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Clinton Scollard: Can mankind win to heights of peace and perfect amity?

January 25, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

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Clinton Scollard
Can It Be?

Down my mind’s corridors
Go murmuring the memories of old wars;
By day and night they haunt me, anguished cries
From fields whence only the lark’s song should rise,
Or the blithe reaper’s shout amidst the grain.
And now there comes a grimmer, greater pain
Voicing its suffering. O God, what gain
In all this woe of nations? Can it be
Through the dark valley that mankind shall win
From lust of power and jealousy and sin
To heights of peace and perfect amity?

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Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen: The war-god Mars sat over all Europe

January 24, 2020 Leave a comment

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

German writers on peace and war

Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen: Soldiers and peasants

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Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen
From Simplicius Simplicissimus

I turned again to the trees whereof the whole land was full and saw how they swayed and smote against each other: and the fellows tumbled off them in batches. Now a crack; now a fall. One moment quick, the next dead. In a moment one lost an arm, another a leg, the third his head. And as I looked methought all trees I saw were but one tree, at whose top sat the war-god Mars, and which covered with its branches all Europe. It seemed to me this tree could have overshadowed the whole world: but because it was blown about by envy and hate, by suspicion and unfairness, by pride and haughtiness and avarice, and other such fair virtues, as by bitter north winds, therefore it seemed thin and transparent: for which reason one had writ on its trunk these rhymes:

“The holmoak by the wind beset and brought to ruin,
Breaks its own branches down and proves its own undoing.
By civil war within and brothers’ deadly feud
Alls topsy-turvy turned and misery hath ensued.”

****

I did hear and see sins done in God’s name, which are much to be grieved for. Such wickedness was specially practised by the soldiers, when they would say, “Now in God’s name let us forth on a foray,” viz., to plunder, kidnap, shoot down, cut down, assault, capture and burn, and all the rest of their horrible works and practices. Just as the usurers ever invoke God with their hypocritical “In God’s name”: and therewithal let their devilish avarice loose to flay and to strip honest folk.

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Francis Saltus Saltus: The wind favors poets over conquerors

January 23, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

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Francis Saltus Saltus
Graves

The sad night-wind, sighing o’er sea and strand,
Haunts the cold marble where Napoleon sleeps;
O’er Charlemagne’s grave, far in the northern land,
A vigil through the centuries it keeps.
O’er Grecian kings its plaintive music sweeps;
Proud Philip’s tomb is by its dark wings fanned,
And round old Pharaohs, deep in desert sand,
Where the grim Sphinx leers to the stars, it creeps.
Yet weary it is of this chill, spectral gloom,
For mouldering grandeur it can have no care,
Rich mausoleums in their granite doom
It fain would leave, to wander on elsewhere,
To cool the violets upon Gautier’s tomb,
And lull the long grass over Baudelaire.

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William Shakespeare: War’s exactions

January 22, 2020 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

William Shakespeare: Selections on war and peace

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William Shakespeare
From Henry VIII

In her days every man shall eat in safety,
Under his own vine, what he plants; and sing
The merry songs of peace to all his neighbours:
God shall be truly known…

****

QUEEN KATHERINE
I am solicited, not by a few,
And those of true condition, that your subjects
Are in great grievance: there have been commissions
Sent down among ’em, which hath flaw’d the heart
Of all their loyalties: wherein, although,
My good lord cardinal, they vent reproaches
Most bitterly on you, as putter on
Of these exactions, yet the king our master –
Whose honour heaven shield from soil! – even he escapes not
Language unmannerly, yea, such which breaks
The sides of loyalty, and almost appears
In loud rebellion.

DUKE OF NORFOLK
Not almost appears,
It doth appear; for, upon these taxations,
The clothiers all, not able to maintain
The many to them longing, have put off
The spinsters, carders, fullers, weavers, who,
Unfit for other life, compell’d by hunger
And lack of other means, in desperate manner
Daring the event to the teeth, are all in uproar,
And danger serves among then!

HENRY VIII
Taxation!
Wherein? and what taxation? My lord cardinal,
You that are blamed for it alike with us,
Know you of this taxation?

CARDINAL WOLSEY
Please you, sir,
I know but of a single part, in aught
Pertains to the state; and front but in that file
Where others tell steps with me.

QUEEN KATHERINE
No, my lord,
You know no more than others; but you frame
Things that are known alike; which are not wholesome
To those which would not know them, and yet must
Perforce be their acquaintance. These exactions,
Whereof my sovereign would have note, they are
Most pestilent to the bearing; and, to bear ’em,
The back is sacrifice to the load. They say
They are devised by you; or else you suffer
Too hard an exclamation.

HENRY VIII
Still exaction!
The nature of it? in what kind, let’s know,
Is this exaction?

QUEEN KATHERINE
Queen Katharine. I am much too venturous
In tempting of your patience; but am bolden’d
Under your promised pardon. The subjects’ grief
Comes through commissions, which compel from each
The sixth part of his substance, to be levied
Without delay; and the pretence for this
Is named, your wars in France: this makes bold mouths:
Tongues spit their duties out, and cold hearts freeze
Allegiance in them; their curses now
Live where their prayers did: and it’s come to pass,
This tractable obedience is a slave
To each incensed will. I would your highness
Would give it quick consideration, for
There is no primer business.

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Frances Ellen Watkins Harper: Music to soothe all sorrow till war and crime shall cease

January 21, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper: Do Not Cheer, Men Are Dying

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Frances Ellen Watkins Harper
Songs for the People

Let me make the songs for the people,
Songs for the old and young;
Songs to stir like a battle-cry
Wherever they are sung.

Not for the clashing of sabres,
For carnage nor for strife;
But songs to thrill the hearts of men
With more abundant life.

Let me make the songs for the weary,
Amid life’s fever and fret,
Till hearts shall relax their tension,
And careworn brows forget.

Let me sing for little children,
Before their footsteps stray,
Sweet anthems of love and duty,
To float o’er life’s highway.

I would sing for the poor and aged,
When shadows dim their sight;
Of the bright and restful mansions,
Where there shall be no night.

Our world, so worn and weary,
Needs music, pure and strong,
To hush the jangle and discords
Of sorrow, pain, and wrong.

Music to soothe all its sorrow,
Till war and crime shall cease;
And the hearts of men grown tender
Girdle the world with peace.

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Henry Ward: Ode to Peace

January 20, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

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Henry Ward
Ode to Peace (1857)

Oh! gentle peace! thou of the dove-like eye,
Who dwelleth with the Seraphim on high,
Why, with a tearful, and averted glance,
When war, grin, frowning, shakes his glittering lance,
Dost thou, affrighted, turn from earth away,
And cease to hold thy mild, benignant sway
O’er mortals toss’d on passion’s raging tide,
Ambitious fools, the dupes of worldly pride?
It is not strange! with such thou canst not dwell,
Though cloister’d like a hermit in his cell,
Or seated on a tyrant monarch’s throne,
Whose nod is power, whose will is law alone,
Or striding in the gorgeous halls of State
Arouses kindred souls to fierce debate,
Or ‘mid the battering ranks of gleaming steel
Braves death, where lightnings flash, and thunders peel;
Thou canst not dwell with him whose restless soul
Will brook no moderation nor control,
But like the foaming billow of the sea,
Is ever chafing, yet is never free
From wild, tumultuous strife, and storm, and ire,
The victim of ambition’s scathing fire.

But with the pure in heart, the meek, and kind,
Thou lov’st to dwell; and thou for them wilt bind
Thine olive chaplet with unfading flowers,
And through the calm, delightful sunny hours
With fan them with thy downy rainbow wings,
And lead them where contentment ever springs,
And tranquil joy, and smiling bliss preside,
Where heavenly wisdom’s footsteps ever guide!
It is the will of Heaven that thou shouldst reign,
And claim the earth as thine – thy just domain;
For when the angel herald of the sky
Announced Messiah’s glorious reign as nigh,
The sweetest notes that Seraph ever sang
O’er yon celestial spheres melodious rang,
“Peace! peace on earth; good will to erring man!”
O’er all the stars the joyful tidings ran;
The countless planets heard the rapturous sound,
And moved in harmony; bright glory crowned
The universe, with light, and life, and love,
Like one vast ocean flowing from above.
Then come, oh! dove-like Peace! and here remain,
Till all mankind shall own thy gentle reign!

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François Rabelais: The magnanimity of peace

January 19, 2020 Leave a comment

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

French writers on war and peace

François Rabelais: Born for peace, not war

François Rabelais: Strictures against war

François Rabelais: Waging war in good earnest

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François Rabelais
Gargantua and Pantagruel
Translated by Sir Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty

From Gargantua’s speech to the vanquished

Our forefathers and ancestors of all times have been of this nature and disposition, that, upon the winning of a battle, they have chosen rather, for a sign and memorial of their triumphs and victories, to erect trophies and monuments in the hearts of the vanquished by clemency than by architecture in the lands which they had conquered. For they did hold in greater estimation the lively remembrance of men purchased by liberality than the dumb inscription of arches, pillars, and pyramids, subject to the injury of storms and tempests, and to the envy of everyone. You may very well remember of the courtesy which by them was used towards the Bretons in the battle of St. Aubin of Cormier and at the demolishing of Partenay. You have heard, and hearing admire, their gentle comportment towards those at the barriers (the barbarians) of Spaniola, who had plundered, wasted, and ransacked the maritime borders of Olone and Thalmondois. All this hemisphere of the world was filled with the praises and congratulations which yourselves and your fathers made, when Alpharbal, King of Canarre, not satisfied with his own fortunes, did most furiously invade the land of Onyx, and with cruel piracies molest all the Armoric Islands and confine regions of Britany. Yet was he in a set naval fight justly taken and vanquished by my father, whom God preserve and protect. But what? Whereas other kings and emperors, yea, those who entitle themselves Catholics, would have dealt roughly with him, kept him a close prisoner, and put him to an extreme high ransom, he entreated him very courteously, lodged him kindly with himself in his own palace, and out of his incredible mildness and gentle disposition sent him back with a safe conduct, laden with gifts, laden with favours, laden with all offices of friendship. What fell out upon it? Being returned into his country, he called a parliament, where all the princes and states of his kingdom being assembled, he showed them the humanity which he had found in us, and therefore wished them to take such course by way of compensation therein as that the whole world might be edified by the example, as well of their honest graciousness to us as of our gracious honesty towards them. The result hereof was, that it was voted and decreed by an unanimous consent, that they should offer up entirely their lands, dominions, and kingdoms, to be disposed of by us according to our pleasure.

