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John Cowper Powys: To Eugene Debs, in prison for opposing war

December 1, 2020 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 Cowper Powys
To Eugene Debs

Away with him! He utters the word “Love.”
Dark-souled incendiary, madman forlorn,
He dares to put humanity above
Discretion. Better never have been born
Than thus to have offended! Learn, good brother.
That Love and Pity are forgotten fables
Told by the drowsy years to one another
With nothing in them to supply our tables.
These are the days of hungry common sense.
Millions of men have died to bring these days;
And more must die ere these good days go hence;
For God moves still in most mysterious ways.
Ah Debs, Debs, Debs, you are out-weighed, out-priced,
These are the days of Caesar, not of Christ –
And yet – suppose – when all was done and said
There were a Resurrection from the Dead!

Categories: Uncategorized

Edwin Markham: Peace Over Africa

November 30, 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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Edwin Markham
Peace Over Africa

O bugles, ripple and shine,
Ripple and rapture down the wavering line.
Praise! Praise! Praise!
For the last of the desperate days.
Shake out the lyrical notes
From your cavernous silvern throats;
Burst into joy mad carols once again
To herald the homing men.

O bugles, tell it to the opening sky,
And go the roads of men with joyous cry.
Peace on the wreath and the wreathless head –
Peace over England, over Africa –
Peace for the living, quiet on the dead –
Peace on the souls hurled downward from the day,
Hurled down with bated breath,
To join the old democracy of Death.

II

The challenge of the bugle and the glum
Rejoinder of the drum,
The neigh of startled stallions,
The hurried rhythm of the hot battalions,
The blown wild scent of crushed geranium,
The parley of the howitzers, the shrill,
Grim colloquy of hill with hill, –
These had their fateful hour. But now, even now,
A bird sings on a cannon-broken bough,
Sings all the afternoon;
And when dark falls
On the short-torn walls,
Frail wings will come to wander in the moon,
Wander in long delight
Through Africa’s star-filled, delicious night.

III

War’s bitter root, and yet so fair a flower!
Sing and be glad, O England, in this hour;
But not as one who has no grief to bear,
No memories, no burden, no despair.
Be glad, but not as one who has no grief:
The victor’s laurel wears a wintry leaf.
The clarions revel and the joy-bells rave,
But what is all the glory and the gain
To those wet eyes behind the misty pane,
Whose Africa is crumpled to one grave,
A lone grave at the mercy of the rain?

No; not the stern averment of the guns,
Nor all our odes, nor all our orisons,
Can sweeten these intolerable tears,
These silences that fall between the cheers.
In all the joy a memory cries and dwells,
A heart-break of heroical farewells.

IV

Let there be no more battles: field and flood
Are sick of bright-shed blood.
Lay the sad swords asleep;
They have their fearful memories to keep.
These swords that in the dark of battle burned, –
Burned upward with insufferable light, –
Lay them asleep: heroic rest is earned;
And in their rest will be a kinglier might
Than ever flowered upon the front of fight.

And fold the flags; they weary of the day,
Worn by their wild climb in the wind’s wild way;
Quiet the dauntless flags,
Grown strangely old upon the smoking crags.
Look, where they startle and leap!
Look, where they hollow and heap!
Tremulous, undulant banners, flared and thinned,
Living and dying momently in the wind!
And war’s imperious bugles, let them rest,
Bugles that cried through whirlwind their behest,
Wild bugles that held council in the sky,
They are a-weary of that curdling cry
That tells men how to die.

And cannons worn out with their work of hell,
The brief, abrupt persuasion of the shell, –
Let the shrewd spider lock them, one by one,
With filmy cables glancing in the sun;
And let the throstle, in their empty throats,
Build his safe nest and spill his rippling notes.

Categories: Uncategorized

Rembert G. Smith: O bid the wars of men to cease

November 29, 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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Rembert G. Smith
A Day of Woe

The house of prayer is empty now,
The hymn of praise no more is heard;
Unbreathed, the sinner’s humble vow;
Unspoken, warnings from God’s Word!

The fields on which did gently fall
The early and the latter rain
And sunlight free from God to all,
Are white with wheat, but all in vain!

Deserted, too, the marts of trade,
Emptied the streets of busy throngs,
While peaceful commerce shrinks dismayed
As war clouds lower with woeful wrongs!

The air above is full of shame
As War defiles her virgin paths,
With navies hot with hate’s own flame,
Uncooled by thoughts of aftermaths!

Behold, O God, the day grows late,
But Thy footstool is red again,
And not outworn the primal hate
Which moved the murd’rous heart of Cain!

How long shall wicked men rebel
Against Thee, loving Lord of life,
And, clad in glitt’ring garb of hell,
Fare forth to fearful fields of strife?

Unholy hands to Thee we lift
In this dread time of woe and sin;
Grant Thou our inmost hearts to sift
And burn to dust the chaff within!

In wrath forget not mercy, Lord;
O bid the Wars of men to cease;
Melt by Thy love each bloody sword,
And lead us forth in paths of peace!

Categories: Uncategorized

Xenophon: Socrates’ prescription for averting the calamities of war

November 28, 2020 Leave a comment

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

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

Xenophon: Begin wars as tardily, end them as speedily as possible

Xenophon: Guile without guilt. Peace and joy reigned everywhere.

Xenophon: Socrates’ war sophistry; civil crimes are martial virtues

Xenophon: War as obsession, warfare as mistress

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Xenophon
From Memorabilia
Translated by Edward Bysshe

Nature has placed in men the principles both of friendship and dissension. Of friendship, because they have need of one another, they have compassion of their miseries, they relieve one another in their necessities, and they are grateful for the assistance which they lend one another: of dissension, because one and the same thing being agreeable to many they contend to have it, and endeavour to prejudice and thwart one another in their designs. Thus strife and anger beget war, avarice stifles benevolence, envy produces hate. But friendship overcoming all these difficulties, finds out the virtuous, and unites them together. For, out of a motive of virtue they choose rather to live quietly in a mean condition, than to gain the empire of the whole earth by the calamities of war.

Categories: Uncategorized

Dana Burnet: The world’s awry and there are no more dreams!

November 27, 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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Dana Burnet
The Plaint of Pan

Mars has my reed! My pipe of water rush,
Whereon I played the shepherds to their toil,
And whistled up the reaper in the dawn,
And whiled the plowman furrowing the soil.

My reed! My precious pipe! The trill in it
Was lighter than the laugh of water-brooks
‘Twas life itself, I tell you oft and oft
I’ve charmed a savant with it from his books.

And made a wise man of him, too! And then
When twilight hazed the pretty woodland streams,
I’ve led my lovers with a lilt of faith
Until their eyes were wonderful with dreams.

I’ve piped the winding caravans of peace,
And set a singing wind to blow the ships.
Now Mars, the braggart, thieves my pipe away,
And claps it to his rough and blowsy lips.

Jupiter, listen! Does he know the stops?
Can he awake those silver twining airs
By which I bound my world? Hark, as he pipes
Afar the angry strident trumpet blares!

My song is twisted out of all its sweet!
Souls cry in agony! The loosed sword gleams;
Oh, Jupiter, give Pan his pipes again!
The world’s awry and there are no more dreams!

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The Canal

The linked worlds stand in wonder at their bond,
The nations quicken and the two seas stir
The waiting spars make mist along the East.
It is the triumph of a Laborer!

The wonder is the wonder of a soul,
A heart that dreamed in terms of continents,
A hand that wrought with mountains and with seas,
A warrior with no murder in his tents.

Oh, there are poems in the clang of steel!
And mayhap there are songs to sing of steam.
Let others cry the glory of the deed,
I only see the Dreamer and the Dream.

Categories: Uncategorized

Nathan Haskell Dole: Thanks offering of the God of Waste and Destruction

November 26, 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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Nathan Haskell Dole
The Nation’s Thank-offering

Oh, God of Waste and Destruction,
We are proud of our splendid show –
A nation’s mighty production,
The weapons of war and of woe!
For miles up the glorious river
The battleships, armored in steel,
Their ear-splitting volleys deliver
And their roar makes the city reel.

The smoke is the incense we offer
On the altar of death and of hate;
Its cost is poured from the coffer
Of the whole world’s peacefulest State.
Each gun eats a workman’s wages –
The keep of a wife and a child;
We squander the wealth of long ages
For the uses of horror beguiled.

Great God of Despair and of Terror,
Behold our infernal array –
The fruit of lies and of error,
The joys of a devil’s play!
In a day the rust will corrode it,
A needless war will destroy;
The furies will reap it that sowed it –
This fiendish, barbarous toy!

Accept the billions we waste on it
That might have been spent for our gain:
The tower of our fool-pride is based on it –
We are right to be boastful and vain.
We soon shall be adding great airships
From which liddite bombs may be hurled;
Then it will not pay to repair ships
That stick to the rim of the world!

