Home > Uncategorized > Margaret Widdemer: Men have to wage world-wars, children are left to die

Margaret Widdemer: Men have to wage world-wars, children are left to die


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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

Margaret Widdemer: After War

Margaret Widdemer: A Mother to the War-Makers

Margaret Widdemer: War-March


Margaret Widdemer
A Poor Child

The little dreamer is dead
Who would have woven for Man
Thread upon golden thread,
Span upon silver span,
Into the dark degrees
Of the great world-tapestries.

For God had given him dreams
That would have builded earth
To a place of heaven-schemes,
Of pity and peace and mirth
But the little dreamer is dead,
And the dreams of his childish head.

There were not under the stars
Riches enough for him;
Men have to wage world-wars,
Pile the great towers that dim
Beauty of sea and sky
The children are left to die.

In this our merciful day
Saints may not live to climb
Their crosses and who shall say
In what short pulse of time
With none to pity or hark
Christ-children die in the dark?



Must I always sing at the walls to hearten the men who fight
In causes changeful as wind and as brief as a summer night;

Must I always praise the wisdom of Man who is blind, blind-led,
Of kings who are kings for a day and are dead when the day is dead;

Of right that is wrong to-morrow, of truths that were last year’s lies,
Of little strifes and upbuildings that die when a nation dies?

For Rome is withered, and Hellas; but leaves in the wind bow still
As they bowed for my brother’s dreaming who sang by some dead god’s hill,

And all Assyria’s captains are dead with the dead they made,
Dust of the gyve and anklet with dust of the casque and blade,

But wonderful dreams blow still in the swirl of gray smoke new-gone
As they blew from a fire at twilight for my brother in Ascalon;

And all of the mighty walls men have reared to sweep down again
Are thwarted shadows of visions some poet spun far from men.

I am tired of praising the deeds that are brief as a breath may be,
That change with the mocking turn of a day or a century:

I will go and spin useless dreams that shall last until men are hurled
Out into the space of the Timeless with ash of a burning world!

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