Alpharbal in his own person presently returned with nine thousand and thirty-eight great ships of burden, bringing with him the treasures, not only of his house and royal lineage, but almost of all the country besides. For he embarking himself, to set sail with a west-north-east wind, everyone in heaps did cast into the ship gold, silver, rings, jewels, spices, drugs, and aromatical perfumes, parrots, pelicans, monkeys, civet-cats, black-spotted weasels, porcupines, &c. He was accounted no good mother’s son that did not cast in all the rare and precious things he had.

Being safely arrived, he came to my said father, and would have kissed his feet. That action was found too submissively low, and therefore was not permitted, but in exchange he was most cordially embraced. He offered his presents; they were not received, because they were too excessive: he yielded himself voluntarily a servant and vassal, and was content his whole posterity should be liable to the same bondage; this was not accepted of, because it seemed not equitable: he surrendered, by virtue of the decree of his great parliamentary council, his whole countries and kingdoms to him, offering the deed and conveyance, signed, sealed, and ratified by all those that were concerned in it; this was altogether refused, and the parchments cast into the fire. In end, this free goodwill and simple meaning of the Canarians wrought such tenderness in my father’s heart that he could not abstain from shedding tears, and wept most profusely; then, by choice words very congruously adapted, strove in what he could to diminish the estimation of the good offices which he had done them, saying, that any courtesy he had conferred upon them was not worth a rush, and what favour soever he had showed them he was bound to do it. But so much the more did Alpharbal augment the repute thereof. What was the issue? Whereas for his ransom, in the greatest extremity of rigour and most tyrannical dealing, could not have been exacted above twenty times a hundred thousand crowns, and his eldest sons detained as hostages till that sum had been paid, they made themselves perpetual tributaries, and obliged to give us every year two millions of gold at four-and-twenty carats fine. The first year we received the whole sum of two millions; the second year of their own accord they paid freely to us three-and-twenty hundred thousand crowns; the third year, six-and-twenty hundred thousand; the fourth year, three millions, and do so increase it always out of their own goodwill that we shall be constrained to forbid them to bring us any more. This is the nature of gratitude and true thankfulness. For time, which gnaws and diminisheth all things else, augments and increaseth benefits; because a noble action of liberality, done to a man of reason, doth grow continually by his generous thinking of it and remembering it.

Being unwilling therefore any way to degenerate from the hereditary mildness and clemency of my parents, I do now forgive you, deliver you from all fines and imprisonments, fully release you, set you at liberty, and every way make you as frank and free as ever you were before. Moreover, at your going out of the gate, you shall have every one of you three months’ pay to bring you home into your houses and families, and shall have a safe convoy of six hundred cuirassiers and eight thousand foot under the conduct of Alexander, esquire of my body, that the clubmen of the country may not do you any injury. God be with you! I am sorry from my heart that Picrochole is not here; for I would have given him to understand that this war was undertaken against my will and without any hope to increase either my goods or renown. But seeing he is lost, and that no man can tell where nor how he went away, it is my will that his kingdom remain entire to his son; who, because he is too young, he not being yet full five years old, shall be brought up and instructed by the ancient princes and learned men of the kingdom. And because a realm thus desolate may easily come to ruin, if the covetousness and avarice of those who by their places are obliged to administer justice in it be not curbed and restrained, I ordain and will have it so, that Ponocrates be overseer and superintendent above all his governors, with whatever power and authority is requisite thereto, and that he be continually with the child until he find him able and capable to rule and govern by himself.

****

For even as arms are weak abroad, if there be not counsel at home, so is that study vain and counsel unprofitable which in a due and convenient time is not by virtue executed and put in effect. My deliberation is not to provoke, but to appease – not to assault, but to defend – not to conquer, but to preserve my faithful subjects and hereditary dominions, into which Picrochole is entered in a hostile manner without any ground or cause, and from day to day pursueth his furious enterprise with that height of insolence that is intolerable to freeborn spirits. I have endeavoured to moderate his tyrannical choler, offering him all that which I thought might give him satisfaction; and oftentimes have I sent lovingly unto him to understand wherein, by whom, and how he found himself to be wronged. But of him could I obtain no other answer but a mere defiance, and that in my lands he did pretend only to the right of a civil correspondency and good behaviour, whereby I knew that the eternal God hath left him to the disposure of his own free will and sensual appetite – which cannot choose but be wicked, if by divine grace it be not continually guided – and to contain him within his duty, and bring him to know himself, hath sent him hither to me by a grievous token. Therefore, my beloved son, as soon as thou canst, upon sight of these letters, repair hither with all diligence, to succour not me so much, which nevertheless by natural piety thou oughtest to do, as thine own people, which by reason thou mayest save and preserve. The exploit shall be done with as little effusion of blood as may be. And, if possible, by means far more expedient, such as military policy, devices, and stratagems of war, we shall save all the souls, and send them home as merry as crickets unto their own houses. My dearest son, the peace of Jesus Christ our Redeemer be with thee. Salute from me Ponocrates, Gymnastes, and Eudemon. The twentieth of September. Thy Father Grangousier.

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Ann Batten Cristall: Relief for nature, man at war with themselves

January 18, 2020 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Women writers on peace and war

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Ann Batten Cristall
From An Ode

What dire disorder ravages the world!
Beasts, birds, fish, insects, war with cruel strife!
Created matter in contention whirl’d
Spreads desolation as it bursts to life!
And men, who mental light from heaven enjoy,
Pierce the fraternal breast, and impiously destroy.

Unknown, and nothing in the scale of things,
Yet would I wisdom’s ways aloud rehearse,
Touch’d by humanity, strike loud the strings,
And pour a strain of more inspired verse;
But reason, truth, and harmony are vain,
No power man’s boundless passions can restrain.

Stupendous Nature! rugged, beauteous, wild!
Impress’d with awe, thy wondrous book I read:
Beyond this stormy tract, some realm more mild,
My spirit tells me, is for man decreed;
Where, unallay’d, bliss reigns without excess:
Thus hope excentric points to happiness!

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William Shakespeare: Out of speech of peace into harsh tongue of war

January 17, 2020 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

William Shakespeare: Selections on war and peace

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William Shakespeare
From Henry IV, Part 2

LANCASTER
The word of peace is rendered. Hark how they shout.

MOWBRAY
This had been cheerful after victory.

ARCHBISHOP
A peace is of the nature of a conquest,
For then both parties nobly are subdued,
And neither party loser.

****

You, lord archbishop,
Whose see is by a civil peace maintained,
Whose beard the silver hand of peace hath touch’d,
Whose learning and good letters peace hath tutor’d,
Whose white investments figure innocence,
The dove and very blessed spirit of peace,
Wherefore do you so ill translate ourself
Out of the speech of peace that bears such grace,
Into the harsh and boisterous tongue of war;
Turning your books to graves, your ink to blood,
Your pens to lances and your tongue divine
To a trumpet and a point of war?

****

My Lord of York, it better showed with you
When that your flock, assembled by the bell,
Encircled you to hear with reverence
Your exposition on the holy text
Than now to see you here, an iron man talking,
Cheering a rout of rebels with your drum,
Turning the word to sword, and life to death.

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Robert Underwood Johnson: The fairest of daughters, heavenly Peace

January 16, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

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Robert Underwood Johnson
To the Peace Palace at the Hague

Builded of Love and Joy and Faith and Hope,
Thou standest firm beyond the tides of war
That dash in gloom and fear and tempest-roar,
Beacon of Europe! – though wise pilots grope
Where trusted lights are lost; though the dread scope
Of storm is wider, deadlier than before;
Ay, though the very floods that strew the shore
Seem to obey some power turned misanthrope.

For though art witness to a world’s desire,
And when – oh. happiest of days! – shall cease
The throes by which our Age doth bring to birth
The fairest of her daughters, heavenly Peace,
When man’s red folly has been purged in fire,
Though shalt be Capitol of all the Earth.

September 19, 1914

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William Shakespeare: O war, thou son of hell

January 15, 2020 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

William Shakespeare: Selections on war and peace

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William Shakespeare
From Henry IV Part 2

O wondrous him!
O miracle of men! – him did you leave –
Second to none, unseconded by you –
To look upon the hideous god of war
In disadvantage…

O yet, for God’s sake, go not to these wars!

From Henry VI Part 2

Shame and confusion! All is on the rout,
Fear frames disorder, and disorder wounds
Where it should guard. O war, thou son of hell,
Whom angry heavens do make their minister,
Throw in the frozen bosoms of our part
Hot coals of vengeance!

****

From Pericles

What would you have me do? go to the wars, would you? where a man may serve seven years for the loss of a leg, and have not money enough in the end to buy him a wooden one?

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Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen: Soldiers and peasants

January 14, 2020 Leave a comment

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

German writers on peace and war

Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen: The war-god Mars sat over all Europe

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Hans Jakob Christoffel von Grimmelshausen
From Simplicius Simplicissimus

Now when I came home I found that my fireplace and all my poor furniture, together with my store of provisions, which I had grown during the summer in my garden and had kept for the coming winter, were all gone. “And whither now?” thought I. And then first did need teach me heartily to pray: and I must summon all my small wits together, to devise what I should do. But as my knowledge of the world was both small and evil, I could come to no proper conclusion, only that ’twas best to commend myself to God and to put my whole confidence in Him: for otherwise I must perish. And besides all this those things which I had heard and seen that day lay heavy on my mind: and I pondered not so much upon my food and my sustenance as upon the enmity which there is ever between soldiers and peasants. Yet could my foolish mind come to no other conclusion than this – that there must of a surety be two races of men in the world, and not one only, descended from Adam, but two, wild and tame, like other unreasoning beasts, and therefore pursuing one another so cruelly.