So, God of Vengeance and Passion,
Enjoy this sacrifice grand
While still it is quite in the fashion
To waste the wealth of our land.
We lay our lives on the altar,
Our ruin we cheerfully meet;
Oh, let our hearts never falter!
To die for a folly is sweet!

Categories: Uncategorized

Maurice Baring: August, 1918

November 25, 2020 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Maurice Baring: The greater fools are you who seek the wars

Maurice Baring: Unalterable horror, misery, pain and suffering which is caused by modern war

Maurice Baring: The Wounded

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Maurice Baring
August, 1918
(In a French Village)

I hear the tinkling of the cattle bell,
In the broad stillness of the afternoon;
High in the cloudless haze the harvest moon
Is pallid as the phantom of a shell.
A girl is drawing water from a well,
I hear the clatter of her wooden shoon;
Two mothers to their sleeping babies croon,
And the hot village feels the drowsy spell.

Sleep, child, the Angel of Death his wings has spread;
His engines scour the land, the sea, the sky;
And all the weapons of Hell’s armoury
Are ready for the blood that is their bread;
And many a thousand men to-night must die,
So many that they will not count the Dead.

Categories: Uncategorized

Charles A. Blanchard: What is war? Is peace possible?

November 24, 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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Charles A. Blanchard, D. D.
The Kingdom of Peace – A Peace Sermon

“And His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor,
Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”
Isa. 9: 6.

Today throughout a large part of the civilized world men are giving themselves to thought concerning the folly and sin of war. It is well that we join with them in this meditation, for war has been from the beginning and until now one of the results of sin and one of the most fearful curses which have afflicted the human race.

If we did not know what we know we could not believe that human beings would spend their energies in butchering one another, as throughout so many centuries they have done. I do not believe that even now one man in a thousand, one woman in a thousand, knows what war actually is. We read in books of war; most of us do not see it. If we see armies, the rule is that it is in time of peace that we see them. The martial music, the uniforms, the thunder of the cavalry and artillery, and the tramp of the marching feet of thousands of men – all this impresses the imagination pleasantly. How few get beyond it, or think of war as the horrible thing it actually is.

A soldier told me that his first experience in field hospital work was at Harpers Ferry when Lee was invading the North. He said that the sight of streaming blood; of pale, drawn faces; of gaping, ghastly wounds; of arms and legs cut off and thrown into a corner until there was a wagonful, and then carried off and thrown into a pit and covered with quicklime and earth, and another load sawed off and hurried away, was so unspeakably horrible that these scenes haunted him, waking and sleeping, for days ; and yet, he said that in a few short months on the battlefield he could sit down on the dead body of a fellow-soldier, drink from his canteen, eat from his haversack, and rise up to kill again. If this were all, it would be quite sufficient; but it is not all. These men who were thus made meat for the cannon and rifle were, every one of them, from homes; and mothers, and wives, and sisters, and baby brothers, and little children watched for their return, watched for the return of thousands who never came back, and for the return of other thousands who, crippled and maimed, came back to die. No eye but God’s has ever seen the tears that war has caused. No heart but His has ever heard the sobs and cries of wives and little children which have burst forth when news has come from the field of battle or from the hospital wards.

How can people understand war! It is so inexpressibly horrible that the human race would rise en masse and blot from the earth the men who should propose it, but that we are so ignorant of what a foul and loathsome thing it actually is.

What is War?

War is an attempt to settle, by killing men, questions about which nations differ. The side which kills the largest number of people, or is most easily able to stand the frightful cost, becomes the victor in the strife, and the victor may be the one which has righteousness on its side or the one which has grossly and shamelessly trampled on the rights of the sister nation. In former days personal differences were settled in the same manner. Two men disagreed respecting some matter of personal interest, and in place of settling the difference by conferences, or by reference to third parties or by the law, one assaulted the other with his fists or with a club or with a knife or with a gun, and in this way they decided their dispute.

It is, I believe, generally agreed-at this time that the duel was a system fit only for savage and barbarous people. Except in belated regions, where it yet lingers, it has been abandoned by the whole civilized world; but the principle which is involved in the duel is, so far as I can understand, identical with that which is involved in war. The difference is that war involves the slaughter of hundreds of thousands, where the duel costs the death of one or two.

The Call to Peace.

We have witnessed in our time a most remarkable movement. I speak of The Hague Conferences and the results which have already been attained by them. When the Czar of Russia first proposed this conference a smile of incredulity or a laugh of unbelief seemed to fill the world. The most absolute despot in the world, with the largest and most formidable army at his command, was calling for a conference in the interests of peace. It seemed a grim and terrible joke. I am not settled in my own mind at present as to what his thought really was, but whatever it was it is certain that the result has been a long step in advance in the interests of world peace. The road to this end is so short that it seems incredible that the nations should wander in the wilderness of national bankruptcy before they take it. All that the nations of the world need to do to secure peace is to stop preparations for war. Is not this so obvious as to seem superfluous when mentioned? Probably with the disarmament of the nations there would be created an international police, a dozen or twenty great warships, with a compact body of armed men who would be subject to the call of the international court for the suppression, sudden and complete,of an uprising if any nation should dare to disturb the harmony of the world.

Of course, with disarmament and the creation of the international police, there would naturally be an international court, to which would be referred matters of disagreement between nations, just as civil courts now deal with differences between individuals.

All this would not cost money. It would save money. It would save thousands of millions of dollars, not once or twice, but every year, for the nations of the world. Why cannot steps in this direction be taken at once? Why should there be today five millions of men in armed camps, set apart from the industrial world, parasites on the labor of the world, while at the same time an army of men is housed in ships of war, not carrying from shore to shore food for the hungry, clothing for the naked, or comforts for those who need, but at best going from port to port for foolish display; at worst going from port to port to hurl men into untimely graves.

I think it one of the marvels of human history that such an assembly as met in the last Peace Conference at The Hague should have been unable to agree on this simple proposition, that the nations of the world should disarm. The pulpit and the press of every civilized nation ought to speak in thunder tones from day to day and from year to year.until the curse and ignominy of war is blotted from the world.

Vignette of the War System.

I was going to a train one rainy morning in the ancient city of Munich. As I paused on the curb to allow an ox-team drawing a load of wood to pass, I noticed that it was driven by a woman. She was gray-haired and was dressed in the short, heavy skirt of the peasants of Bohemia, and had a man’s hat pushed down over her gray locks, from which on every side the rain was dripping. As she plodded along through the mud, guiding her load of wood, I saw a cab with a fine horse, evidently just from the stable. Above was seated the driver in his raincoat and with his long whip, and within sat a young army officer dressed in a beautiful uniform, drawing the rain-shield up to prevent the rain from soiling his uniform. I stood like one riveted to the pavement while I remembered that that peasant woman, with her gray hairs and poor clothing, was driving that ox-cart through the street so that that young man might be riding in that cab; that she. and others like her were paying for the uniform he wore and the food he ate, and paying his expenses when he traveled on the train. It was an expression of the miseries which are driving millions to leave Europe for America each year.

Young men, strong and stalwart, with hearts full of patriotic feeling, flee from the lands where they were born because unwilling to endure the degradation of military service. No private soldier dare resent an insult from an officer. How could he? His very life is in the hands of the officer and others like him. He is made a slave; scarcely even a slave, rather a machine. His conscience is destroyed. If he is ordered to shoot his mother or his father or his brother, he must shoot or be shot. He has no right to inquire whether the war in which his nation engages is right or wrong. All he has to do is to obey his officers. When they say drill, he must drill; when they say eat, he must eat; when they say sleep, he must sleep; when they say march, he must march; when they say kill, he must kill. It makes no difference whether the contention is right or wrong, whether the people he is to kill be guilty or not, whether the nation he is required to assault is wrong Or wronged. It makes no difference; he must do the work he is ordered to do.

The Fate of the Deserter.

I was reading recently in one of the stories of our own Civil War respecting the execution of a deserter. The writer said it was the purpose of the commanding officers to make executions for desertion as impressive as possible, and so the whole army was mustered on three sides of a hollow square. On the fourth side was a grave for the man or men who were to be shot by their comrades in arms. The men were driven clear around the three sides of the hollow square, that they might be seen by all their comrades. Each man, sitting on his coffin, finally reached the grave which had been prepared for him. He got out of his wagon, the coffin was lifted down to the ground, and at the word of command these young men, full of life and hope, were sent in a moment, by the bullets of possibly their friends, into eternity. Executions for desertion, for sleeping at post, and for other military offenses were so common in the army at one time that there came to be a regular appointment for these executions week by week. The stories which are told of Lincoln and his unwillingness to consent to these slaughter-house practices are familiar to all; but Lincoln was not a common ruler, and his practices have never been the practices of the Government.

In this day we may hope that such bloody transactions as have been the familiar history, the whole history, of war are not to be seen- may never return. But war has written its own history, and we know it to be the bloody, horrible thing that it actually is, and the children and the school, and the mothers and the fathers of the boys who must fight the battles of the future, if battles are to be fought, ought never to cease from efforts to reveal the cruel character of this godless and wretched system.

The Universal Curse.

