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Dana Burnet: War

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

American writers on peace and against war

Dana Burnet: Napoleon’s Tomb

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Dana Burnet
War

All down the reeking trail of years the mailèd armies go,
With mock of flags and bitter drums and dead hearts in a row,
Behind them in the gloom of blood the broken nations lie
And o’er them wheels their gruesome god, a buzzard in the sky.

For some have marched with heathen curse, and some with Christian prayer,
But all have paid the vulture god that beats the darkened air;
And women know and children know that hear the trumpets’ breath,
There is no god goes with them but the wheeling god of death.

A thousand vineyards rot and die, a thousand hearths lie cold,
And still earth sends her armies down for some new shame of gold,
And still the little mothers sit with faces white and wan,
And watch the buzzards wheeling in the crimson smoke of dawn!

How long, O Liege of Heaven, ere Thy fearful judgments cease?
What sin is on my brother’s hand that will not give him peace?
What flaw is in the Potter’s clay that molds us to such shame,
And puts upon a murdered man the grinning mask of fame?

Down all the reeking trail of years I see the armies go,
With mock of flags and waste of dreams and dead hearts in a row,
And high above the blighted road their iron feet have trod
I see the awful clouding wing that blots the face of God.

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