With such thoughts I fell asleep, for mere misery and cold, with a hungry stomach. Then it seemed to me, as if in a dream, that all the trees which stood round my dwelling suddenly changed and took on another appearance: for on every tree-top sat a trooper, and the trunks were garnished, in place of leaves, with all manner of folk. Of these, some had long lances, others musquets, hangers, halberts, flags, and some drums and fifes. Now this was merry to see, for all was neatly distributed and each according to his rank. The roots, moreover, were made up of folk of little worth, as mechanics and labourers, mostly, however, peasants and the like; and these nevertheless gave its strength to the tree and renewed the same when it was lost: yea more, they repaired the loss of any fallen leaves from among themselves to their own great damage: and all the time they lamented over them that sat on the tree, and that with good reason, for the whole weight of the tree lay upon them and pressed them so that all the money was squeezed out of their pockets, yea, though it was behind seven locks and keys: but if the money would not out, then did the commissaries so handle them with rods (which thing they call military execution) that sighs came from their heart, tears from their eyes, blood from their nails, and the marrow from their bones. Yet among these were some whom men call light o’ heart; and these made but little ado, took all with a shrug, and in the midst of their torment had, in place of comfort, mockery for every turn.

So must the roots of these trees suffer and endure toil and misery in the midst of trouble and complaint, and those upon the lower boughs in yet greater hardship: yet were these last mostly merrier than the first named, yea and moreover, insolent and swaggering, and for the most part godless folk, and for the roots a heavy unbearable burden at all times. And this was the rhyme upon them:

“Hunger and thirst, and cold and heat, and work and woe, and all we meet;
And deeds of blood and deeds of shame, all may ye put to the landsknecht’s name.”

Which rhymes were the less like to be lyingly invented in that they answered to the facts. For gluttony and drunkenness, hunger and thirst, wenching and dicing and playing, riot and roaring, murdering and being murdered, slaying and being slain, torturing and being tortured, hunting and being hunted, harrying and being harried, robbing and being robbed, frighting and being frighted, causing trouble and suffering trouble, beating and being beaten: in a word, hurting and harming, and in turn being hurt and harmed – this was their whole life. And in this career they let nothing hinder them: neither winter nor summer, snow nor ice, heat nor cold, rain nor wind, hill nor dale, wet nor dry; ditches, mountain-passes, ramparts and walls, fire and water, were all the same to them. Father nor mother, sister nor brother, no, nor the danger to their own bodies, souls, and consciences, nor even loss of life and of heaven itself, or aught else that can be named, will ever stand in their way, for ever they toil and moil at their own strange work, till at last, little by little, in battles, sieges, attacks, campaigns, yea, and in their winter quarters too (which are the soldiers’ earthly paradise, if they can but happen upon fat peasants) they perish, they die, they rot and consume away, save but a few, who in their old age, unless they have been right thrifty reivers and robbers, do furnish us with the best of all beggars and vagabonds.

Next above these hard-worked folk sat old henroost-robbers, who, after some years and much peril of their lives, had climbed up the lowest branches and clung to them, and so far had had the luck to escape death. Now these looked more serious, and somewhat more dignified than the lowest, in that they were a degree higher ascended: yet above them were some yet higher, who had yet loftier imaginings because they had to command the very lowest. And these people did call coat-beaters, because they were wont to dust the jackets of the poor pikemen, and to give the musqueteers oil enough to grease their barrels with.

Just above these the trunk of the tree had an interval or stop, which was a smooth place without branches, greased with all manner of ointments and curious soap of disfavour, so that no man save of noble birth could scale it, in spite of courage and skill and knowledge, God knows how clever he might be. For ’twas polished as smooth as a marble pillar or a steel mirror. Just over that smooth spot sat they with the flags: and of these some were young, some pretty well in years: the young folk their kinsmen had raised so far: the older people had either mounted on a silver ladder which is called the Bribery Backstairs or else on a step which Fortune, for want of a better client, had left for them. A little further up sat higher folk, and these had also their toil and care and annoyance: yet had they this advantage, that they could fill their pokes with the fattest slices which they could cut out of the roots, and that with a knife which they called “War-contribution.” And these were at their best and happiest when there came a commissary-bird flying overhead, and shook out a whole panfull of gold over the tree to cheer them: for of that they caught as much as they could, and let but little or nothing at all fall to the lowest branches: and so of these last more died of hunger than of the enemy’s attacks, from which danger those placed above seemed to be free. Therefore was there a perpetual climbing and swarming going on on those trees; for each would needs sit in those highest and happiest places: yet were there some idle, worthless rascals, not worth their commissariat-bread, who troubled themselves little about higher places, and only did their duty. So the lowest, being ambitious, hoped for the fall of the highest, that they might sit in their place, and if it happened to one among ten thousand of them that he got so far, yet would such good luck come to him only in his miserable old age when he was more fit to sit in the chimney-corner and roast apples than to meet the foe in the field. And if any man dealt honestly and carried himself well, yet was he ever envied by others, and perchance by reason of some unlucky chance of war deprived both of office and of life. And nowhere was this more grievous than at the before-mentioned smooth place on the tree: for there an officer who had had a good sergeant or corporal under him must lose him, however unwillingly, because he was now made an ensign. And for that reason they would take, in place of old soldiers, inkslingers, footmen, overgrown pages, poor noblemen, and at times poor relations, tramps and vagabonds. And these took the very bread out of the mouths of those that had deserved it, and forthwith were made Ensigns.

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Margaret Postgate Cole: They fell, like snowflakes wiping out the noon

January 13, 2020 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Women writers on peace and war

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Margaret Postgate Cole
The Veteran

We came upon him sitting in the sun
Blinded by war, and left. And past the fence
There came young soldiers from the Hand and Flower,
Asking advice of his experience.
And he said this, and that, and told them tales,
And all the nightmares of each empty head
Blew into air; then, hearing us beside,
“Poor chaps, how’d they know what it’s like?” he said.
And we stood there, and watched him as he sat,
Turning his sockets where they went away,
Until it came to one of us to ask “And you’re – how old?”
“Nineteen, the third of May.”

****

The Falling Leaves

Today, as I rode by,
I saw the brown leaves dropping from their tree
In a still afternoon,
When no wind whirled them whistling to the sky,
But thickly, silently,
They fell, like snowflakes wiping out the noon;
And wandered slowly thence
For thinking of a gallant multitude
Which now all withering lay,
Slain by no wind of age or pestilence,
But in their beauty strewed
Like snowflakes falling on the Flemish clay.

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William Shakespeare: O bloody times. When lions war, sons kill fathers, fathers sons

January 12, 2020 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

William Shakespeare: Selections on war and peace

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William Shakespeare
From Henry VI Part Three

Alarum. Enter a Son that has killed his father, dragging in the dead body

Son
Ill blows the wind that profits nobody.
This man, whom hand to hand I slew in fight,
May be possessed with some store of crowns;
And I, that haply take them from him now,
May yet ere night yield both my life and them
To some man else, as this dead man doth me.
Who’s this? O God! it is my father’s face,
Whom in this conflict I unwares have kill’d.
O heavy times, begetting such events!
From London by the king was I press’d forth;
My father, being the Earl of Warwick’s man,
Came on the part of York, press’d by his master;
And I, who at his hands received my life, him
Have by my hands of life bereaved him.
Pardon me, God, I knew not what I did!
And pardon, father, for I knew not thee!
My tears shall wipe away these bloody marks;
And no more words till they have flow’d their fill.

KING HENRY VI
O piteous spectacle! O bloody times!
Whiles lions war and battle for their dens,
Poor harmless lambs abide their enmity.
Weep, wretched man, I’ll aid thee tear for tear;
And let our hearts and eyes, like civil war,
Be blind with tears, and break o’ercharged with grief.

Enter a Father that has killed his son, bringing in the body

Father
Thou that so stoutly hast resisted me,
Give me thy gold, if thou hast any gold:
For I have bought it with an hundred blows.
But let me see: is this our foeman’s face?
Ah, no, no, no, it is mine only son!
Ah, boy, if any life be left in thee,
Throw up thine eye! see, see what showers arise,
Blown with the windy tempest of my heart,
Upon thy words, that kill mine eye and heart!
O, pity, God, this miserable age!
What stratagems, how fell, how butcherly,
Erroneous, mutinous and unnatural,
This deadly quarrel daily doth beget!
O boy, thy father gave thee life too soon,
And hath bereft thee of thy life too late!

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Lucia Trent: Breed, little mothers, breed for the war lords who slaughter your sons

January 11, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

Lucia Trent: Women of War

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Lucia Trent
Breed, Women, Breed

Breed, little mothers,
With tired backs and tired hands,
Breed for the owners of mills and the owners of mines,
Breed a race of danger-haunted men,
A race of toiling, sweating, miserable men,
Breed, little mothers,
Breed for the owners of mills and the owners of mines,
Breed, breed, breed!

Breed, little mothers,
With the sunken eyes and the sagging cheeks,
Breed for the bankers, the crafty and terrible masters of men,
Breed a race of machines,
A race of aenemic, round-shouldered, subway-herded machines!

Breed, little mothers,
With a faith patient and stupid as cattle.
Breed for the war lords,
Offer your woman flesh for incredible torment,
Wrack your frail bodies with the pangs of birth
For the war lords who slaughter your sons!

Breed, little mothers,
Breed for the owners of mills and the owners of mines,
Breed for the bankers, the crafty and terrible masters of men,
Breed for the war lords, the devouring war lords,
Breed, women, breed!

Breed, little mothers
With the tired backs and the tired hands,
Breed for the owners of mills and the owners of mines!
Breed a race of danger-haunted men,
A race of toiling, straining, miserable men,
Breed for the owners of mills and the owners of mines.
Breed, breed, breed!

Breed, little mothers
With the sunken eyes and the sagging cheeks,
Breed for the bankers, the crafty and terrible masters of men!
Breed a race of machines,

A race of anemic, round-shouldered, subway herded machines.
Breed, little mothers,
With a faith patient and stupid as cattle,
Breed for the war-lords!
Offer your woman-flesh for incredible torment,
Rack your frail bodies with the pangs of birth
For the war-lords who strangle your sons!
Breed, little mothers,
Breed for the owners of mills and the owners of mines,
Breed for the bankers, the crafty and terrible masters of men,
Breed for the war-lords, the devouring war-lords,
Breed, women breed!

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William Shakespeare: Soldier, a creature that I teach to fight

January 10, 2020 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

William Shakespeare: Selections on war and peace

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William Shakespeare
From Julius Caesar

OCTAVIUS
You may do your will;
But he’s a tried and valiant soldier.