I have dealt with you thus largely on the brutalities of war as revealed in the lives and work of the armed men. But this is only one side of this miserable subject. I recently heard an address in which a thoughtful man said: “Every one who has read the history of war knows that an army of fighting men involves also an army of fallen women.” How could it be otherwise? Here are millions of young men taken out of homes at the time when they should be establishing homes of their own, or when their homes are recently established, and these men are refused marriage. Not one of the sanctifying home influences may they know until their term of enlistment is expired. In times of peace these men are almost necessarily condemned to practice vice, and if they practice vice, that involves the ruin of others than themselves. Governments all know this, and all consent to it, and when they deny that they consent to it, as for example the English government respecting its army in India, witnesses, have arisen by hundreds and proved them liars. Can you people who sit in these pews imagine how statesmen and generals who have wives whom they honor and daughters they love and sons of whom they are proud, can consent to the havoc caused by war? Would they be willing that their own sons should thus be destroyed, their own daughters become the victims of camps? You say: “No; they would be horrified at the thought.” But if so, how can they consent to the death of others who must die? Why is it worse for the daughter of a cabinet minister to be ruined by camp life than for the daughter of a peasant who toils in the fields while the cabinet minister sits in the parliament house? The whole war system is based on the theory that the poor and inconspicuous may properly be made the victims of those who are more fortunate. Why would it not settle matters of difference between England and Germany as well if five hundred men, including all generals and civil officers, should meet five hundred from the other nation and should fight until one side or the other was whipped, and then make peace? Why would not this be just as rational and as just a settlement as to call the poor lads from their business and the girls from their homes and destroy the one for the vices of men and shoot the other to pieces on the field of battle, and after a while make peace? The answer is not far to seek. The generals do not wish to be killed, do not expect to be killed. They know they may be killed, but they hope to return from fields of battle. They hope that the poor bodies heaped in the trenches and covered with quicklime and earth will be the bodies of the common soldiers, and from experience they know that this is the way the thing works out. If they come home they expect, or their friends demand, great sums of money, civil offices, and all sorts of services, and the men who have decreed the strife are the men who sit in council houses.

Is Peace Possible?

I imagine that in most efforts for improving the world discouragement has been a greater obstacle than indisposition. Men are always saying they would fight against the liquor business or any other curse if their fellows would. This fall, when fifteen millions of Americans will vote to continue the trade in strong drink, probably at least ten millions of them would say this: “If the rest would consent to the abolition we would consent, but the others will not consent, and so we will vote for our parties.” It is so, I imagine, as to the war system. One nation says: “We do not wish to fight, but the others want to fight and are getting ready to fight, and we must be ready to meet them,” and the other nation says exactly the same, and so the awful game goes on. Warship after warship is wrung from the scanty means of the suffering people ; improved warships are turned out; ammunition of new and different sorts is discovered; chemists are busy in their laboratories laboring to invent explosives which will do the work more completely; drill masters are showing men how to use explosives or arms in a way to be most effective in killing, and this burden is continued because each nation says, whether it believes it or not, that the other nations are plotting its overthrow. If they could only accept the truth of our text they would be saved from this insanity.

The world largely calls itself Christian at this time. It is a strange and terrible fact that the wars of the world have been so largely inaugurated and carried forward by nations which wished to be called Christian. It was a prophetic note that was sounded by the Chinese government recently when one of their ministers said: “We have always considered it unworthy of a civilized people to settle disputes by war, but the war systems of the western nations are such that we are compelled to enter on preparations for national defense. What a fearful caricature of Christian civilization is found in the war attitude of the so-called Christian nations to day! The Prince of Peace is the One who is to bring peace to the troubled nations of the world as well as to the hearts of men; and yet war and preparations for war are on every side, and Sabbath after Sabbath in hundreds of thousands of churches people are singing and preaching about the Prince of Peace.

But He Must Reign.

It is a comfort to one who knows the awful annals of the past and who reads the stories of the thirty years’ war, or of any war, and hears what untold miseries and burdens are heaped by it on human hearts and homes, to reflect that there is a growing longing for the coming of the kingdom of our Lord. He must reign. Why must He reign? Because He is the Creator of the world; because He has made these bodies which are to be torn and mangled, these hearts which are to suffer until they break; because He cannot consent that the fields which He has made for joy and comfort of men should become stained and fattened by the blood and bodies of those who should till them; because men were created in His image and for His glory, and because He cannot be denied His rights in the perfection of His creation. And He will reign, not as a Prince of War; before Him will not go trumpets sounding battle; after Him will not go men crazed and eager for the blood of their fellow-men, but a host of the armies of Peace. His kingdom is not to be built on the mangled forms of men, but upon the happiness and prosperity of the creatures whom He has made. And His kingdom is as sure to come as tomorrow’s sun to rise.

Categories: Uncategorized

Ernest Neal Lyon: A Dream of Peace

November 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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Ernest Neal Lyon
A Dream of Peace

Our planet swings from darkling space
To crystal day, –
Productive of a taller race
Than brutish clay,
When Reason rules within the place
Of rifle-play.

With kindling vision Nations then
Will drop the sword,
In common parliament shall men
Find swift accord,
And thought be regnant, by the pen,
Or glowing word!

“To men goodwill!” the prophecy,
Awaited long,
May then reveal its mystery, –
While, sweetly strong,
In Brotherhood’s antiphony
Ascends the song!

Yet, while we pray, – red , angry Mars,
With baleful gleam,
Obscures anew the Bethlehem star’s
Benignant beam, –
While breaks the clash of battle-cars
Upon our dream!

The spirit conquers!
Souls seek release.
The tumult passes! As before,
The war-songs cease.
And angel-voices, loved of yore,
Now carol peace!

Categories: Uncategorized

Vachel Lindsay: The Unpardonable Sin

November 22, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Vachel Lindsay: Speak Now for Peace

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Vachel Lindsay
The Unpardonable Sin

This is the sin against the Holy Ghost: –
To speak of bloody power as right divine,
And call on God to guard each vile chief’s house,
And for such chiefs, turn men to wolves and swine: –

To go forth killing in White Mercy’s name,
Making the trenches stink with spattered brains,
Tearing the nerves and arteries apart,
Sowing with flesh the unreaped golden plains.

In any Church’s name, to sack fair towns,
And turn each home into a screaming sty,
To make the little children fugitive,
And have their mothers for a quick death cry, –

This is the sin against the Holy Ghost:
This is the sin no purging can atone: –
To send forth rapine in the name of Christ: –
To set the face, and make the heart a stone.

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Jessie Wiseman Gibbs: The blessed salve of peace for the whole bleeding world

November 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

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Jessie Wiseman Gibbs
From Peace Sonnets

XXXIX
This war is from beneath and from above,
Not of the nations, only, but that same
Old conflict of the Beast, whose other name
Is Self, and of the Christ, whose name is Love;
And men and nations are the spoil thereof;
For the Beast comes to kill and steal and maim,
And Christ to heal, to ransom and reclaim,
And men in ranks of each have ever strove.

It is the last fierce onslaught of the Beast,
For now the world sees his jaws drip with slime
Of its heart’s blood, and feels his talons tear
Its vitals, and its miseries increased
Past suffering, till turning to Christ’s care,
It trust his saying banners for all time.

XL
Build no more ships of war, my Land, no more:
For we must fight upon Christ’s side in this
Great strife; but if we cower ‘neath guns that hiss
With fires of Hell, and trust its cannon’s roar,
We take the arch-fiend for our commodore,
And are already lost, and shall not miss
To be dragged down by him to the abyss
Wherein the nations perish at our door.

Heed not thy lying prophets, who are of
This world; have faith in God, and thou shalt build
Ships of salvation, and they shall be filled
With armies of the blood-red cross of love,
And thou shalt send them east and west, to win
Christ’s peaceful victories o’er death and sin.

XLI
We can perceive, at last, the world is one,
And we shall save ourselves when we have saved
The nations, and the way to life is paved
Through travail and through sacrifice, and none
Shall see God’s great salvation ’neath the sun,
Save in Christ’s dauntless spirit, that once craved
To give men life, and through the unseen braved
The fear of death, and life immortal won.

Choose, then, my Land, if thou wilt bear his cross
And live, or bear the sword and die. With Christ
We suffer, but we reign for evermore;
With Satan we shall surely suffer sore
And miserably pass from loss to loss
And perish with all nations he enticed.

XLII
‘Tis well we should sit down and count the cost,
If we be able, with our paltry ten
Thousand, to go against a force of men
That number twenty thousand in their host;
So, if we see no hope, ere they have crossed
Our borders, we may send with haste to ken
The grim conditions whereon we again
May live a little while, ere all be lost.

Sure we can never do it in the might
Or power of our own hands, but by the Son
O God, and by his Spirit, if we have
But faith, the battle is already won,
And the great prize, which is the blessed salve
Of peace for the whole bleeding world, in sight.

