Home > Uncategorized > Ethel Talbot Scheffauer: The sun shall rise upon a newer world that has forgot to kill

Ethel Talbot Scheffauer: The sun shall rise upon a newer world that has forgot to kill

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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

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Ethel Talbot Scheffauer
The Dead Man’s Watch
(Over the Peace Conference in Paris)

In the white and delicate city, where pleasure mates with art,
There are ghosts walking, and they are sick at heart.

And there are those walking that drowned in the deep seas,
With the sands in their thick hair and the weeds about their knees.

And there are those walking that never will be found
By the bird in the air or the worm under the ground.

Thunder clamored and flame flew, and where God’s creature went
There rose but a little smoke from the grey earth foully rent.

And they that are not, in their thin and piteous hosts
Walk the streets by daylight, the grey, unheeded ghosts.

And fear is in their faces and horror in their eyes
For he that dies in vain, a double death he dies.

And they whisper one to another, and they murmur their dull pleas:
“What if the peace of the old men shall be a toothed peace?

“What if the peace of the old men be made with tooth and claw,
By the strong according to his strength, as in the crimson law?

“Brother, we gave our only life the crimson law to kill,
And spilled the iron chalice out upon the tortured hill.

“Go, sink upon his shoulder, and whisper at his ear,
And knock at the heart of each old man, that he may wake and hear:

“And glide into his secret sleep and dog his feet by day,
For we have died to make the peace the old men live to slay.

“Scavenger birds have watched for us upon the desert plains,
Our bones are bleached in endless snows and washed with mountain rains.

“And we have laid ourselves to sleep in lands we never knew,
Where strangers’ feet went over us and red siroccos blew .

“But we said to one another, deep in our dreaming hearts:
We died to make an end that men may barter death in marts;

“That never again a rich man batten upon his scarlet gold
Nor the cold silks of his women run blood from every fold.

“Our sons ploughing the broken fields where we have moaned and lain,
Shall never hear the rattling drum summoning up the slain

“Summoning up the living men with the seal upon their brows,
And Death behind the trumpeter, beckoning from his house.

“Choked with high words and wrapped in hate and weaponed with a lie,
So we went forth in all the years, helpless to live or die.

“But now they make a peace for us, that the world may have rest,
And the sun storming up the east and shattering down the west.

“Shall rise upon a newer world that has forgot to kill:
For this we fought and died, my brother – who remembers still?

“But now the old men make the peace; busy, with crafty eyes,
They carry stones for the temple and build in cunning wise:

“And fear is in our hollow eyes, and fear eats at the heart,
And plucks us out of our cool graves and thrusts us in the mart.

“And we must walk the city streets and watch, early and late,
Lest that the peace the old men make should be a peace of hate.”

 

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