Home > Uncategorized > Joseph Fawcett: Broken hearts to broken limbs reply. War expands in space and time.

Joseph Fawcett: Broken hearts to broken limbs reply. War expands in space and time.


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

British writers on peace and war

Joseph Fawcett: Selections against war


Joseph Fawcett
From The Art of War

The city feels the strife that’s in the field.
To the connected, sympathising scene
The battle’s blows their dire vibrations send
In other ruins rages there the war;
There falling fortunes answer falling lives,
And broken hearts to broken limbs reply:
Crash after crash resounds; fall follows fall;
And groan succeeds to groan; heav’d from the breast
Of tumbling traffickers, from splendour hurl’d
To beggary’s dark abyss; the wringing hands
Of ruin’d houses into Pity’s eyes
The tears continual call, that, scarcely wip’d,
Gush out again, and yet again are fill’d,
Replenish’d by the wretches as they rise
In long succession to her aching sight:
While, frequent, bursts upon the startled ear
The loud explosion from the tube of death,
‘Mid the domestic stillness thunder strange!


Ah! not so soon the eyes, which battle dims
On other shores, the tender dews dismiss.
There tremble long th’ untransitory tears:
The stabb’d Affections there bleed copious on
In countless breasts, war’s widest, deepest wounds!
When the stain’d sword, that drank the precious blood,
Or from their own, or the same fount that flow’d,
Or as their own was dear, hath long been wip’d
And to its sheath return’d – there, memory-bound,
Dwells deep affliction in full many a heart,
Month after month and year succeeding year;
And when the garb of Woe is worn no more,
Still mourns within, with grief that “passes show.”

Since such the foul offence, th’ enormous crime,
Gigantic guilt of war, exhausting all
Man’s powers of ill, that leaves him nothing more
Of monstrous to be done, – whence is it, say,
Whence is it, when the martial bands go forth,
Not to beat back, with righteous brav’ry nerv’d,
The lawless breaker into peaceful lands,
But distant men with tragic frown to front,
And blood that rolls in veins remote to spill;
Whence is it, as they pass, the public eye
Complacent on the long procession looks?
Where is the horror of the gazing throng,
That stuff the street, or, to the windows drumm’d,
Thick cluster there, whose theatre of looks
With placid smile the spectacle approve?
Why is it, that on all the faces round:
No frowns are seen? no palę abhorrence spreads?
No discomposure stirs? Whence comes the peace
On each calm countenance so sound that sleeps?
Lo! not a brow is knit! nor quits its rest
One quiet feature! nor one single eye
Shoots angry light, or wounded shrinks away
At such a monstrous scene! a concourse vast
Of homicides, thick thronging on the sight!
Whose train protracted satiates, as they pass,
E’en eyes, on shows that glistening long can gaze;
Each going forth to do that deed accurs’d,
Whose solitary act, in Fancy’s ear,
Excites the raven’s scream; while the dread spot,
Where violated life’s hoarse groans were heav’d,
Shows frightful shapes to Superstition’s eyes
And the dire tale, on winter’s witching eve,
In narrower ring the shivering circle knits
Close creeping to the warm protecting hearth.

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