XLVI
If we must die (for life is not more dear
Than our most holy cause ) then let us die
For Heaven, not for Hell, truth, not a lie,
And fall into God’s arms, who shall appear
To raise us from the dead. Yea, let our seer
See God, and let him pray, till we descry
Those chariots and those horsemen of the sky
Who are our only hope, and our last fear.

I know a warfare calls for lives and blood,
Whose soldiers bear no weapon, but the cross,
And think him braver who with ardor high
Goes forth therein than regiments that toss
Their lives to the grim chance of guns. O God,
In that dear warfare let me fight and die!

Categories: Uncategorized

Osyp Yuriy Fedkovych: The Recruit

November 20, 2020 Leave a comment

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

Ukrainian writers on war

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Osyp Yuriy Fedkovych
The Recruit
Translated by Florence Randal Livesay

In the great Emperor’s courtyard
He stood at his post on the pavement.
He washed his face and dried it
As the duck her wings in water.
He washed his face with his tears –
None saw or heard in the silence.

He leaned his head on the bayonet
And slept for a precious moment.
In the great Emperor’s courtyard
He slept on his sharp-tipped bayonet.

He dreamt that he walked on a mountain –
O blue was the dream-like mountain! –
Brushing his hair in ringlets.
He walked on thinking, thinking:
Why does my mother write not,
Or can she still be living?

He heard her answer softly:
“I would like, my son, to write you,
But they made me a tomb so lofty
That I may not rise from beneath it.
Oh rise I cannot, my Eagle!
For deep below, on the bottom,
They have covered my hands with earth-clods,
With earth that is lying heavy.”

In the great Emperor’s courtyard
He would have dreamt still longer,
But the bell on high St. Stephen’s
Rang with a sudden clamour….
He wiped his face from the misting,
His bayonet wiped he dully –
Blood flows on the courtyard pavement
From the soldier lying dead there.

Categories: Uncategorized

Edwin L. Sabin: Where Will the War be Next?

November 19, 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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Edwin L. Sabin
Where Will the War be Next?

‘Tis peace, they say, o’er the Afric plains;
‘Tis peace on the Carib coast;
Peace in the Orient islands reigns;
Quiet each ardent host:
But armies and fleets await employ –
With rumors the air is vexed;
Aye, mother, cling to your only boy!
Where will the war be next?

Peace – and the German eagle peers
And opens his greedy maw!
Peace – and the bear of the bleak frontiers
Stretches with greedy paw!
Peace – but the ships of steel increase
And statesmen watch, perplexed!
What is the thing we folk term “peace” –
Where will the war be next?

Plan, you wise, for a worldwide court,
Where nations shall plead their right –
And this the pitiful, sole resort
When honor or lust says “Fight” –
When “On!” is pealed from the trumpet’s throat,
And “Glory” the rifle’s text,
And the flags high float to the drum’s stern note –
Where will the war be next?

Categories: Uncategorized

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Forevermore, forevermore, the reign of violence is o’er!

November 18, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: I am weary of your quarrels, weary of your wars and bloodshed

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Peace! and no longer from its brazen portals the blast of War’s great organ shakes the skies!

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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
From The Occultation of Orion

Beneath the sky’s triumphal arch
This music sounded like a march,
And with its chorus seemed to be
Preluding some great tragedy.
Sirius was rising in the east;
And, slow ascending one by one,
The kindling constellations shone.
Begirt with many a blazing star,
Stood the great giant Algebar,
Orion, hunter of the beast!
His sword hung gleaming by his side,
And, on his arm, the lion’s hide
Scattered across the midnight air
The golden radiance of its hair.

The moon was pallid, but not faint;
And beautiful as some fair saint,
Serenely moving on her way
In hours of trial and dismay.
As if she heard the voice of God,
Unharmed with naked feet she trod
Upon the hot and burning stars,
As on the glowing coals and bars,
That were to prove her strength, and try
Her holiness and her purity.

Thus moving on, with silent pace,
And triumph in her sweet, pale face,
She reached the station of Orion.
Aghast he stood in strange alarm!
And suddenly from his outstretched arm
Down fell the red skin of the lion
Into the river at his feet.
His mighty club no longer beat
The forehead of the bull; but he
Reeled as of yore beside the sea,
When, blinded by Oenopion,
He sought the blacksmith at his forge,
And, climbing up the mountain gorge,
Fixed his blank eyes upon the sun.

Then, through the silence overhead,
An angel with a trumpet said,
“Forevermore, forevermore,
The reign of violence is o’er!”
And, like an instrument that flings
Its music on another’s strings,
The trumpet of the angel cast
Upon the heavenly lyre its blast,
And on from sphere to sphere the words
Re-echoed down the burning chords, –
“Forevermore, forevermore,
The reign of violence is o’er!”

Categories: Uncategorized

Edwin Arnold Brenholtz: The Dying Warrior

November 17, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Edwin Arnold Brenholtz: The Demon, War

Edwin Arnold Brenholtz: The Passion of Peace

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Edwin Arnold Brenholtz
The Dying Warrior

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Answer” –

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

****

To Arbitration

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

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

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

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

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

Less loved than War by lisping lass unschooled by life,
Less loved than War by wanton, warriors waste their pay and manhood on,
Less loved than War by world that wounds its Christ to death –
But thou, O Arbitration, born of Peace and Love, art now, hast been, and evermore shalt be th’ acclaimed compatriot of each cause that cries:
“COME LET US REASON – NOT RESORT TO FORCE.”

Categories: Uncategorized

Kenneth Bruce: Universal Peace

November 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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Kenneth Bruce
Peace

Not for thee, proud Holland, is the boast
Of peace fulfilled, nor yet has Hague’s fair name
Been hailed as leader of that honored host
Who sought through war’s quick death enduring fame.
Thy patriot’s fervor humbled haughty Spain;
Thy ocean-bulwarks bade her bow the knee;
But peace ‘twixt man and man thou could’st not gain;
Thy precious gift belongs to Liberty.

To thee, Columbia, Goddess of the Free!
The nations turn and raise their suppliant prayer;
Strike gun from fort and ship, till every sea
Shall fling fair freedom’s banner to the air.
Then shall the nations rest and fierce war cease,
Lapped in the arms of Universal Peace.

Categories: Uncategorized

Margaret Widdemer: War-March

November 15, 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

Margaret Widdemer: After War

Margaret Widdemer: A Mother to the War-Makers

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Margaret Widdemer
War-March

“For this were ye made,” the King saith,”
To be sent to death
For the sake of Our thrones;
For this shall your women breed
Fighting-men to our need;
For this shall ye drudge to mold
Toil into guarding gold:
For We build Our thrones
Of gold and of dead men’s bones,
And this is of God,” the King saith….
“Ay,” said the Folk, ” we know.
Great are God and the King. We go.”

“There is nothing new since the world began,
“There is nothing new” swing the cheery fife and drum,
“There is nothing new in all the land of man
In the death of man, in the hate of man,
Ay, the mirth and killing in the hand of man,
Let them come! Let them come! Let them come!
We have cheered the killing on the earth of man
Since the birth of man for the mirth of man:
There is nothing new in all the wars of man
Let them come – let them come – let them come!”

(Ay, fife-and-drum beat, hideously cheerful,
Hideously merry, shrilly heartening,
Death-birds settling over the stricken field,
Widely circling, smooth, unhurried of wing;
Babes born dead on the earth-heaps, women starving alone,
Skulls turned up in the plowing a century hence from the mold,
By peoples battle-dwarfed, fearful,
Ay, fife-and-drum beat, hideously cheerful,
Joy-of-battle unsealed,
All these are known
All these are old.)

Silent troopers tramping down the roadway,
(Horror falls when the drums forget to beat)
Heartbreak – heartbreak – heartbreak – heartbreak
Echoes and follows from the heavy-marching feet.

Screaming boys lash-drafted from their plowing,
Fear-hushed women hoping of the dead
Heartbreak – heartbreak – heartbreak – heartbreak –
Answers and follows on the ruthless-passing tread.

Strong young soldiers singing toward their death-place,
Never strong more, never to have sons
Heartbreak – heartbreak – heartbreak – heartbreak –
Throbs their tread above the thunder of the guns.

Stiffened hands that touch no sweetheart ever,
Mouths agape, in horrid laughter curled
Heartbreak – heartbreak – heartbreak – heartbreak –
Echoes and shudders all across the shaken world….
There is grief on the forsaken fields….

(Sorrow! wail the bugles . . . O endless sorrow and grieving!)
For the food that shall rot ungarnered, for the hungry who shall not eat,
For the starving years that must follow the track in the trampled wheat,
For the girl-children tortured and ravished, the old women lashed and maimed,
For the babies nailed up by the foot-palms, the shuddering mothers shamed….
(Sorrow! wail the bugles…O endless sorrow and grieving!)
For the hearts of the men made brutal, made murderers evermore,
For the world a century halted by challenging guards of war,
For death…and for hate…and for hunger….
(Sorrow! cry the bugles far off in the future….Sorrow!)