ANTONY
So is my horse, Octavius; and for that
I do appoint him store of provender:
It is a creature that I teach to fight,
To wind, to stop, to run directly on,
His corporal motion govern’d by my spirit.
And, in some taste, is Lepidus but so;
He must be taught and train’d and bid go forth;
A barren-spirited fellow; one that feeds
On abjects, orts and imitations,
Which, out of use and staled by other men,
Begin his fashion: do not talk of him,
But as a property.

****

From Measure for Measure

First Gentleman
There’s not a soldier of us all, that, in the thanksgiving before meat, do relish the petition well that prays for peace.

Second Gentleman
I never heard any soldier dislike it.

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Jean Lewis Morris: A Patriot I!

January 9, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

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Jean Lewis Morris
A Patriot I!

A patriot I! This is my cry:
Build large each battleship!
Arm a million men! The world defy!
Let darting planes fill the sky
And lesser people feel our grip.

My country has right, by warlike might
The nations of the world
To plunge in nervous fright,
Preparing for the fight
Before war’s declaration’s hurled.

I’m a red-blooded American
Who never from battle ran,
Not a pacifist or saintly faker.

You’ve guessed me right,
I’m in every fight!…
I’m a munition maker.

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François Rabelais: Strictures against war

January 8, 2020 Leave a comment

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

French writers on war and peace

François Rabelais: Born for peace, not warFrançois Rabelais: The magnanimity of peace

François Rabelais: The magnanimity of peace

François Rabelais: Waging war in good earnest

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François Rabelais
From Gargantua and Pantagruel
Translated by Sir Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty

What rage and madness, therefore, doth now incite thee, all old alliance infringed, all amity trod under foot, and all right violated, thus in a hostile manner to invade his country, without having been by him or his in anything prejudiced, wronged, or provoked? Where is faith? Where is law? Where is reason? Where is humanity? Where is the fear of God? Dost thou think that these atrocious abuses are hidden from the eternal spirit and the supreme God who is the just rewarder of all our undertakings? If thou so think, thou deceivest thyself; for all things shall come to pass as in his incomprehensible judgment he hath appointed. Is it thy fatal destiny, or influences of the stars, that would put an end to thy so long enjoyed ease and rest? For that all things have their end and period, so as that, when they are come to the superlative point of their greatest height, they are in a trice tumbled down again, as not being able to abide long in that state. This is the conclusion and end of those who cannot by reason and temperance moderate their fortunes and prosperities…The matter is so unreasonable, and so dissonant from common sense, that hardly can it be conceived by human understanding, and altogether incredible unto strangers, till by the certain and undoubted effects thereof it be made apparent that nothing is either sacred or holy to those who, having emancipated themselves from God and reason, do merely follow the perverse affections of their own depraved nature. If any wrong had been done by us to thy subjects and dominions – if we had favoured thy ill-willers – if we had not assisted thee in thy need – if thy name and reputation had been wounded by us – or, to speak more truly, if the calumniating spirit, tempting to induce thee to evil, had, by false illusions and deceitful fantasies, put into thy conceit the impression of a thought that we had done unto thee anything unworthy of our ancient correspondence and friendship, thou oughtest first to have inquired out the truth, and afterwards by a seasonable warning to admonish us thereof; and we should have so satisfied thee, according to thine own heart’s desire, that thou shouldst have had occasion to be contented. But, O eternal God, what is thy enterprise? Wouldst thou, like a perfidious tyrant, thus spoil and lay waste my master’s kingdom? Hast thou found him so silly and blockish, that he would not – or so destitute of men and money, of counsel and skill in military discipline, that he cannot withstand thy unjust invasion? March hence presently, and to-morrow, some time of the day, retreat unto thine own country, without doing any kind of violence or disorderly act by the way

***
There was there present at that time an old gentleman well experienced in the wars, a stern soldier, and who had been in many great hazards, named Echephron, who, hearing this discourse, said, I do greatly doubt that all this enterprise will be like the tale or interlude of the pitcher full of milk wherewith a shoemaker made himself rich in conceit; but, when the pitcher was broken, he had not whereupon to dine. What do you pretend by these large conquests? What shall be the end of so many labours and crosses? Thus it shall be, said Picrochole, that when we are returned we shall sit down, rest, and be merry. But, said Echephron, if by chance you should never come back, for the voyage is long and dangerous, were it not better for us to take our rest now, than unnecessarily to expose ourselves to so many dangers?

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Margaret Sackville: Who shall deliver us from the memory of these dead?

January 7, 2020 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Women writers on peace and war

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Margaret Sackville
A Memory

There was no sound at all, no crying in the village,
Nothing you would count as sound, that is, after the shells;
Only behind a wall the low sobbing of women,
The creaking of a door, a lost dog – nothing else.

Silence which might be felt, no pity in the silence,
Horrible, soft like blood, down all the blood-stained ways;
In the middle of the street two corpses lie unburied,
And a bayoneted woman stares in the market-place.

Humble and ruined folk – for these no pride of conquest,
Their only prayer: “O! Lord, give us our daily bread!”
Not by the battle fires, the shrapnel are we haunted;
Who shall deliver us from the memory of these dead?

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William Shakespeare: Tame the savage spirit of wild war

January 6, 2020 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

William Shakespeare: Selections on war and peace

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William Shakespeare
From King John

Now for the bare-pick’d bone of majesty
Doth dogged war bristle his angry crest
And snarleth in the gentle eyes of peace:
Now powers from home and discontents at home
Meet in one line; and vast confusion waits,
As doth a raven on a sick-fall’n beast,
The imminent decay of wrested pomp.

****

O, it grieves my soul,
That I must draw this metal from my side
To be a widow-maker!

****

Therefore thy threat’ning colours now wind up,
And tame the savage spirit of wild war;
That, like a lion foster’d up at hand,
It may lie gently at the foot of peace,
And be no further harmful than in show.

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Angela Morgan: In Spite of War

January 5, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

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Angela Morgan
In Spite Of War

In spite of war, in spite of death,
In spite of all man’s sufferings,
Something within me laughs and sings
And I must praise with all my breath.
In spite of war, in spite of hate
Lilacs are blooming at my gate,
Tulips are tripping down the path
In spite of war, in spite of wrath.
“Courage!” the morning-glory saith;
“Rejoice!” the daisy murmureth,
And just to live is so divine
When pansies lift their eyes to mine.

The clouds are romping with the sea,
And flashing waves call back to me
That naught is real but what is fair,
That everywhere and everywhere
A glory liveth through despair.
Though guns may roar and cannon boom,
Roses are born and gardens bloom;
My spirit still may light its flame
At that same torch whence poppies came.
Where morning’s altar whitely burns
Lilies may lift their silver urns
In spite of war, in spite of shame.

And in my ear a whispering breath,
“Wake from the nightmare! Look and see
That life is naught but ecstasy
In spite of war, in spite of death!”

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Adam Lindsay Gordon: Bellona

January 4, 2020 Leave a comment

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

 

Adam Lindsay Gordon
Bellona

Thou art moulded in marble impassive,
False goddess, fair statue of strife,
Yet standest on pedestal massive,
A symbol and token of life.
Thou art still, not with stillness of languor,
And calm, not with calm boding rest;
For thine is all wrath and all anger
That throbs far and near in the breast
Of man, by thy presence possess’d.

With the brow of a fallen archangel,
The lips of a beautiful fiend,
And locks that are snake-like to strangle,
And eyes from whose depths may be glean’d
The presence of passions, that tremble
Unbidden, yet shine as they may
Through features too proud to dissemble,
Too cold and too calm to betray
Their secrets to creatures of clay.

Thy breath stirreth faction and party,
Men rise, and no voice can avail
To stay them – rose-tinted Astarte
Herself at thy presence turns pale.
For deeper and richer the crimson
That gathers behind thee throws forth
A halo thy raiment and limbs on,
And leaves a red track in the path
That flows from thy wine-press of wrath.

For behind thee red rivulets trickle,
Men fall by thy hands swift and lithe,
As corn falleth down to the sickle,
As grass falleth down to the scythe,
Thine arm, strong and cruel, and shapely,
Lifts high the sharp, pitiless lance,
And rapine and ruin and rape lie
Around thee. The Furies advance,
And Ares awakes from his trance.

We, too, with our bodies thus weakly,
With hearts hard and dangerous, thus
We owe thee the saints suffered meekly
Their wrongs it is not so with us.
Some share of thy strength thou hast given

To mortals refusing in vain
Thine aid. We have suffered and striven
Till we have grown reckless of pain,
Though feeble of heart and of brain.

Fair spirit, alluring if wicked,
False deity, terribly real,
Our senses are trapp’d, our souls tricked
By thee and thy hollow ideal.
The soldier who falls in his harness,
And strikes his last stroke with slack hand,
On his dead face thy wrath and thy scorn is
Imprinted. Oh! seeks he a land
Where he shall escape thy command?

When the blood of thy victims lies red on
That stricken field, fiercest and last,
In the sunset that gilds Armageddon
With battle-drift still overcast –
When the smoke of thy hot conflagrations
O’ershadows the earth as with wings,
Where nations have fought against nations,
And kings have encounter’d with kings,
When cometh the end of all things –

Then those who have patiently waited,
And borne, unresisting, the pain
Of thy vengeance unglutted, unsated,
Shall they be rewarded again?
Then those who, enticed by thy laurels,
Or urged by thy promptings unblest,
Have striven and stricken in quarrels,
Shall they, too, find pardon and rest?
We know not, yet hope for the best.

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William Shakespeare: Death of twenty thousand men for fantasy and fame

January 3, 2020 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

William Shakespeare: Selections on war and peace

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William Shakespeare
From Hamlet

HAMLET
Good sir, whose powers are these?

Captain
They are of Norway, sir.

HAMLET
How purposed, sir, I pray you?

Captain
Against some part of Poland.

HAMLET
Who commands them, sir?

Captain
The nephews to old Norway, Fortinbras.

HAMLET
Goes it against the main of Poland, sir,
Or for some frontier?

Captain
Truly to speak, and with no addition,
We go to gain a little patch of ground
That hath in it no profit but the name.
To pay five ducats, five, I would not farm it;
Nor will it yield to Norway or the Pole
A ranker rate, should it be sold in fee.

HAMLET
Why, then the Polack never will defend it.

Captain
Yes, it is already garrison’d.

