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Max Plowman: The Goddess of War


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

British writers on peace and war

Max Plowman: The dead soldiers. Killing men is always killing God.

Max Plowman: The God of War


Max Plowman
From the preface to A Lap Full of Seed

If you find a single line that is really interesting I beg that you will do me the kindness of shouting your discovery at the top of your voice; for you and I know we live in loud times, when brazen voices vie with the crash of machine-made warfare in the making of bedlam: times when we can ill afford to lose an interesting line.

Impassioned truth is always poetry; and no man ever yet attempted to tell the truth sincerely without achieving something of the nature of poetry.

I feel sure you will forgive me even my lack of Good Form when you remember that at least I never wrote a line in praise of
All the little emptiness of war.
[A parody of Rupert Brooke’s And all the little emptiness of love!]


The Goddess of War

‘I am drunk with unsatiated love;
I must rush again to War.’ [William Blake]

Glad in all regal splendour forth she rides
Upon a jet-black horse champing the curb,
While loud huzzas the pendant air disturb,
Since in her breast a nation’s hope abides.
Behold, the King and God she claims for guides!
And Justice too come thou and hate the Serb!
And men and angels, laud ye the superb
Majesty which in her peerless form resides!

Yet look again. Her eyes are balls of fire.
Her scarlet robe is bright with human gore.
Where’er she moves, ashes spring from the dust.
Truth saith: She taketh souls of men for hire
And burneth them in fires of their own lust:
That she is Self’s own self-appointed whore.

July, 1914

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