(“Were we made for this?” asked the Folk
Lifting their eyes from the sod
A little way to peer
From the crushing-weighted yoke
Of toil and of slaughterings
Of the King and his battle-lust,
The King and his battle-God:
0 War-March
And the sullen murmur broke
Like waves when the storm is near….
“The Kings,” they said, “are but dust –
Who hath made our world for Kings?”)

Categories: Uncategorized

Waldo R. Browne: War, a parable

November 14, 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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Waldo R. Browne
A Parable

In a certain city, little or no thought was taken for the health of its inhabitants. Open sewers ran through the streets; the water supply was polluted at its source, and the air was poisoned with foul odors. Now it chanced that a few physicians within the city, being versed in the laws of hygiene and having made them selves familiar with the horrors of pestilence, strove unremittingly to arouse in their fellow-citizens a sense of the common danger, that the sources of contagion might be purified and rendered innocuous. But for the most part their efforts were ignored, or treated with contempt and mockery.

And in due time a scourge of typhoid fell upon the city, devouring all before it.

Then said the wiseacres to the physicians: “Fools and dreamers, see how your fine theories have broken down! You would make us believe that typhoid might be done away with, and behold how it flourishes! Of what worth are your insane fancies in the face of this reality?”

Then said other wiseacres: “Base worldlings, look upon the beauty and beneficence of this scourge! See how the petty self-seekings, the low material rivalries, of every-day life are forgotten! See how rich and poor, young and old, strong and weak, are knit together in the sense of a common destiny, that exalts humanity above itself! See how the sublime spirit of sacrifice, invisible in the garish sunlight of health, now shines forth like a splendid star!”

Then said still other wiseacres: “Poltroons and weaklings, too timorous to face the fundamental realities of existence! White-livered devotees of health-at-any-price, blinded by base personal fear of typhoid, how could such as you realize that only in Disease do strong men like ourselves find opportunity and reward?”

And still other wiseacres spake, saying: “Fanatics and ignoramuses, do you not know that typhoid always has existed, and so always must? It lies in human nature – and which of you can change that?”

Then said certain members of the clergy: “Scoffers and blasphemers, who would fly in the face of the Divine Purpose! Is it not written in Holy Scripture that ‘He that abideth in this city shall die by the pestilence,’ and ‘The Lord shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee’? Who are you that dare to interfere with the appointed workings of Providence?”

This and much more they spake unto the physicians, with all manner of violent and abusive epithets. And meanwhile the scourge of typhoid swept on its course, devouring all before it.

Categories: Uncategorized

Dionysius of Halicarnassus: Women’s plea for peace

November 13, 2020 Leave a comment

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

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

Dionysius of Halicarnassus: Scorn rapine and violence and the profits accruing from war

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Dionysius of Halicarnassus
From Roman Antiquities
Translated by Earnest Cary

While both sides were consuming the time in these considerations, neither daring to renew the fight nor treating for peace, the wives of the Romans who were of the Sabine race and the cause of the war, assembling in one place apart from their husbands and consulting together, determined to make the first overtures themselves to both armies concerning an accommodation. The one who proposed this measure to the rest of the women was named Hersilia, a woman of no obscure birth among the Sabines….After the women had taken this resolution they came to the senate, and having obtained an audience, they made long pleas, begging to be permitted to go out to their relations and declaring that they had many excellent grounds for hoping to bring the two nations together and establish friendship between them. When the senators who were present in council with the king heard this, they were exceedingly pleased and looked upon it, in view of their present difficulties, as the only solution. Thereupon a decree of the senate was passed to the effect that those Sabine women who had children should, upon leaving them with their husbands, have permission to go as ambassadors to their countrymen, and that those who had several children should take along as many of them as they wished and endeavour to reconcile the two nations. After this the women went out dressed in mourning, some of them also carrying their infant children. When they arrived in the camp of the Sabines, lamenting and falling at the feet of those they met, they aroused great compassion in all who saw them and none could refrain from tears. And when the councillors had been called together to receive them and the king had command them to state their reasons for coming, Hersilia, who had proposed the plan and was at the head of the embassy, delivered a long and pathetic plea, begging them to grant peace to those who were interceding for their husbands and on whose account, she pointed out, the war had been undertaken. As to the terms, however, on which peace should be made, she said the leaders, coming together by themselves, might settle them with a view to the advantage of both parties.

After she had spoken thus, all the women with their children threw themselves at the feet of the king and remained prostrate till those who were present raised them from the ground and promised to do everything that was reasonable and in their power. Then, having ordered them to withdraw from the council and having consulted together, they decided to make peace. And first a truce was agreed upon between the two nations; then the kings met together and a treaty of friendship was concluded.

Categories: Uncategorized

Dana Burnet: War

November 12, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Dana Burnet: Napoleon’s Tomb

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Dana Burnet
War

All down the reeking trail of years the mailèd armies go,
With mock of flags and bitter drums and dead hearts in a row,
Behind them in the gloom of blood the broken nations lie
And o’er them wheels their gruesome god, a buzzard in the sky.

For some have marched with heathen curse, and some with Christian prayer,
But all have paid the vulture god that beats the darkened air;
And women know and children know that hear the trumpets’ breath,
There is no god goes with them but the wheeling god of death.

A thousand vineyards rot and die, a thousand hearths lie cold,
And still earth sends her armies down for some new shame of gold,
And still the little mothers sit with faces white and wan,
And watch the buzzards wheeling in the crimson smoke of dawn!

How long, O Liege of Heaven, ere Thy fearful judgments cease?
What sin is on my brother’s hand that will not give him peace?
What flaw is in the Potter’s clay that molds us to such shame,
And puts upon a murdered man the grinning mask of fame?

Down all the reeking trail of years I see the armies go,
With mock of flags and waste of dreams and dead hearts in a row,
And high above the blighted road their iron feet have trod
I see the awful clouding wing that blots the face of God.

Categories: Uncategorized

Frank C. Reighter: Victim of War’s murd’rous tyranny

November 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

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Frank C. Reighter
War

The Right – two seeming wrongs hath never made;
Nor combat cured the canker of a grudge.
Love cannot be dispensed on glist’ning blade,
Nor can Peace rule while “human will” is judge.

‘Tis pride of conquest profligates the soul,
And pampers false ambition’s rising flood;
Till man – no longer man – upon the shoal
Of Hate, wrecks all in surging seas of blood.

Each side from narrow viewpoint doth but see
The injured self; and in each mortal breast,
The heart, o’erwhelmed by passion’s mastery,
Doth entertain Revenge as favored guest;
And, heeding this foul demon’s false decree,
Falls – Victim of War’s murd’rous tyranny.

Categories: Uncategorized

Arnold Bennett: The Primary Object of War

November 10, 2020 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Arnold Bennett: The miraculous lunacy of war

Arnold Bennett: The Slaughterer

Arnold Bennett: War casualties and war profiteers

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Arnold Bennett
The Primary Object of War
From the Daily News and Leader, London

The primary object of this war and of all wars is to lacerate human flesh, to break bones, to inflict tortures, to paralyze, and to kill. Every army in the field today is out for maiming and homicide, and for nothing else. Certainly armies make prisoners, not because they want to do so, rather because they are afraid logically to carry out their principles. Every explosive weapon, from the 42-centimeter gun to the service revolver, is designed, made, charged, and fired with the definite and clear intention of either doing men to death or inflicting upon them the severest possible disablement, which must nearly always be accompanied by intense physical pain, and which very often involves life-long misery and woe. Guns are aimed against buildings only for the reason that they serve directly or indirectly to protect men from murder and disablement, and the purpose of destroying buildings is to deprive men of some kind of defense, and thus expose them to destruction, torture, and paralysis. This is war. This is what is going on daily just now in many different parts of Europe against the outraged conscience of the world. This is the basis of military glory, and of all those other fustian things that overlords rant about. This is what overlords wish to perpetuate among the usages of mankind. Let us never forget that war is first and last the tearing of human flesh, the shattering of human bones, and the greatest source of human agony, both physical and mental.

We see on a poster “Ten Thousand Casualties.” But we forbear from letting the words raise an image in our minds. Our conception of the affair implied by those three words is a mathematical conception more than anything else. We do not see a thousand prisoners led away in despair, nor a thousand decaying corpses lying in strange, contorted attitudes on the ground, nor eight thousand tortured, bleeding men, whose torn and pierced bodies have in a few moments exuded hogsheads of blood. You protest that I ought not to use such a phrase as “hogsheads of blood” – it sickens you. And why should you not be sickened? Those hogsheads of blood, lacerated limbs, smashed bones, glazing eyes, screams of pain, are exactly what we all in every country asked for when we voted supplies. A battery which could not point proudly to such results might as well spike its guns in shame. It is a tremendous pity that those who cause war seldom see what the thing is that they have caused. It is a tremendous pity that we cannot all of us see on the cinema the fall of a shell into a trench crowded with men, and the convulsions of the wounded in the open field. What men can suffer we ought surely to have the strength to witness! Could we bring ourselves to do so, could diplomatists, overlords, and financiers be compelled to do so, there would be an end to war and of bellicose ideals. War only persists because people do not realize what it is. People object to realizing what it is, and their delicate sensibilities are carefully respected by practically all those who talk or write about war.

