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Ina Duvall Singleton: The Women’s Litany


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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war


Ina Duvall Singleton
The Women’s Litany

From battle (which is murder) and from strife,
From needless, wholesale waste of human life
Deliver us, who cry for help to Thee –
Oh! Lord of Hosts, hear Thou our litany!

For in those mighty armies that are hurled
Each on to each, as one would loose the chain
That binds dread beasts – to battle until Slain,
Is One – within those ranks, each man – (a pawn
‘Twould seem to those who, battling, set them on)
Each fighting man leaves one behind to mourn.

For every man who dies to give
His life, that England’s freedom live;
For every man who yields his dower
Of strength, to strengthen German power;
For every man who hails the chance –
“A glorious death for glorious France!”
For every man, some woman waits!

The mothers, who nave borne proud pain,
That by their travail earth might gain
Her sons, and then their lives have spent
To rear them – Lord, these women meant
For peaceful age – see now they wait!
What part have they in that great hate
That sets men battling? Yet, they wait!

The wives who on these men depend;
The wives whose husbands should defend
Them from the hardships, cares of life;
If there be glory in this strife,
No glory do they share who wait,
Deserted, sorrowing, desolate |
Look, Lord, in pity! – See! they wait!

The children – helpless, innocent –
For whom a father’s care was meant;
Bereft of that, they stand alone –
Can victory for their loss atone?
Behold these children, Lord! They wait!

Till men their blood-lust satiate –
For sires who may not come, they wait!
From pestilence, from famine, from each shape
Of horror that stalks after, in war’s wake,
Deliver us, who cry for aid to Thee!
Lord, God of Hosts, hear Thou our litany!

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