HAMLET
Two thousand souls and twenty thousand ducats
Will not debate the question of this straw…

****

HAMLET
Witness this army of such mass and charge,
Led by a delicate and tender prince,
Whose spirit, with divine ambition puff’d,
Makes mouths at the invisible event,
Exposing what is mortal and unsure
To all that fortune, death, and danger dare,
Even for an eggshell…

I see
The imminent death of twenty thousand men,
That, for a fantasy and trick of fame,
Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot
Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause,
Which is not tomb enough and continent
To hide the slain?

****

HAMLET
Dost thou think Alexander looked o’ this fashion i’ the earth?

HORATIO
E’en so.

HAMLET
And smelt so? pah!

Puts down the skull

HORATIO
E’en so, my lord.

HAMLET
To what base uses we may return, Horatio! Why may not imagination trace the noble dust of Alexander,
till he find it stopping a bung-hole?

HORATIO
‘Twere to consider too curiously, to consider so.

HAMLET
No, faith, not a jot; but to follow him thither with modesty enough, and likelihood to lead it: as
thus: Alexander died, Alexander was buried, Alexander returneth into dust; the dust is earth; of
earth we make loam; and why of that loam, whereto he was converted, might they not stop a beer-barrel?
Imperious Caesar, dead and turn’d to clay,
Might stop a hole to keep the wind away:
O, that that earth, which kept the world in awe,
Should patch a wall to expel the winter flaw!

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Ida Whipple Benham: The Friend of Peace

January 2, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

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Ida Whipple Benham
The Friend of Peace

He who declares himself of war the foe,
How few he finds who understand his speech!
How many with vague apprehension reach
Midway to listen; but to hear, to know,
Vex not their easy souls! The tinsel show,
The boastful wrath of war, more loudly preach
Than may the poor disciple who would teach
The martial age the Master’s will to know.

“Unpatriotic!” “Treasonable!” “Mad!”
Because he pleads the right of reason’s sway,
And holds the truth as taught by Christ our Lord.
Fierce epithets! But earth shall yet be glad,
Greatly rejoicing that some dare obey
When Christ the King commands, “Put up thy sword!”

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Alfred Tennyson: Ring out the thousand wars of old, ring in the thousand years of peace

December 31, 2019 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Alfred Lord Tennyson: Selections on war and peace

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Alfred Tennyson
Ring Out, Wild Bells (1850)

300_tennyson

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.

Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.

Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.

Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.

Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.

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Martha Foote Crow: There is no Christ left in all those carnage-loving lands

December 31, 2019 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

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Martha Foote Crow
The Wooden Christ

At the high ridge
Of a wide war-stricken realm
There stands an ancient wooden Christ.

Hollow the tottering image towers,
Eyeless and rotten, and decrepit there,
His smile a cruel twist.
Within the empty heart of this old Christ
Small stinging insects build their nests;
And iron-hearted soldiers cross themselves
The while they pass
The hollow-hearted figure by.

I think there is no Christ left there
In all those carnage-loving lands
Save only this of hollow wood
With wasp nests
Hiving in its heart.

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William Shakespeare: Selections on war and peace

December 30, 2019 Leave a comment
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Derrick Norman Lehmer: Militarism

December 29, 2019 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

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Derrick Norman Lehmer
Militarism

Like molten lava down the mountain steep
I poured my myriad armies on their land;
I reaped fertile fields with flaming brand;
I trod their cities to a smoking heap.
Bleating before me like a flock of sheep
Harried by wolves, a timid wailing band,
I drove their villagers with iron hand;
Laughed at their tears, laughed at their curses deep.

And now defeated, desolate I stand
Lone in the desert. All about me sweep
The ghostly winds. My place is in the sun –
But where are my armies? Soon the sand
Will sink me in oblivion. I shall sleep
With Nineveh, with Tyre and Babylon.

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Joaquin Miller: The People’s Song of Peace

December 28, 2019 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

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Joaquin Miller
The People’s Song of Peace

The grass is green on Bunker Hill,
The waters sweet in Brandywine;
The sword sleeps in the scabbard still,
The farmer keeps his flock and vine;
Then who would mar the scene today
With vaunt of battlefield or fray?

The brave corn lifts in regiments
Ten thousand sabres in the sun;
The ricks replace the battle-tents,
The bannered tassels toss and run.
The neighing steed, the bugle’s blast,
These be but stories of the past.

The earth has healed her wounded breast,
The cannons plough the field no more;
The heroes rest! O, let them rest
In peace along the peaceful shore!
They fought for peace, for peace they fell;
They sleep in peace, and all is well.

The fields forget the battles fought,
The trenches wave in golden grain;
Shall we neglect the lessons taught,
And tear the wounds agape again?
Sweet Mother Nature, nurse the land,
And heal her wounds with gentle hand.

Lo! peace on earth! Lo! flock and fold!
Lo! rich abundance, fat increase,
And valleys clad in sheen of gold!
O rise and sing a song of peace!
For Theseus roams the land no more,
And Janus rests with rusted door.

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Julia Tetwiler: Send the war-fiend back to Hell whence he came

December 27, 2019 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

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Julia Tetwiler
Let Our Banner Be Thine

O, this world has grown weary of battle and strife;
She is weary of death; she is longing for life.
And here is her glory Columbia stands,
A star on her brow and a lamp in her hands.
She will guide, she will lead and illumine the way;
Till the nations of earth are all brothers for aye.

O, ye angels who once upon Bethlehem’s plain
Sang of peace upon earth and goodwill unto man,
Come, descend in compassion once more unto earth,
And renew in our hearts the miraculous birth.
Bid the war-fiend for aye cease his terrible game,
And send back the demon to Hell whence he came.

Let our banner be Thine, Prince of Peace and of Love;
On its staff, for the eagle, thy baptismal dove;
Let the stars in its folds but betoken the one
That led the Wise Men to the cradle – thy throne;
And the stripes of bright crimson declare thou has bled,
That man’s blood by man’s hand nevermore shall be shed.

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William Shakespeare: Blessed is the peacemaker

December 26, 2019 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

William Shakespeare: Selections on war and peace

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William Shakespeare
From Coriolanus

CORIOLANUS
The honour’d gods
Keep Rome in safety, and the chairs of justice
Supplied with worthy men! plant love among ’s!
Throng our large temples with the shows of peace,
And not our streets with war!

****

VOLUMNIA
Nay, go not from us thus.
If it were so that our request did tend
To save the Romans, thereby to destroy
The Volsces whom you serve, you might condemn us,
As poisonous of your honour: no; our suit
Is that you reconcile them: while the Volsces
May say ‘This mercy we have show’d;’ the Romans,
‘This we received;’ and each in either side
Give the all-hail to thee and cry ‘Be blest
For making up this peace!’ Thou know’st, great son,
The end of war’s uncertain…

****

[The sounds of peace]

SECOND MESSENGER
Good news, good news; the ladies have prevail’d,
The Volscians are dislodged, and Marcius gone:
A merrier day did never yet greet Rome,
No, not the expulsion of the Tarquins.

SICINIUS
Friend,
Art thou certain this is true? is it most certain?

Second messenger
As certain as I know the sun is fire:
Where have you lurk’d, that you make doubt of it?
Ne’er through an arch so hurried the blown tide,
As the recomforted through the gates. Why, hark you!

Trumpets; hautboys; drums beat; all together

The trumpets, sackbuts, psalteries and fifes,
Tabours and cymbals and the shouting Romans,
Make the sun dance. Hark you!

 

 

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Martha Shepard Lippincott: Nations now for mammon fight

December 25, 2019 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

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Martha Shepard Lippincott
The World’s Crisis

“Peace be on earth,” O Jesus, Lord,
Where is the mercy thou hast taught?
It seems the mission of thy life
The sinful world hath not yet caught.
‘Tis seeking still the calf of gold,
And sacrificing lives to it.
How shall we answer for such waste
When at the judgment seat we sit?

The universal brotherhood
That thou wouldst have mankind to feel
Is turned to jarring enmity,
When we at mammon’s altar kneel.
Then strife and crime and war combine
To send their horrors to the world,
And men forget the flag of peace
That thou dost so desire unfurled.

The mind of mankind seems on fire
And burning to acquire vast wealth,
While love and happiness and peace
Will disappear as if by stealth.
Men kill each other for their wealth,
And nations now for mammon fight,
Forgetting all God’s higher laws,
As they their nation’s honor blight.

Will selfishness destruction cause,
Or will the nations cease to fight
Ere they have lost the power to see,
And follow in the Father’s light?
Let them regain their trust in thee,
Dear Christ, and learn thy loving ways,
Then earth will find its sin removed,
And blessed will be with peaceful days.

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Maria Briscoe Croker: War and Peace

December 24, 2019 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

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Maria Briscoe Croker
War and Peace

How can we sing the angels’ song,
When half the world looms large with fearful strife,
And where sweet Peace her blessings once bestowed
Loud sounds the fierce demand of life for life?

The lilies of fair France are stained with blood,
Her peaceful fields are bristling ranks of spears,
And low before her desolated altar shrines
Sad mothers weep their unavailing tears.

The stalwart German by the river’s side,
Gives up his young life for the fatherland,
And thousands like him offer up their all
To meet the dreadful toll of War’s demands.

At sight of these the angels fold their wings –
Lord, haste the time when War and Strife shall cease;
When Love shall rise triumphant over Hate,
And Christendom rejoice in universal Peace!

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Lydia Sigourney: Peace was the song the angels sang

December 23, 2019 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

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Lydia Sigourney
Peace

Peace was the song the angels sang
When Jesus sought this vale of tears;
And sweet the heavenly prelude rang
To calm the watchful shepherds’ fears.
War is the word that man has spoke,
Convulsed by passions, dark and dread;
And pride enforced a lawless yoke
E’en where the Gospel’s banner spread.

Peace was the prayer the Savior breathed,
When from our world his steps withdrew;
The gift he to his friends bequeathed,
With Calvary and the cross in view.
Redeemer, with adoring love
Our spirits take thy rich bequest;
The watchword of the host above,
The passport to their realms of rest.

