battle’s blood fields
To cease. Hang up your shields,
Your swords and guns, with sharpened steel;
Your colours torn conceal;
Blot out the names of battles fought;
Let not a single thought
Of victories won or contests lost,
Disturb your breasts. A host
Of nobler, grander motives spring
To life, and like the King
Of Kings, benignly glance around,
With eyes and sense unbound
By passion, aggrandizement, love
Of conquest great, above
Such sordid, mad, tempestuous strife –
Imbued with love of life and heavenly deeds!
Stand back, ye hosts!
Armed to the teeth. Like ghosts
Sink into earth and disappear
For ever, – and for ever here
Let peace he peace. No more the din
Of battle; nor the sin
Of wholesale slaughter shock the sense
Of man – of God. Fly hence –
Go where ye will: if still intent
On war, find him who rent
The peace of heaven, – go battle there,
If war ye must; and where
So fit a place to fight as hell?

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