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Clement Wood: Victory – Without Peace

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

American writers on peace and against war

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Clement Wood
Victory – Without Peace

The slaughter-bugles screamed once more,
Over the patchwork lands of men,
And scattered, sword-hewn empires tore
Each other’s greedy hearts again –

One with a black and boastful greed,
Seeking a red supremacy;
The other with a mumbled creed
That it was armed to make men free.

Each steppe and pampa woke to flame
And joined the berserker advance;
From wild forgotten roads they came,
For the world ‘s roads all led to France.

And now no more the hail of steel
Tortures the lines of brown and gray…
The brief, joy-mad processions reel
And drop…and it is peace, men say.

Peace? When wherever men are found
The victors cry, “But just so free!”
And reddened banners spring from the ground,
For freer red supremacy….

A hollow shell of victory,
With war still writhing at its heart;
A clipped and gelded liberty,
Striving to force its chain apart!

Yet solvent love is not too far,
If men grow wise, or mobs stay kind;
And we could calm this troubled star,
Its singing rapture unconfined.

Now take your choice, O you who hoard
Frail-fingered power, weak lordly breath;
Young freedom, or the age-scarred sword,
Which leaves no peace on earth – but death.

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