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William Shakespeare: Never a war did cease…with such a peace

December 22, 2019 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

William Shakespeare: Selections on war and peace

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William Shakespeare
From Cymbeline

The fear’s as bad as falling; the toil o’ the war,
A pain that only seems to seek out danger
I’ the name of fame and honour; which dies i’ the search,
And hath as oft a slanderous epitaph
As record of fair act; nay, many times,
Doth ill deserve by doing well…

****

Soothsayer
The fingers of the powers above do tune
The harmony of this peace…

CYMBELINE
Laud we the gods;
And let our crooked smokes climb to their nostrils
From our blest altars. Publish we this peace
To all our subjects. Set we forward: let
A Roman and a British ensign wave
Friendly together: so through Lud’s-town march:
And in the temple of great Jupiter
Our peace we’ll ratify; seal it with feasts.
Set on there! Never was a war did cease,
Ere bloody hands were wash’d, with such a peace.

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François Rabelais: Born for peace, not war

December 21, 2019 Leave a comment

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

French writers on war and peace

François Rabelais: The magnanimity of peace

François Rabelais: Strictures against war

François Rabelais: Waging war in good earnest

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François Rabelais
From Gargantua and Pantagruel
Translated by Sir Thomas Urquhart of Cromarty

The time is not now as formerly, to conquer the kingdoms of our neighbour princes, and to build up our own greatness upon the loss of our nearest Christian Brother. This imitation of the ancient Herculeses, Alexanders, Hannibals, Scipios, Caesars, and other such heroes, is quite contrary to the profession of the gospel of Christ, by which we are commanded to preserve, keep, rule, and govern every man his own country and lands, and not in a hostile manner to invade others; and that which heretofore the Barbars and Saracens called prowess and valour, we do now call robbing, thievery, and wickedness. It would have been more commendable in him to have contained himself within the bounds of his own territories, royally governing them, than to insult and domineer in mine, pillaging and plundering everywhere like a most unmerciful enemy; for, by ruling his own with discretion, he might have increased his greatness, but by robbing me he cannot escape destruction. Go your ways in the name of God, prosecute good enterprises, show your king what is amiss, and never counsel him with regard unto your own particular profit, for the public loss will swallow up the private benefit. As for your ransom, I do freely remit it to you, and will that your arms and horse be restored to you; so should good neighbours do, and ancient friends, seeing this our difference is not properly war. As Plato, Lib. 5 de Repub., would not have it called war, but sedition, when the Greeks took up arms against one another, and that therefore, when such combustions should arise amongst them, his advice was to behave themselves in the managing of them with all discretion and modesty. Although you call it war, it is but superficial; it entereth not into the closet and inmost cabinet of our hearts. For neither of us hath been wronged in his honour, nor is there any question betwixt us in the main, but only how to redress, by the bye, some petty faults committed by our men, – I mean, both yours and ours, which, although you knew, you ought to let pass; for these quarrelsome persons deserve rather to be contemned than mentioned, especially seeing I offered them satisfaction according to the wrong.

***

These devilish kings which we have here are but as so many calves; they know nothing and are good for nothing but to do a thousand mischiefs to their poor subjects, and to trouble all the world with war for their unjust and detestable pleasure.

***

Nature, nevertheless, did not after that manner provide for the sempiternizing of (the) human race; but, on the contrary, created man naked, tender, and frail, without either offensive or defensive arms; and that in the estate of innocence, in the first age of all, which was the golden season; not as a plant, but living creature, born for peace, not war, and brought forth into the world with an unquestionable right and title to the plenary fruition and enjoyment of all fruits and vegetables, as also to a certain calm and gentle rule and dominion over all kinds of beasts, fowls, fishes, reptiles, and insects. Yet afterwards it happening in the time of the iron age, under the reign of Jupiter, when, to the multiplication of mischievous actions, wickedness and malice began to take root and footing within the then perverted hearts of men, that the earth began to bring forth nettles, thistles, thorns, briars, and such other stubborn and rebellious vegetables to the nature of man. Nor scarce was there any animal which by a fatal disposition did not then revolt from him, and tacitly conspire and covenant with one another to serve him no longer, nor, in case of their ability to resist, to do him any manner of obedience, but rather, to the uttermost of their power, to annoy him with all the hurt and harm they could. The man, then, that he might maintain his primitive right and prerogative, and continue his sway and dominion over all, both vegetable and sensitive creatures, and knowing of a truth that he could not be well accommodated as he ought without the servitude and subjection of several animals, bethought himself that of necessity he must needs put on arms, and make provision of harness against wars and violence.

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Robert Sherwood: War is essentially a false, hideous mistake

December 20, 2019 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

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Robert Sherwood
From review of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

In a hundred or so years there will be no one left in the world who can give a first-hand account of the great war – no one who can say, “I was there; I saw it as it was” – and people will have to get their knowledge of it from books and plays that it inspired. The vast maelstrom which has flowed since the machine guns and the typewriters first started clicking in 1914 will remain, in a greater or less degree, throughout all time, and by them will we and our actions be measured.

It is quite important, therefore, that we get the record straight, and make sure that nothing goes down to posterity which will mislead future generations into believing that this age of ours was anything to brag about. Imagine the history that some H.G. Wells of the Thirtieth Century would write concerning the world war, basing his conclusions on such books as “From Baseball to Boches,” such plays as “Mother’s Liberty Bonds,” or such songs as “Hello, General Pershing, Is My Daddie Safe To-night?” It might be entertaining reading, but hardly instructive.

Rather let us hope this future Wells would depend upon the books of Philip Gibbs and Henri Barbusse, and the poems of Rupert Brooke, Alan Seeger and John MacRae. And if, after reading these, he is still doubtful of the fact war is essentially a false, hideous mistake, then let them see the production of “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” and be convinced.

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Anna M. Whitney: The Call for Peace

December 19, 2019 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

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Anna M. Whitney
The Call for Peace

The Muscovite has heard it ringing clear
Above the din of nations and of fear;
“Behold! the Eternal Right
Is no more the slave of Might.
And the earth shall find relief
In my Peace!”

The cosmic forces rent the world in twain,
When the Immortal Spring gushed forth on Bethlehem’s plain.
But along its silver stream
The tented armies gleam,
And the flood of life is red
With their dead.

Through darkest plains of heathenness it glides,
In medieval fastnesses it bides;
Like Arethusa’s fount
To the light of day shall mount.
When the cruel hearts of men
Turn again.

The thought of man is sickened with the insensate past,
And the dawn is brightening with a glory that shall last,
For the vision of night
Shall at last be read aright,
And love shall conquer loss
By the cross.

No more the warrior clutching at his foes,
Reeking with hate into the Presence goes.
Many deaths there be to die,
Worst of all to vilify
Love of Fatherland
By a murdering hand.

Vain to worship under cross and dome
Unless mankind be brothers in one home;
The universe a folding wing
To guard the helpless and to fling
A note of hope and might
Into the night.

O blessed are the feet of them that bring
Good tidings of the coming joy, that sing
The sheathing of the deadly sword,
The tranquil empire of the Lord,
The Peace he, leaving gives,
And giving, leaves.

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Fanny Bixby Spencer: The shame of the cannonade

December 18, 2019 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

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Fanny Bixby Spencer
Nothing

There is nothing ahead on the scarlet path,
For wilted the glories fade
When stands revealed to the lightest mind
The shame of the cannonade.

There are nothing but shrouds in your knitting hands,
O women. Look up and see
That the death-forged shackles of crumbling time
Are the bonds of your loyalty.

There is nothing to gain from the belching guns
That deadlock the riven earth;
For nothing but hell is the mad exchange
For the boon of an age-long dearth.

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Shakespeare: On driving a husband to none-sparing war

December 17, 2019 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

William Shakespeare: Selections on war and peace

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William Shakespeare
From All’s Well That Ends Well

Poor lord! is’t I
That chase thee from thy country and expose
Those tender limbs of thine to the event
Of the none-sparing war? and is it I
That drive thee from the sportive court, where thou
Wast shot at with fair eyes, to be the mark
Of smoky muskets? O you leaden messengers,
That ride upon the violent speed of fire,
Fly with false aim; move the still-peering air,
That sings with piercing; do not touch my lord.
Whoever shoots at him, I set him there;
Whoever charges on his forward breast,
I am the caitiff that do hold him to’t;
And, though I kill him not, I am the cause
His death was so effected: better ’twere
I met the ravin lion when he roar’d
With sharp constraint of hunger; better ’twere
That all the miseries which nature owes
Were mine at once. No, come thou home, Rousillon,
Whence honour but of danger wins a scar,
As oft it loses all…

“Bless him at home in peace, whilst I from far
His name with zealous fervor sanctify:
His taken labours bid him me forgive;
I, his despiteful Juno, sent him forth
From courtly friends, with camping foes to live,
Where death and danger dogs the heels of worth:
He is too good and fair for death and me…”

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Mary Chandler: The noise of war is hushed

December 16, 2019 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Women writers on peace and war

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Mary Chandler
From To Mrs. Stephens

What grateful thoughts those awful camps inspire!
Once a dread scene of blood, and war, and fire;
When conquering Romans sat in triumph there,
And death flew hissing through the ‘frighted air.
The slaughter’d natives spread the valleys wide,
And drenched the meadows with a crimson tide.
Now Peace her downy wings spread o’er the scene,
The camp lies harmless on the level green,
The noise of war is hushed, and all a sweet serene.
***
How peace and joy from silent order flow!
With cheerful health and friendship ever crowned,
And deal out blessing to the country round!

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John Werge: Battle in hell if war ye must

December 15, 2019 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

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John Werge
From War and Peace
Or, Two Aspects of the World

Awake! ye armour’d dead! awake,
Ye fallen hosts, and shake
The blood-stained ashes of your graves
From off your heads! ye slaves,
Awake! look up, and see the world
With war’s red banner furled!
Awake ye sanguinary crowds
Of living men, ye clouds
Of sanctioned murderers, stand back;
The time has come for rack
Of war, and battle’s blood fields
To cease. Hang up your shields,
Your swords and guns, with sharpened steel;
Your colours torn conceal;
Blot out the names of battles fought;
Let not a single thought
Of victories won or contests lost,
Disturb your breasts. A host
Of nobler, grander motives spring
To life, and like the King
Of Kings, benignly glance around,
With eyes and sense unbound
By passion, aggrandizement, love
Of conquest great, above
Such sordid, mad, tempestuous strife –
Imbued with love of life and heavenly deeds!
Stand back, ye hosts!
Armed to the teeth. Like ghosts
Sink into earth and disappear
For ever, – and for ever here
Let peace he peace. No more the din
Of battle; nor the sin
Of wholesale slaughter shock the sense
Of man – of God. Fly hence –
Go where ye will: if still intent
On war, find him who rent
The peace of heaven, – go battle there,
If war ye must; and where
So fit a place to fight as hell?

