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William Norman Ewer: Five Souls

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

British writers on peace and war

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William Norman Ewer
Five Souls

FIRST SOUL
I was a peasant of the Polish plain;
I left my plough because the message ran: –
Russia, in danger, needed every man
To save her from the Teuton; and was slain.
I gave my life for freedom – this I know:
For those who bade me fight had told me so.

SECOND SOUL.
I Was a Tyrolese, a mountaineer:
I gladly left my mountain home to fight
Against the brutal, treacherous Muscovite:
And died in Poland on a Cossack spear.
I gave my life for freedom – this I know:
For those who bade me fight had told me so.

THIRD SOUL
I worked in Lyons at my weaver’s loom,
When suddenly the Prussian despot hurled
His felon blow at France and at the world:
Then I went forth to Belgium and my doom.
I gave my life for freedom – this I know:
For those who bade me fight had told me.

FOURTH SOUL
I owned a vineyard by the wooded Main.
Until the Fatherland, begirt by foes
Lusting her downfall, called me, and I rose
Swift to the call – and died in fair Lorraine.
I gave my life for freedom – this I know:
For those who bade me fight had told me so.

FIFTH SOUL
I worked in a great shipyard by the Clyde;
There came a sudden word of wars declared,
Of Belgium, peaceful, helpless, unprepared,
Asking our aid: I joined the ranks, and died.
I gave my life for freedom – this I know:
For those who bade me fight had told me so.

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