Categories: Uncategorized

C. F. Harper: Song of the Battleships

November 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

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C. F. Harper
Song of the Battleships

Mind of man, what have you wrought
From the ribs of mother earth –
From the soil that gave you birth?
Mind of man, what have you wrought?

You have builded mighty navies; you have made the sea your slave, –
And the booming of your cannon strikes the crest of every wave;

You have dug into the bowels of the earth’s eternal hills,
Tearing out the stubborn metals for the grinding of your mills;

For the forging of your hammers, for the blowing of your blasts,
For the making of your armor, for the building of your masts;

For the guns whose rolling thunders frighten half a world in awe, –
Shouting out the fateful message, “Right is Might, and Might is Law.”

Oh, the guns, great guns,
Shooting forty million tons;
Shooting death, and shooting hell!
Aim, you gunners, aim them well.

You have slaved a million freemen for the digging of your coal,
For your engines throbbing wildly, like a panting human Soul.

You have chained the ragged lightning, and you hold it in your hand;
By the pressing of a button you can devastate a land.

Oh, the fury of your anger! Oh, the pent-up seas of blood
That shall wet the ocean’s battles with a gory human flood!

Oh, the booming of your cannon: shall slay,
When the wrath of man is loosened in a frightful judgment day!

Mind of man, what have you wrought,
From the ribs of mother earth –
From the soil that gave you birth?
Mind of man, what have you wrought?

Categories: Uncategorized

Thomas Gent: Sonnet to Peace

November 8, 2020 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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Thomas Gent
Sonnet. To Peace

Come long-lost blessing! heaven-lov’d seraph, haste,
On pity’s wings upborne, a world’s wide woes
Invoke thy smiles extatic, long effac’d,
Beneath the tear which all corrosive flows;
While reason shudders, let ambition weep,
When wounding truth records what it has done:
Records the hosts consign’d to death’s cold sleep,
Conspicuous ‘mid the pomp of conflicts won!
Shall not the fiend relent, while groaning age
Pours its deep sorrows o’er its offspring slain;
While sire-robb’d infants mourn the deathful rage,
In many a penury enfeebled strain?
Sweet maid, return! behold affliction’s tear,
And in my theme accept a nation’s prayer.

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James H. West: No More

November 7, 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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James H. West
No More

No more the world lifts laurel leaves to crown
The wielder of the battle axe and spear.
The trade that filled the earth with fear
And robbed the mother of her hard-won prize –
Her baby with the golden hair and eyes
Just grown to manhood, fit for fair renown –
The trade that wrecked with woe
Wide fields all billowy with ripened grain,
And turned the rivers’ healing flow
To currents red with wrathful stain –
That trade is passing from the earth.
No longer entered on with mirth,
War now is known
As thing the most obscene
‘Mong all the things terrene;
A shame to be outgrown,
Unmasked in all its evil mien;
And conquerors are but butchers whose red hands
No more triumphant wave through cheering lands,
But nerveless fall, at love’s divine commands.

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John Wright Buckham: The Heroisms of Peace

November 6, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

William James: The Moral Equivalent of War

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John Wright Buckham
The Heroisms of Peace

No one who has read the article by President Tucker in the Atlantic Monthly for April, “The Crux of the Peace Problem,” can doubt that he has put his unerring finger upon the fundamental weakness of the peace movement. The morally sound man does not want a peace of inertia. He suspects “the ghastly smooth life, dead at heart.” The peace of the human mollusk is to him nauseating. He knows that life is not worth living, either for individuals or nations, unless it has in it conquest, sacrifice, achievement, and these have for ages been associated with war. If he can be shown that this association is merely adventitious; that the extermination of war is not an end, but a means;. that it is essential that war be abolished in order to open the way for larger conquests and to release forces that have been held back by its domination, he will be ready to meet the peace movement with a more whole-hearted response and commitment. It is not an easy matter to reverse the misconception of milleniums. Yet the demonstration of the bankruptcy of war is becoming indisputable, as the smoke of this worst of wars begins to clear away. William James, in those fatuous, purblind days before the war, sought to discover some, “Moral Substitute for War.” The very title now strikes us strangely. We are coming to see that war itself has been made the substitute – the rank, outrageous substitute – for something vastly more strenuous, difficult, heroic.

When the universe and himself have been given men to conquer, it is a costly irrelevancy to turn aside to light among ourselves.

There are inevitable collective tasks which challenge humanity and call upon it to leave the childish quarreling of warfare for more serious and rational enterprises. The first and easiest of these common tasks is the conquest of nature. Let us not think that this great task is already nearing completion. The conquest of nature does not mean the exploitation of nature. It means her deliverance ; and .it will not be accomplished until disease, poverty, disaster, and all our physical ills and obstacles are mastered. Here is a task that calls for a cool and intelligent heroism which makes that of the battlefield seem hectic and wasteful. With all the moving acts of heroism that have occurred in connection with the war, none have touched the general heart of the world quite so deeply as those that accompanied the loss of the Titanic. Pain and death must be faced in peace as surely as in war, and thousands of sick rooms daily reveal as fine a courage as the battlefield ever witnessed.

Another huge and heroic task that has been held back by war is that of civil government – so far as yet from its accomplishment, so complex and intricate, so full of danger and difficulty. To bring democracy to its fulfillment – what does not this involve of courage and intelligence, of sacrifice and service, of purpose and perseverance!

And then there is the kindred enterprise of the organization and moralization of industry. The problem of industrial peace cannot be hidden behind that of national peace, as President Tucker has pointed out. One must go far to find any stronger and subtler foe than human greed and selfishness as it lies intrenched in the plains of business. To drive such an enemy from its well-defended trenches calls for a campaign of unexampled skill and courage.

Close behind these two looms another mighty task – that of education. How feebly the twentieth century is still fumbling at it – giving to education its thousands while it gives to war its millions; studying military strategy, while it should be studying educational method; striding forward in the fiendish arts of war, while it lags feebly along in those of education.

Yes, and the stupendous task which lies so close to these – that of the moral cleansing and reconstruction of society – does any one think that campaign can be won with bird-bolts and brass bands? Here, if any where, is need of strategy, courage, perseverance.

Nor can I forbear mentioning another collective task not so readily recognized – that of the advance of human knowledge. I do not refer so much to science as to the search for those ultimate verities which lie so close to our human well-being – a task demanding hard, close, persistent, unselfish thinking on the part of men set apart to this task and of others who will rethink and interpret their thoughts?that we may penetrate, as far as may be, toward the heart of truth and disseminate it as widely as possible.

And this, of course, leads on to a still greater and more essential task – that of the cultivation of a free, vital, rational, religious life. This is no sinecure of a sleek and well-fed clergy. It is an enterprise for the church as a whole – for humanity at large. It calls for a militancy beside which militarism seems a childish anachronism. It requires missionaries, martyrs, apostles, men and women of vision and devotion, able to “subdue kingdoms, work righteousness, turn to flight
armies of aliens.”

Such are some of our common human tasks – tasks from which war has diverted us – war with its false claims, its waste of resources, its cursed crippling of powers, its degradation, its inevitable frustration of all true progress.

Yet to leave the matter here would be but half of the story. Life is an individual discipline as well as a common task, and its summons to conflict is absolutely inclusive and distributive. No single soul escapes this call to enlistment. Each has his own mission, his individual warfare, as well as his share in the common campaign. And there is no room for a debased pacifism in the business of right living. There is no place here for softness – except by a mean surrender. War is not needed to call out courage in one who is engaged in the struggle of daily living in the pursuit of a high ideal. That high vocation is inwrought with all true heroisms.

Men have always feared that they needed something more than plain, steadfast every-day living to harden their moral muscles. They have called in asceticism to make life harder and fruitfuller in daring and devotion. It is a mistaken notion. Life is no “moral holiday,” except for those who evade its plain duties – and they soon find it turning to the anti-climax in which a stolen holiday is sure to eventuate. Most men and women need no hardships other than those that come to them in the day’s work, provided they front these bravely. To resist soldierly the temptations of child hood and youth; to meet a man’s work or a woman’s mission with a steady hand and a brave heart; to keep the inner life tense and true ; to spend one’s self for the common good – here is ample test of one’s metal. The rearing of children is one of our chief modern heroisms. It calls for boundless pluck and patience.

The mischief has always been in conjuring up unnatural and fictitious bogies to fight with, in place of the evils that are fast embedded in life itself. It is because we shirk these, and are defeated by them, that we think we must have wars – creating artificial and bestial enmities – to stiffen our waning heroism. We think that our young men need disciplining. They do; but our army posts have never given any very conclusive evidence of furnishing it.

