Home > Uncategorized > Elihu Burritt: Dismantled Arsenals. Death, sin and Satan weep over the grave of their renowned confederate, War.

Elihu Burritt: Dismantled Arsenals. Death, sin and Satan weep over the grave of their renowned confederate, War.


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

American writers on peace and against war

Elihu Burritt: Woman and War


Elihu Burritt
Dismantled Arsenals

We love to contemplate the ruins of those black-looking war-factories that were wont to pour forth a stream that gladdened the fellest spirit that ever breathed on this green world. There they stand in haggard desolation, like things built before the sun was made, and unable to bear its light; or like a bloated, ragged drunkard before a mirror with a thousand angel faces in it. Still and cold is now that terrible, mysterious enginery that turned the best things nature ever made for man into lava-streams of hot poison, that burnt his heart up with fierce inhuman passions. And those coiled, copper-coloured worms are dead – the greedy metallic snakes that devoured whole fields of yellow grain a day, the bread for which a thousand widows prayed, and plied their lean fingers at the midnight hour. They are dead! and when they died, their fiery malignant ghosts, I trow, were expelled the fellowship of better spirits in the bottomless pit, that could not brook their alcoholic breath. They are dead, the skulking reptiles! that, half-buried in the earth, poured invisible their rivulets of blighting ruin into the fountains of human happiness and life; that stung to death, in the sunniest walks of youth, hopes that took hold of heaven, of earth, of the love and joy of a thousand hearts. They are dead! and the stream is dry that fed the veins of War with hot vitality. And, next, that monstrous Gorgon will die. Depend upon it; War never had in its devil’s heart any other blood than rum. Nay, its heart itself is but a vast distillery, keeping its huge veins and arteries full of that fiery fluid. The vat of fermenting grain and cane juice is the stomach of War, and the stillworm its viscera. These are the nutritive and digestive organs of the great red dragon : and for this, – like other dragons killed in olden times – it must be mortal; for rum is mortal, and all its fiery fountains will dry up, while the earth is full of springs of water, pure and sweet as that which the sinless Adam drank out of the hand of God. Will war die ? War that claimed the immortality of Death and Sin? Yes; and Death, and Sin, and Satan, will live to weep over the grave of their renowned confederate. And such a funeral! methinks I see it now. The earth, sea, and sky, are vibrating with joyous emotion, and there is gladness in the heart of every living thing. The dust of fourteen thousand million of human beings butchered in the battle-field, stirs into life and form: and up springing from their coral graves and caverns fathomless in the sea, myriads of human skeletons leap upon the land and clap their bony hands in triumph, and around the globe runs the exulting gibber of “the sheeted dead,” that the great Destroyer has fallen. And yonder, methinks, there rolls a sea, full fifty fathoms deep – a dark, dead, salt sea of tears, fed by the outlets of a hundred thousand millions of human eyes that wept at War’s doings. And now a wailing wind, a monsoon of widows’ and orphans’ sighs moves over the briny deep, and lifts its bitter waves in sympathy with the world’s jubilee. And Labour, wan, dejected Labour, at whose veins the monster fed, runs up and down the green hills exulting to see the curse removed. And red-handed Slavery, the eldest thing of the leprous beast, lets go from her palsied hands the bonded millions she held with iron grasp, to throw their fetters into the grave of war, and shout for joy with all the sons of God that man is free. And all beings that live and love the face of man, the face of nature – that love to look up into the pure, peaceful sky, and on the peaceful sea, and fields and flocks, – that love to commune with the silent harmonies of the great creation, and listen to the music of unreasoning things, – all these fill the heavens with one jubilate! that the great CANNIBAL is dead – the great MAN-EATER, that, whetting its appetite on the flesh of Abel, ate up a large portion of the human race, and enslaved the rest to cater to the appetites of its wolfish maw.

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