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Margaret Sackville: The Peacemakers


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

British writers on peace and war

Women writers on peace and war

Margaret Sackville: Selections on peace and war


Margaret Sackville
The Peacemakers

We do not fight with swords,
Red iron, explosive fire,
And on no battle-field
Urge we our soul’s desire. –
Nay, but our bitter might.
Silent and shod like Peace,
Shall set your homes alight
In the fullness of your ease.
Strike us, we strike not back.
But o’er the bloodless sod
Come thundering on our track
The batteries of God.

We slay you with a thought;
We wound you with a word;
We stab you to the heart
Who have abjured the sword.
Your strength has trampled down
Our weakness underfoot;
The king has saved his crown.
The scaffold bears its fruit;
Our lips are silenced – yet
The word we spoke lives on;
The thing ye would forget
Is the thing already done.

Oh! victors have ye bound
Our bodies? This is good.
But ye seek to bind in vain
The thought not understood.
Not this year or the next
Shall we be justified;
Enough that we perplexed
Your minds before we died.
This shall suffice our need,
That one swift word once said
Shall later be your creed:
And other men lie dead.


Who knows but on these fields,
These sowing-grounds of death,
Whence stern and dreadful springs
Harvest of wrath and flame,
This thought some comfort yields
To the crushed dead beneath:
They for the selfsame things
Fight by some other name.

Not armed are we – we go
Naked and ill at ease,
Mocked at, derided, spurned;

Men pass us in the street.
Because the common foe
Insults the name of peace,
We noiselessly have turned
His triumph to defeat.

Ye for men’s comfort give
Your willing blood – your pain;
Daily ye strive and fall
Nor pause to count your dead.
We do not die but live
Lest ye shall die in vain;
Not yours alone the call,
To us, too, was it said: –

The dream which men forget
Shall mingle with the deed;
Strike one with sword and one
With thought – till all men see
That sword and word have met
And all the earth is freed;
But till that union
Shall none alive be free.


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