When you reach the heart and center of heroism, it is something inner, a quality of spirit, not physical prowess. Humanity will never become wholly brave, sacrificial, and strong until it turns from the childish and inhuman “arts” of war to the human tasks that demand wise, heroic, untiring devotion.

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Ovid: Add incense, ye priests, to the flames that burn on the altar of Peace

November 5, 2020 Leave a comment

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

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

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Ovid
From The Fasti
Translated by James G. Frazer

Long time did wars engage mankind; the sword was handier than the share; the plough ox was ousted by the charger; hoes were idle, mattocks were turned into javelins, and a helmet was made out of a heavy rake. Thanks be to the gods and to thy house! Under your foot long time War has been laid in chains. Yoke the ox, commit the seed to the ploughed earth. Peace is the nurse of Ceres, and Ceres is the foster-child of Peace.

bella diu tenuere viros: erat aptior ensis
vomere, cedebat taurus arator equo;
sarcula cessabant, ersique in pila ligones,
factaque de rastri pondere cassis erat.
gratia dis domuique tuae; religata catenis
iampridem vestro sub pede bella iacent.
sub iuga bos veniat, sub terras semen aratas
pax Cererem nutrit, pacis alumna Ceres.

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The course of my song hath led me to the altar of Peace. The day will be the second from the end of the month. Come, Peace, thy dainty tresses wreathed with Actian laurels, and let thy gentle presence abide in the whole world. So but there be nor foes nor food for triumphs, thou shalt be unto our chiefs a glory greater than war. May the soldier bear arms only to check the armed aggressor, and may the fierce trumpet blare for naught but solemn pomp! May the world near and far dread the sons of Aeneas, and if there be any land that feared not Rome, may it love Rome instead! Add incense, ye priests, to the flames that burn on the altar of Peace, let a white victim fall with cloven brow, and ask of the gods, who lend a favouring ear to pious prayers, that the house, which is the warranty of peace, with peace may last for ever.

Ipsum nos carmen deduxit Pacis ad aram.
haec erit a mensis fine secunda dies.
frondibus Actiacis comptos redimita capillos,
Pax, ades et toto mitis in orbe mane.
dum desint hostes, desit quoque causa triumphi
tu ducibus bello gloria maior eris.
sola gerat miles, quibus arma coerceat, arma,
canteturque fera nil nisi pompa tuba,
horreat Aeneadas et primus et ultimus orbis:
si qua parum Romam terra timebat, amet.
tura, sacerdotes, pacalibus addite flammis,
albaque percussa victima fronte cadat,
utque domus, quae praestat eam, cum pace perennet
ad pia propensos vota rogate deos.

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Ina Duvall Singleton: The Women’s Litany

November 4, 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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Ina Duvall Singleton
The Women’s Litany

From battle (which is murder) and from strife,
From needless, wholesale waste of human life
Deliver us, who cry for help to Thee –
Oh! Lord of Hosts, hear Thou our litany!

For in those mighty armies that are hurled
Each on to each, as one would loose the chain
That binds dread beasts – to battle until Slain,
Is One – within those ranks, each man – (a pawn
‘Twould seem to those who, battling, set them on)
Each fighting man leaves one behind to mourn.

For every man who dies to give
His life, that England’s freedom live;
For every man who yields his dower
Of strength, to strengthen German power;
For every man who hails the chance –
“A glorious death for glorious France!”
For every man, some woman waits!

The mothers, who nave borne proud pain,
That by their travail earth might gain
Her sons, and then their lives have spent
To rear them – Lord, these women meant
For peaceful age – see now they wait!
What part have they in that great hate
That sets men battling? Yet, they wait!

The wives who on these men depend;
The wives whose husbands should defend
Them from the hardships, cares of life;
If there be glory in this strife,
No glory do they share who wait,
Deserted, sorrowing, desolate |
Look, Lord, in pity! – See! they wait!

The children – helpless, innocent –
For whom a father’s care was meant;
Bereft of that, they stand alone –
Can victory for their loss atone?
Behold these children, Lord! They wait!

Till men their blood-lust satiate –
For sires who may not come, they wait!
From pestilence, from famine, from each shape
Of horror that stalks after, in war’s wake,
Deliver us, who cry for aid to Thee!
Lord, God of Hosts, hear Thou our litany!

Categories: Uncategorized

Anne Cleveland Cheney: All Ye Who Pass By

November 3, 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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Anne Cleveland Cheney
All Ye Who Pass By

[On a village street a lame wood-carver sits at work in his doorway. A little child makes a hobby-horse of the father’s crutch and plays around him. Not far from them a linden tree spreads its branches over a circular bench. As the father works and the child plays, a young man walks slowly, broodingly down the street and sits unnoticed under the tree.]

THE CHILD :
Why dost thou carve and carve but just one thing?

THE FATHER:
They must be for the churches, thou well knowest.

CHILD:
All for the churches?

FATHER:
Seldom any else.

CHILD [bending over the work]:
How canst thou do it? ‘Tis so Wonderful!
How fine those little thorns around the brow!
‘Tis cruel thou shouldst make them, oh, so sharp!
Nay, I’d not carve such wicked, sad, sad things.

[The man by the tree lifts his face as though listening.]

FATHER:
‘Tis that we must remember how He died,
And all He suffered to redeem the world;
Men might forget.

CHILD:
Aye, ’twas so long ago?
Father, how long ago?

FATHER:
Two thousand years.

CHILD:
And men remember still?

[A bugle sounds. A soldier hurries down the street, but stops short at sight of the man by the tree, and speaks low, urgently. The child draws near, staring.]

THE SOLDIER [scanning the man in amaze]:
These clothes! And thou still doubting, questioning now –
Now, when the last command hath come to arm?

THE MAN [bitterly]:
I arm? And make my creed of brotherhood
The bauble for a rich man to affect –
New button for his coat to keep him snug,
When class winds blew a little angrily!

THE SOLDIER [in utter scorn]:
That dream is done – the hour hath struck, I say!

THE MAN:
Years, fortune I have pledged to prove it true;
Think thou of all those youth, by me led on –

THE SOLDIER:
All now in battle, urging to the front!

THE MAN:
Those in that other land – my brothers, too!

THE SOLDIER:
At point of bayonet now! Brothers! – I pray,
Hast thou ne’er heard the one word patriot?

THE MAN:
My country is the world, my countrymen all –
All of mankind! this have I trumpeted forth
To all my young disciples – eager, brave,
Hanging upon my every word – and now –

[The bugle calls again.]

THE SOLDIER [beseechingly]:
Oh, friend, we are forming, and the moments fly –
Short shrift have they for all who flinch today –
Thy name is called – for God’s sake, up – to arms!

[The bugle sounds again. Conscripts hurry down the street and the soldier follows. The child, no longer mindful of the quiet man, brooding alone at the other side of the tree, rushes to his father.]

CHILD:
The soldiers – they are marching – let me go!

FATHER:
Nay, there is time! the regiment sets forth
No single step till noon.

CHILD:
And we will go
Down to the market square to see them off?

FATHER:
Give me but peace to finish out my task –
Look now, ’tis nearly done!

CHILD:
Aye, so it is?
But one more cruel spike! How canst thou do it?
Oh, such a suffering face!

[The man by the tree leans nearer, listening, listening.]

FATHER:
I told thee, child,
‘Tis for the churches, lest men should forget
How ’twas He died to save the world from sin.

CHILD:
Had He no soldiers brave enough to fight?
As thou didst for the King, until they were lame,
Or put in prison? – aye, or shot down dead?
Our King hath millions that can kill and kill
All day and night to help him have his way.

FATHER:
Sure thou must know, my child, ’twas He who said:
Thou shalt not kill; or hast thou clean forgot
All they strive hard to teach thee in the church?

CHILD:
Then if they hang this in the church for men
To see and to remember how He said –

FATHER:
Hush! for a minute – see – one last fine touch
Here at His wounded feet – so – it is done?
The best I ever wrought!

[The man by the tree has risen; catching sight of him, the child snatches the crucifix from his father’s lap and runs toward the stranger.]

CHILD:
Look, look, ’tis finished!

[The man seizes the cross, as soldiers rush toward him, headed by his friend.]

FRIEND [beseechingly]:
Thou goest?

THE MAN [raising the cross]:
I stay!

FRIEND:
Thou art mad!

ANOTHER [smiting him across the mouth]:
Coward!

AN OFFICER:
Thou’lt stay!

[The soldiers fall back; a shot is fired. The bugle sounds long and loud; many, many follow; but one stays; the child sees him lying prone, and with a piteous cry runs to him, lifting the cross from where it lies beside him.]

CHILD:
He held it high; they saw; and they forgot!

FATHER [taking it from him angrily]:
‘Tis for the priests to hold – not such as he!

CHILD [insistently, following toward the house]:
Why did they kill him, father? Tell me why?

[But never an answer comes. The cross is laid away, and the father leads his child to where the bugles are calling, calling.]

