Home > Uncategorized > Katharine Lee Bates: The doomful, mad torpedo, the colossal slaughter-guns

Katharine Lee Bates: The doomful, mad torpedo, the colossal slaughter-guns


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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

Katharine Lee Bates: Selections on war and peace


Katharine Bates
The Cry

Multitudionous the cry beating on the smoke-veiled sky.
Since the first war-wrath burst on immortal Belgium,
– Roar of cannon, shriek of shells, toll of earthward-crashing bells,
Thunder of the bomb exploding, careless where its tortures come.
Under all, the dreadful moan of the battlefield, far-strown
With those cleft bodies left like a wreck of broken spars.

Oh, the Raphaels, Davids lost in that welter!
Oh, life’s cost,
As a giant tread had crushed into dark a sky of stars!
And for every dying throb of those millions, women sob;
East or west, a mother’s breast is the same to cherish sons;
From the Ganges, Danube, Rhone, sorrow wails her antiphone
To the doomful, mad torpedo, the colossal slaughter-guns.

There’s no silence left on earth for the dream that brings to birth
Beauty, grace, no fair space on this crimsoned, tattered chart,
Not one walled and cloistered spot where on every air come not
Groanings of a hurt creation, troubling all the job of art.

But a hope has gone abroad, a hope that crowns the sword;
Faces shine with divine courage for a gain high-priced.
Peace shall be the prize of strife, death shall yet deliver life,
That this cry may nevermore beat upon the heart of Christ.

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