Categories: Uncategorized

Barbara Young: Peace is not bought with dead men slain

December 14, 2019 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

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Barbara Young
The Little Stones
Remembering a First Sight of the Arlington National Cemetery

I saw them shining in the sun,
The little stones of Arlington;
The endless rows of snowy stones,
As cold as death, as white as bones.

My eyes went counting, and I said:
“Here lies a world of early dead;
A buried world of light and love.
And who shall count the cost thereof?”

I saw strange shapes that seemed to pass
Like ghosts upon the early grass,
Like spectres marching, one by one,
The little stones of Arlington.

I heard a fife; I heard a drum.
I heard a bugle calling “Come!”
A thousand thousand soundless feet
Went tramping down a ghostly street.

A thousand thousand restless heads
Were lifted from their earthy beds;
And blood flowed out; I saw it run
Upon the stones of Arlington.

A thousand thousand tortured eyes
Looked up unto the silent skies;
And to my ears there came a sound
Of voices from the silent ground.

“It is not meet that men should die
With fire and sword,” the dead men cry.
“The bitter price is paid in vain.
Peace is not bought with dead men slain.”

I heard the words like clanging bells,
I saw the battles and the hells,
The rainy roads, the darkened sun.
I saw the stones of Arlington.

Tomorrow bits of silk will wave
Above the grass on every grave,
And blossoms plucked and borne with love.
And who shall count the cost thereof?

It is enough. Let men no more
Spill blood of men on any shore;
Nor smoke of battle cloud the sun;
And no more stones in Arlington.

Categories: Uncategorized

100 Women Writers on Peace and War

December 13, 2019 4 comments

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

Women writers on peace and war (with regular additions)

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100 Women Writers on Peace and War

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Maria Abdy: May the gentle Dove of Peace extend her snowy pinions o’er us

Lucy Aikin: Gentle Peace with healing hand returns

Lucy Aikin: Sickening I turn on yonder plain to mourn the widows and the slain

Ellen P. Allerton: Peace After War

Joanna Baillie: And shall we think of war? 

Joanna Baillie: Do children return from rude jarring war?

Joanna Baillie: Thy native land, freed from the ills of war, a land of peace!

H. Lavinia Baily: By the Sea. An Argument for Peace.

Isabella Banks: Absolve our souls from blood shed in our country’s cause

Isabella Banks: The bugle of war, the bugle of peace

Isabella Banks: “Glory, glory, glory!” As if murder were not sin!

Isabella Banks: Lay down weapons, war should cease

Anna Laetitia Barbauld: Peace and Shepherd

Anna Laetitia Barbauld: The storm of horrid war rolls dreadful on

Anna Laetitia Barbauld: War’s least horror is th’ ensanguined field

Charlotte Alington Barnard: Peace Hovers

Katherine Lee Bates: Children of the War

Aphra Behn: No rough sound of war’s alarms

Aphra Behn: The pen triumphs over the sword

Adelaide George Bennett: The Peace-Pipe Quarry

Elizabeth Bentley: On the return of celestial peace

Elizabeth Bentley: Terror-striking War shalt be banish’d far

Matilda Betham: All the horrid charms of war

Susanna Blamire: When the eye sees the grief that from one battle flows, small cause of triumph can the bravest feel

Mathilde Blind: All vile things that batten on disaster follow feasting in the wake of war

Mathilde Blind: Reaping War’s harvest grim and gory

Mathilde Blind: Widowing the world of men to win the world

Jane Bowdler: War’s deadly futility

Vera Mary Brittain: August, 1914

Elizabeth Barrett Browning: Exalt the name of Peace and leave those rusty wars that eat the soul

Elizabeth Barrett Browning: War’s human harvest

Caroline Clive: The bloody words of ruffian war

Elizabeth Cobbold: Earth’s bosom drenching with her children’s blood

Mary Elizabeth Coleridge: Lilies and Doves

Eliza Cook: Selections on peace and war

Eliza Cook: Crimson battlefield. When the world shall be spread with tombless dead.

Eliza Cook: I felt a shuddering horror lurk, to think I’d mingled in such work

Eliza Cook: No bloodstain lingers there. The plough and the spear.

Eliza Cook: Not where bullet, sword, and shield lie strown with the gory slain

Eliza Cook: Who can love the laurel wreath, plucked from the gory field of death?

Isabella Valancy Crawford: The Forging of the Sword

Isabella Valancy Crawford: War

Charlotte Dacre: Peace

Charlotte Dacre: War

Emily Dickinson: I many times thought Peace had come

Augusta Theodosia Drane: It needs must be that gentle Peace prevail!

Marguerite Duras: The civilizing mission

George Eliot: Tart rebuke of crude war propaganda

Emma Catherine Embury: Proud soldier turns from scenes of war

Maria Louise Eve: Disarm!

Laura Bell Everett: The Skein of Grievous War

Eleanor Farjeon: Now that you too join the vanishing armies

Eleanor Farjeon: Peace Poem

Marianne Farningham: Give Peace

Anne Finch: Enquiry After Peace

Mary Weston Fordham: Ode to Peace

Margaret Fuller: America, with no prouder emblem than the Dove

Charlotte Perkins Gilman: The Flag of Peace

Ellen Glasgow: Selections on war

Ellen Glasgow: The Altar of the War God

Ellen Glasgow: His vision of the future only an endless warfare and a wasted land

Ellen Glasgow: The Reign of the Brute

Ellen Glasgow: “That killed how many? how many?”

Ellen Glasgow: Then the rows of dead men stared at him through the falling rain in the deserted field

Hala Jean Hammond: War’s black hatred

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper: Do Not Cheer, Men Are Dying

Felicia Hemans: Selections on peace and war

Felicia Hemans: Say to the hurricane of war, – “Be still”

Felicia Hemans: Speak not of death, till thou hast looked on such

Felicia Hemans: A thousand voices echo “Peace!”

Felicia Hemans: Thousands doomed to moan, condemned by war to hopeless grief unknown

Felicia Hemans: War and Peace

Felicia Hemans: War has still ravaged o’er the blasted plain

Mary Heron: Bid brazen-throated war and discord cease

Mary Heron: Ode on the General Peace

Martha Lavinia Hoffman: The Song of Peace

Julia Ward Howe: Mother’s Day Proclamation 1870

Jean Ingelow: And the dove said, “Give us peace!”

Jean Ingelow: Methought the men of war were even as gods

Ellen Key: Overcoming the madness of a world at war

Harriet King: Life is Peace

Zofia Kossak: Every creature has its day. War and crocodiles.

Selma Lagerlöf: The Fifth Commandment. The Great Beast is War.

Selma Lagerlöf: The mark of death was on them all

Vernon Lee: Satan’s rules of war

Lily Alice Lefevre: The Bridge of Peace

Marie Lenéru: War is not human fate

Isabella Lickbarrow: Invocation To Peace

Amy Lowell: A pattern called a war. Christ! What are patterns for?

Caroline Atherton Mason: Enemy, oh, let our warfare cease!

Alice Meynell: The true slayers are those who sire soldiers

Edna St. Vincent Millay: Conscientious Objector

Emily Huntington Miller: Hymn of Peace

Ruth Comfort Mitchell: He Went for a Soldier

Mary Russell Mitford: Sheath thy gory blade in peace

Marianne Moore: I must fight till I have conquered in myself what causes war

Hannah More: War

Lilika Nakos: Selections on war

Lilika Nakos: The dead man, the living, the house; all were smashed to bits

Lilika Nakos: Do I know what makes men kill each other?

Lilika Nakos: Do you think the war will ever end?

Lilika Nakos: The grandmother’s sin

Lilika Nakos: “Surely God didn’t intend this butchery”

Lilika Nakos: “What’s the war got to do with God?”

Adela Florence Nicolson: Doubtless feasted the jackal and the kite

Sara Louisa Oberholtzer: The dawn of peace is breaking!

Zoé Oldenbourg: War provides a feast for the vultures

Amelia Opie: Grant, Heaven, those tears may be the last that war, detested war, shall cause!

Frances Sargent Osgood: Peace and the olive branch

Lori Petri: Battleships

Adelaide A. Procter: Let carnage cease and give us peace!

Charlotte Richardson: Once more let war and discord cease

Mary Robinson: Selections on war

Mary Robinson: Anticipate the day when ruthless war shall cease to desolate

Mary Robinson: Dread-destructive power of war

Mary Robinson: Impetuous War, the lord of slaughter

Mary Robinson: The soldier sheds, for gold, a brother’s blood

Mary Robinson: Spread once more the fostering rays of Peace

Mary Robinson: The wise shall bid, too late, the sacred olive rise

Christina Rossetti: They reap a red crop from the field. O Man, put up thy sword.

Gabrielle Roy: This was the hope that was uplifting mankind once again: to do away with war

Vita Sackville-West: Man’s war on his fellow creatures

George Sand: Trader in uniformed flesh and the religion of self

Olive Schreiner: Give me back my dead!

Olive Schreiner: The bestiality and insanity of war

Anna Seghers: War enthusiasm, brewed from equal parts of age-old memories and total oblivion

Anna Seward: Fierce War has wing’d the arrow that wounds my soul’s repose

Mary Shelley: The fate of the world bound up with the death of a single man

Kate Brownlee Sherwood: This one soft whisper – Peace

Louise Morgan Sill: I am the Hell-god, War!

Edith Sitwell: Dirge for the New Sunrise

M. B. Smedley: Where is the ministry of peace?

Charlotte Turner Smith: The lawless soldiers’ victims

Charlotte Turner Smith: Statesmen! ne’er dreading a scar, let loose the demons of war

Charlotte Turner Smith: Thus man spoils Heaven’s glorious works with blood!

Charlotte Turner Smith: To bathe his savage hands in human blood

Madame de Staël: Voting for war, pronouncing their own death sentence

Sara Teasdale: Spring in War-Time

Edith Matilda Thomas: Air war: They are not humans.

Edith Matilda Thomas: The Altar of Moloch

Lucia Trent: Women of War

Lesya Ukrainka: Do you understand that word called war?

