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E. P. Marvin: War Disenchanted

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

American writers on peace and against war

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E. P. Marvin
War Disenchanted

War is the business of barbarians. – Napoleon Bonaparte.
I hate war. – U.S. Grant.
War is hell. – W. T. Sherman.

A gallant form is passing by,
The plume bends o’er his lordly brow;
A thousand tongues have raised on high
His song of triumph now.
Young knees are bending round his way,
And age makes bare his locks of gray.

Fair forms have lent their gladdest smiles,
White hands have waved the conqueror on,
And flowers have decked his path the while,
By gentle fingers strewn.
Soft tones have cheered him, and the brow
Of beauty beams uncovered now.

The bard hath waked the song for him,
And poured his wildest numbers forth;
The winecup, sparkling to the brim,
Adds frenzy to the mirth;
And every tongue and every eye
Does homage to the passer by.

The cannon thunder strikes the ear,
And martial strains their witchery lend;
‘Neath battle flag “The Men of Peace”
Their benediction lend
To Pagod things of saber sway,
With fronts of brass and feet of clay.

The gallant steed treads proudly on;
His foot falls firmly now as when
In strife that iron heel went down
Upon the hearts of men;
Unmindful all, mid shouts and cheers,
Of manhood’s blood and woman’s tears.

The warrior’s stormy voice is heard
To lead the charge with wrathful mien;
And brothers join in carnage dread,
Till darkness shrouds the scene,
‘Mid oaths and groans and cries to God,
And garments rolled in vital blood.

Dream they of these? the glad and gay,
That bend around the conqueror’s path,
The horrors of the conflict day,
The gloomy field of death,
The ghastly slain, the severed head,
The mourners weeping o’er the dead?

Dark thoughts and fearful! yet they bring
No terrors to the triumph hour,
Nor stay the reckless worshipping
Of blended crime and power:
The fair of form, the mild of mood
Do honor to the man of blood.

Men – Christians, pause! the air ye breathe
Is poisoned by your idol now;
And will ye turn to him and wreathe
Your chaplets round his brow?
Nay, call his darkest deeds sublime,
And smile assent to giant crime?

Great King of Peace, whom we adore,
Look down with pity from above!
Oh, lift the awful curse of war,
And reign in peace and love!
Oh, come, Lord Jesus, quickly come,
Erect thy Kingdom and thy Throne!

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