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Margaret Sackville: Reconciliation over our mutual dead

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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

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Margaret Sackville
Reconciliation

When all the stress and all the toil is over,
And my lover lies sleeping by your lover,
With alien earth on hands and brows and feet,
Then we may meet.

Moving sorrowfully with uneven paces,
The bright sun shining on our ravaged faces,
There, very quietly, without sound or speech,
Each shall greet each.

We who are bound by the same grief for ever,
When all our sons are dead may talk together,
Each asking pardon from the other one
For her dead son.

With such low, tender words the heart may fashion,
Broken and few, of pity and compassion,
Knowing that we disturb at every tread
Our mutual dead.

****

Home Again

They give us sweets and picture-books and cigarettes and things,
And they speaks to us respectful – like as though we all was kings;
And they asks us silly questions – but they means well in their way,
So we tells them how we fought and fell on such and such a day,
And we talks a bit to please them when the ladies come to call:
But the things that we have done and seen they ‘aven’t seen at all.

An’ the blessed daily papers, why we’d like to take the lot
Right out of safe old England and let them see us shot.
There’s ‘eaps to tell them if we could, but it doesn’t seem worth while –
So we ‘olds our tongues and tempers, and when we can we smile.

They’re just like kiddies at their play – but we, we’ve felt and seen,
And ‘tween the likes o’ them an’ us the’re days and nights between:
Such days, such nights ! – there ain’t no words, not human, to express –
But we often wish they’d think a bit and chatter rather less;
But it takes a deal o’ pluck for that and quite a lot o’ brain,
And since they haven’t got them, well we simply can’t explain.

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On the Pope’s Manifesto

One voice only through the reek and roar
Sounds with a simple and august appeal:
“Oh! little ones of God, will ye not heal
These wounds, and cease from strife and hate no more?”
Vain words! since violently as before
The nations heave, like a great sea up-tossed;
Even such a sea as Christ’s calm feet once crossed,
When the waves hushed their tumult to adore .

And now as then, the Outcast, the Despised
Christ, to us fighting in the name of Christ
Bids “Peace, be still” – but we have drawn the sword ,
And each secure his cause at least is good,
Sheds to approve that faith his brother’s blood;
Being by so much wiser than the Lord.

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