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Jean Paul Richter: The fathers of war


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

German writers on peace and war

Jean Paul Richter: The arch of peace

Jean Paul Richter: The Goddess of Peace


Jean Paul Richter
From The Titan (1800-1803)
Translated by Charles T. Brooks

Only those hard stormers of heaven and earth before whose triumphal chariots there starts up beforehand a wagon-rampart full of wounds and corpses, – that is, the fathers of war, which, in the long course of history, ministers have oftener been than princes, – only these can calmly kindle all the volcanoes of earth, and let all their lava-torrents stream down, merely that they may have fair prospects. They manure Elysian fields into a battle-field, in order therein to raise a redder rose-bush for a mistress.


Schoppe read aloud…two extensive battles, wherein, as by an earthquake, lands instead of houses were buried, and whose wounds and years only the evil genius of the earth could be willing to know; thereupon he read, – after the death-marches of whole generations, and the rending open of the craters of humanity, – with uninterrupted seriousness, the notices, under the head of Intelligence, where one solitary individual mounts upon an unknown little grave…


[It must] pain Immortals when they behold us under the violent tempests of life arrayed against each other on the battle-field of enmity, under double blows, and so mortally smitten at once by remote destiny and by that nearer hand which should bind up our wounds!

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