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Edwin Arnold Brenholtz: The Dying Warrior


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

American writers on peace and against war

Edwin Arnold Brenholtz: The Demon, War

Edwin Arnold Brenholtz: The Passion of Peace


Edwin Arnold Brenholtz
The Dying Warrior

“Hasten now, Courier, night is approaching!
Here is your message, Speed! dark is encroaching!
Blurred are the valleys – on hilltops light lingers;
Would I could aid you with hate-inspired fingers.

“Sore am I wounded: my warfare is finished.
Firm is the foe and our ranks are diminished;
Wasted by sickness, desertions and fighting –
Would that you were at this moment alighting.

“Oh, that a soldier should ever be tardy!
Hasten, my comrade, be speedy as hardy.
Bring reinforcements before the day’s dawning:
Graves, if you fail, for us all will be yawning.

“Ha! you are ready. One moment, – stoop, listen, –
Farewell forever! – Alone – Eyes will glisten! –
Soldier-checked tears at the thought of disaster; –
Oh that those hoof-beats away would die faster.

“Here is the ending of fond dreams of glory:
Linked with defeat goes my name down in story.
Is it disgrace to be trebly outnumbered?
No! but they’ll write, ‘Sure, his vigilance slumbered.’

“Such are the chances the warrior faces.
Death – like most others – he fearless embraces.
Ne’er does he count on a final disaster;
Always, in dreams, he is victor and master.

“Was that a bugle note? On to the slaying,
Mortals for stakes on earth’s battlefields playing!
Men are but pawns in the great game of nations:
Here is one more dropped from human relations.

“Feebly fond thoughts in this brain now are glowing –
Curst is war’s harvest; its seed we are sowing.
See! there’s the flag I have followed – God bless it!
Comrades, I’m coming! O life-blood! repress it.

“Weaker and weaker! Now, can’t make a motion:
Fame, art thou worthy a lifetime’s devotion?
Some have had doubts as to justice of slaying:
Children and wife for my welfare are praying.

“Small, in these death-touched eyes, causes for warring;
High o’er past life is this spirit now soaring:
Fame all imperfect to world I am leaving:
Oh, see the thousands my life has set grieving.

“Must I be facing forever this vision;
Murderers calling with brutal derision
‘Come to us Brother’ – Away with delusion,
Bred by the fever, the stillness, seclusion.

“Dark, and alone, and in silence I’m sinking –
Only of children and wife now I’m thinking: –
God, in thy mercy forgive me for blindness;
Answer their prayers in thine infinite kindness;

“Answer” –

O Lord, we complete his petition:
Purge from each mind all this strife superstition;
Answer, with peace, those to whom he brought sorrow;
Answer, with Peace, for all men on the morrow.


To Arbitration

Blest Arbitration, boundless boon to man,
Significant assumer of the soul in all,
Appropriate partner in the Peace-man’s work,
Declarer of the day when War shall cease –
Hail, hail thy universal sway!

Democracy’s defense against all deathly deeds,
Base Battle’s bearer to unbottomed grave,
Sincere saluter of contestants with the kiss of peace,
All-uncorrupted, calm, convincer in despite of purchased courts –
Hail, hail thy universal sway!

Announced in notes of joy that jubilantly praise Almighty
God at end of war,
Embodied in the ballot cast that bears behest of ours,
Revealed in revolutions swords rebelled against, –
Thou art, O Arbitration, born of Love and Peace, th’ acclaimed compatriot of every cause that cries:
“Come let us reason – not resort to force.”

Conspirator that hast conspired to strangle Strife;
Well-wisher of the world, most wise, that daily waits to deal cursed War a death-blow, to his face;
Adviser of the down-trod: “Dare demand, and I will speak the doom;”
Beguiler of the brute to plead where brutes are evermore brought low –
Hail, hail thy universal sway!

Conceived by Love incarnate close at hand,
Brought forth for this: To furnish Peace a realm and race complete and fit,
Endowed with daring to demand the earth as thine,
Enthroned in hearts whose homage hastes where Justice stands –
Thou art, O Arbitration, born of Love and Peace!

Less loved than War by lisping lass unschooled by life,
Less loved than War by wanton, warriors waste their pay and manhood on,
Less loved than War by world that wounds its Christ to death –
But thou, O Arbitration, born of Peace and Love, art now, hast been, and evermore shalt be th’ acclaimed compatriot of each cause that cries:

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