Rebecca West: The dreams of Englishwomen during war

Phillis Wheatley: From every tongue celestial Peace resounds

Margaret Widdemer: After War

Ellen Wheeler Wilcox: The Paean of Peace

Ella Wheeler Wilcox: A Plea To Peace

Jane Wilde: Peace with the Olive, and Mercy with the Palm

Helen Maria Williams: Heaven-born peace

Helen Maria Williams: Now burns the savage soul of war

Sarah Williams: Groaning for him they slew

Margaret L. Woods: The forgotten slain

Ann Yearsley: The anarchy of war

Marguerite Yourcenar: Fruits of war are food for new wars

Categories: Uncategorized

Ruth Comfort Mitchell: He Went for a Soldier

December 12, 2019 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

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Ruth Comfort Mitchell
He Went for a Soldier

He marched away with a blithe young score of him
With the first volunteers,
Clear-eyed and clean and sound to the core of him,
Blushing under the cheers.
They were fine, new flags that swung a-flying there,
Oh, the pretty girls he glimpsed a-crying there,
Pelting him with pinks and with roses
Billy, the Soldier Boy!

Not very clear in the kind young heart of him
What the fuss was about,
But the flowers and the flags seemed part of him –
The music drowned his doubt.
It’s a fine, brave sight they were a-coming there
To the gay, bold tune they kept a-drumming there,
While the boasting fifes shrilled jauntily –
Billy, the Soldier Boy!

Soon he is one with the blinding smoke of it –
Volley and curse and groan:
Then he has done with the knightly joke of it –
It’s rending flesh and bone.

There are pain-crazed animals a-shrieking there
And a warm blood stench that is a-reeking there;
He fights like a rat in a corner –
Billy, the Soldier Boy!

There he lies now, like a ghoulish score of him,
Left on the field for dead:
The ground all around is smeared with the gore of him
Even the leaves are red.
The Thing that was Billy lies a-dying there,
Writhing and a-twisting and a-crying there;
A sickening sun grins down on him –
Billy, the Soldier Boy!

Still not quite clear in the poor, wrung heart of him
What the fuss was about,
See where he lies – or a ghastly part of him –
While life is oozing out:
There are loathsome things he sees a-crawling there;
There are hoarse-voiced crows he hears a-calling there,
Eager for the foul feast spread for them –
Billy, the Soldier Boy!

How much longer, O Lord, shall we bear it all?
How many more red years?
Story it and glory it and share it all,
In seas of blood and tears?
They are braggart attitudes we’ve worn so long;
They are tinsel platitudes we’ve sworn so long –
We who have turned the Devil’s Grindstone,
Borne with the hell called War!

Categories: Uncategorized

Margaret Widdemer: After War

December 11, 2019 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

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Margaret Widdemer
After War

The king has a stronger crown,
And the lines of the land are new,
New walls are piled where the old went down
And other flags over wall and town
Blow where the old flags blew –
(Little son! little son!
Your broken toys and your broken gun
Are all I have left of you.)

The girls that you used to know
Go by in the sunset light
But nevermore with them to and fro
A lad goes by as he used to go
(Little son! little son!
Your blithe young ghost from a time that’s done
Is all I can see tonight!)

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The Wakened God

The War-God wakened drowsily;
There were gold chains about his hands.
He said: “And who shall reap my lands
And bear the tithes to Death for me?

“The nations stilled my thunderings;
They wearied of my steel despair,
The flames from out my burning hair:
Is there an ending of such things?”

Low laughed the Earth, and answered: “When
Was any changeless law I gave
Changed by my sons intent to save,
By puny pitying hands of men?

“I feel no ruth for some I bear…
The swarming, hungering overflow
Of crowded millions, doomed to go,
They must destroy who chained you there.

“For some bright stone or shining praise
They stint a million bodies’ breath,
And sell the women, shamed, to death,
And send the men brief length of days.

“They kill the bodies swift for me,
And kill the souls you gave to peace…
You were more merciful than these,
Old master of my cruelty.

“Lo, souls are scarred and virtues dim:
Take back thy scourge of ministry,
Rise from thy silence suddenly,
Lest these still take Death’s toll to him!”

The War-God snapped his golden chain:
His mercies thundered down the world,
And lashing battle-lines uncurled
And scourged the crouching lands again.

Categories: Uncategorized

Isabella Lickbarrow: Invocation To Peace

December 10, 2019 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Women writers on peace and war

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Isabella Lickbarrow
Invocation To Peace

O gentle Peace! celestial visitant!
Thou friend to virtue, charity, and love,
Whose smile can make a paradise on earth,
Without whose presence heav’n could not be blest,
How long has thy inexorable foe,
That fiend unblest, Ambition, banish’d thee,
Chas’d thee a fugitive from clime to clime,
And made thee roam a pilgrim o’er the world?
Say, beauteous wand’rer, in what distant spot,
What lonely isle amid the unbounded main,
Hast thou a temporary shelter found?
Where, like the fabled goddess sung of old,
To wand’ring nations and to savage tribes
Thou teachest how to till th’ uncultur’d soil,
And all the useful arts of polish’d life;
Or still remembering Europe’s fairer realms,
Upon some rocky promontory’s brow
Pensive thou sit’st, bending a list’ning ear
Towards the distant shores, and only hear’st
Unwelcome sounds, discordant din of arms,
Like murmuring thunder, wafted o’er the waves;
While in thy swelling bosom heaves the sigh,
And from thy glist’ning eye descends the tear,
In pity for the ills her sons endure.
Return, fair stranger, to those realms again,
Return to heal the wounds which war has made;
Come, and on Europe’s plains the olive plant;
Beneath its friendly shade, the purple vine
Shall brighter bloom, the harvest richer glow,
And greater plenty crown the rolling year.
Oh come! on Albion’s plains for ever dwell,
Thy sacred temple let our island be,
Then arts and manufactures would revive,
And happy Industry rejoice again;
Then friendly Commerce would unfurl her sails,
No hostile natives, arm’d with bolts of death,
Would meet in dreadful conflict on the deep,
But freighted vessels, laden with the fruits
Of ev’ry varied clime, would crowd our ports,
And flags of ev’ry land wave round our shores
In social harmony, a glorious sight –
To generous minds, yielding more genuine joy,
Than dearly purchas’d trophies won by war
From ev’ry different region of the globe.

Categories: Uncategorized

Alain-René Lesage: A military braggart and his opposite

December 9, 2019 Leave a comment

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

French writers on war and peace

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Alain-René Lesage
From Gil Blas of Santillane
Translated by Tobias Smollett

Let him fear this; for it will come to pass
That every braggart shall be found an ass.
Shakespeare

Her father was a poor creature as to intellect; but he possessed the happy talent of looking well after his affairs. One fault he had, of a kind excusable in old men: he was an incessant talker, especially about war and fighting. If that string was unfortunately touched in his presence, in a moment he blew his heroic trumpet, and his hearers might think themselves lucky if they compounded for a gazette extraordinary of two sieges and three battles. As he had spent two-thirds of his life in the service, his memory was an inexhaustible depot of various facts; but the patience of the listeners did not always keep pace with the perseverance of the relater.

****

On my first arrival at Madrid, I fixed my head-quarters in a lodging-house, where resided, among other persons, an old captain, who was come from the distant part of New Castile, to solicit a pension at court, and he thought his claims but too well founded. His name was Don Annibal de Chinchilla. It was not without much staring that I saw him for the first time. He was a man about sixty, of gigantic stature, and of anatomical leanness. His whiskers were like brushwood, fencing off the two sides of his face as high as his temples. Besides that, he was short in his reckoning by an arm and a leg, there was a vacancy for an eye, which Polypheme would have supplied as he did, had patches of green silk been then in the fashion; and his features were hacked sufficiently to illustrate a treatise of geometry. With these exceptions, his configuration was much like that of another man. As to his mental qualities, he was not altogether without understanding; and what he wanted in quickness he made up by gravity. His principles were rigid in the extreme; and it was his particular boast to be delicate on the point of honour.

After two or three interviews, he distinguished me by his confidence. I soon got into all his personal history: he related on what occasions he had left an eye at Naples, an arm in Lombardy, and a leg in the Low Countries. The most admirable circumstance in all his narratives of battles and sieges, was, that not a single feature of the swaggerer peeped out; not a word escaped him to his own honour and glory; though one could readily have forgiven him for making some little display of the half which was still extant of himself, as a set-off against the dilapidations which had deducted so largely from the usual contexture of a man. Officers who return from their campaigns without a scratch upon their skin or a love-lock out of place, are not always so humble in their pretensions.

But he told me that what gave him most uneasiness was, the having wasted a considerable portion of his private fortune on military objects, so that he had not more than a hundred ducats a year left; a poor establishment for such a pair of whiskers, a gentleman’s lodging, and an amanuensis to multiply memorials by wholesale…

Categories: Uncategorized

Maria Louise Eve: Disarm!

December 8, 2019 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

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Maria Louise Eve
Disarm!

Disarm! Disarm! Heed ye the cry,
Ungird the sword and let it lie;
The clock of time has struck the hour
When right is might and peace is power;
These clumsy arbiters of human fate
No more ‘twixt men and men should arbitrate.

Wipe off the stains and sheath the blade,
You cannot heal the wounds it made;
But let it rest and rust for aye,
Its bitter work is done to-day.
And henceforth to your hands there shall be given
Ithuriel spears, resistless, wrought in heaven.

Ye Kings and rulers, everywhere,
Beware how ye resist, beware!
Ye Princes and ye Potentates
Who rule in Empires and in States,
Beware! beware! lest you should lift an arm
Against a voice from heaven that cries, “Disarm!”

Categories: Uncategorized

Marianne Farningham: Give Peace

December 7, 2019 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

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Marianne Farningham (Mary Anne Hearn)
Give Peace

In the hearts of men to-day
Fear and dread are springing:
In the darkening path of gloom
The war-flag is unfurled.
O to see the dove of peace
Coming to the world!
O to have the hours of fear
Stirred by angels singing!

Among the bare and shivering trees
The winds are sadly sighing,
While with relentless cruelty
The chilling winter comes
Where wives and little children
Suffer in cheerless homes,
And even in the bravest hearts
Hope is slowly dying.

God let peace come in place of war,
And each man know his brother!
If sunshine leaves the world outside,
It may yet find a rest,
And gladly through dark days abide
In the love-lighted breast.
It is not winter in the heart
When we love one another!

Categories: Uncategorized