Categories: Uncategorized

James George Frazer: Purifying the defilement of war

November 2, 2020 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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James George Frazer
From The Golden Bough

The general effect of these observances is to place the warrior, both before and after victory, in the same state of seclusion or spiritual quarantine in which, for his own safety, primitive man puts his human gods and other dangerous characters….When on their way home they came within a day’s march of the village, they hung up all their bowls on trees, or threw them away on the prairie, doubtless to prevent their sanctity or defilement from being communicated with disastrous effects to their friends….

If the reader still doubts whether the rules of conduct which we have just been considering are based on superstitious fears or dictated by a rational prudence, his doubts will probably be dissipated when he learns that rules of the same sort are often imposed even more stringently on warriors after the victory has been won and when all fear of the living corporeal foe is at an end. In such cases one motive for the inconvenient restrictions laid on the victors in their hour of triumph is probably a dread of the angry ghosts of the slain; and that the fear of the vengeful ghosts does influence the behaviour of the slayers is often expressly affirmed. The general effect of the taboos laid on sacred chiefs, mourners, women at childbirth, men on the war-path, and so on, is to seclude or isolate the tabooed persons from ordinary society, this effect being attained by a variety of rules, which oblige the men or women to live in separate huts or in the open air, to shun the commerce of the sexes, to avoid the use of vessels employed by others, and so forth. Now the same effect is produced by similar means in the case of victorious warriors, particularly such as have actually shed the blood of their enemies. In the island of Timor, when a warlike expedition has returned in triumph bringing the heads of the vanquished foe, the leader of the expedition is forbidden by religion and custom to return at once to his own house. A special hut is prepared for him, in which he has to reside for two months, undergoing bodily and spiritual purification. During this time he may not go to his wife nor feed himself; the food must be put into his mouth by another person. That these observances are dictated by fear of the ghosts of the slain seems certain; for from another account of the ceremonies performed on the return of a successful head-hunter in the same island we learn that sacrifices are offered on this occasion to appease the soul of the man whose head has been taken; the people think that some misfortune would befall the victor were such offerings omitted. Moreover, a part of the ceremony consists of a dance accompanied by a song, in which the death of the slain man is lamented and his forgiveness is entreated. “Be not angry,” they say, “because your head is here with us; had we been less lucky, our heads might now have been exposed in your village. We have offered the sacrifice to appease you. Your spirit may now rest and leave us at peace. Why were you our enemy? Would it not have been better that we should remain friends? Then your blood would not have been spilt and your head would not have been cut off.” The people of Paloo in Central Celebes take the heads of their enemies in war and afterwards propitiate the souls of the slain in the temple.

Among the tribes at the mouth of the Wanigela River, in New Guinea, “a man who has taken life is considered to be impure until he has undergone certain ceremonies: as soon as possible after the deed he cleanses himself and his weapon. This satisfactorily accomplished, he repairs to his village and seats himself on the logs of sacrificial staging. No one approaches him or takes any notice whatever of him. A house is prepared for him which is put in charge of two or three small boys as servants….

Among the Basutos “ablution is specially performed on return from battle. It is absolutely necessary that the warriors should rid themselves, as soon as possible, of the blood they have shed, or the shades of their victims would pursue them incessantly, and disturb their slumbers. They go in a procession, and in full armour, to the nearest stream. At the moment they enter the water a diviner, placed higher up, throws some purifying substances into the current. This is, however, not strictly necessary. The javelins and battle-axes also undergo the process of washing.” Among the Bageshu of East Africa a man who has killed another may not return to his own house on the same day, though he may enter the village and spend the night in a friend’s house….Among the Angoni, to the north of the Zambesi, warriors who have slain foes on an expedition smear their bodies and faces with ashes, hang garments of their victims on their persons, and tie bark ropes round their necks, so that the ends hang down over their shoulders or breasts. This costume they wear for three days after their return, and rising at break of day they run through the village uttering frightful yells to drive away the ghosts of the slain, which, if they were not thus banished from the houses, might bring sickness and misfortune on the inmates.

In some of these accounts nothing is said of an enforced seclusion, at least after the ceremonial cleansing, but some South African tribes certainly require the slayer of a very gallant foe in war to keep apart from his wife and family for ten days after he has washed his body in running water. He also receives from the tribal doctor a medicine which he chews with his food. When a Nandi of East Africa has killed a member of another tribe, he paints one side of his body, spear, and sword red, and the other side white. For four days after the slaughter he is considered unclean and may not go home. He has to build a small shelter by a river and live there; he may not associate with his wife or sweetheart, and he may eat nothing but porridge, beef, and goat’s flesh. At the end of the fourth day he must purify himself by taking a strong purge made from the bark of the segetet tree and by drinking goat’s milk mixed with blood. Among the Bantu tribes of Kavirondo, when a man has killed an enemy in warfare he shaves his head on his return home, and his friends rub a medicine, which generally consists of goat’s dung, over his body to prevent the spirit of the slain man from troubling him. Exactly the same custom is practised for the same reason by the Wageia of East Africa. With the Ja-Luo of Kavirondo the custom is somewhat different. Three days after his return from the fight the warrior shaves his head….In the Pelew Islands, when the men return from a warlike expedition in which they have taken a life, the young warriors who have been out fighting for the first time, and all who handled the slain, are shut up in the large council-house and become tabooed. They may not quit the edifice, nor bathe, nor touch a woman, nor eat fish; their food is limited to coco-nuts and syrup. They rub themselves with charmed leaves and chew charmed betel. After three days they go together to bathe as near as possible to the spot where the man was killed.

Among the Natchez Indians of North America young braves who had taken their first scalps were obliged to observe certain rules of abstinence for six months. They might not sleep with their wives nor eat flesh; their only food was fish and hasty-pudding….When a Choctaw had killed an enemy and taken his scalp, he went into mourning for a month, during which he might not comb his hair, and if his head itched he might not scratch it except with a little stick which he wore fastened to his wrist for the purpose. This ceremonial mourning for the enemies they had slain was not uncommon among the North American Indians.

Thus we see that warriors who have taken the life of a foe in battle are temporarily cut off from free intercourse with their fellows, and especially with their wives, and must undergo certain rites of purification before they are readmitted to society.

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Louise B. Waite: Let There Be Peace

November 1, 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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Louise B. Waite
Let There Be Peace

When chaos reigned, and all unformed was man,
The great creative Fatherhood of God
Proclaimed in mighty tones, “Let there be Light!”
And in that Light creation did appear.
Today a mental chaos doth prevail.
Man seeks as savage beast with brutal power
To kill and to destroy his brother man.
Hark! Hark! another voice must yet be heard
Above the chaos of earth’s battlefields,
Above the wild delirium of war.
E’en through the heart of woman now it speaks
And shall be heard the Mother voice Divine!
She who hath borne in hours of pain and death
Strong, manly sons, only to give them up,
To see them slain before her very eyes,
Amid the din of battle and its roar,
Its useless sacrifice of all she holds most dear
To avarice, the hellish greed of man, –
Her voice doth cry, and nations now must hear.
“Let war forever cease”! The voice that said
“Let there be Light”! hath rent again the veil
Of darkest night, and cries, “Let there be Peace”!
In mighty tones above earth’s bloodstained sod,
High, clear, now speaks that Mother voice of God.

Categories: Uncategorized

Jan Oberg: The Lost Peace Discourse and the Arts as a Possible Way Out?

October 31, 2020 2 comments

Dear Jan:

Have just read “The Lost Peace Discourse and the Arts as a Possible Way Out?” and remain deeply moved.

I’ve followed your brave and selfless work for over twenty years and have long been in arrears in expressing my gratitude. And my affection.

In my humble manner, and with the limited artistic appreciation at my disposal, I’ve made the following contribution to the cause of literature and peace. I’d like to share it with you.

The main page is here:
https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/

Would like to highlight this from Oscar Wilde in particular:
https://rickrozoff.wordpress.com/2011/06/16/oscar-wilde-antidote-to-war/

Yours for peace against all apparent odds,
Rick Rozoff
Chicago
U.S.A.

The lost peace discourse and the arts as a possible way out?
Jan Oberg
October 8, 2020
Originally published as an editorial on the Transcend Media Service, TMS

The discourse about, or for, peace has mostly disappeared over the last 2-3 decades. It applies to research (and its non-governmental funding possibilities), to politics in general and to the media.

In foreign and security politics, the intellectual level is now such that it does not even seem strange to decision-makers that they never obtain peace advice or consult peace experts. The fantasy-assumption is that if only there is enough military ‘security’ means applied to enough societal problems, peace will automatically come about.

I can’t remember having heard a parliamentarian or minister mention or conceptualise peace beyond the level of the state dinner speech – that is, devoid of theoretical and factual content as well as of meaning.

The mainstream media have no one who can focus on peace – not to mention, do peace journalism with professional conflict analysis. Military, political, psychological and economic warfare as well as interventions – usually in the fake-and-omission mode – dominate the reporting.

Remarkably, that applies also to those who are firmly against these types of policies: the focus is critical but seldom constructive: What should and can be done? Think Chomsky.

Living in Sweden, I cannot remember the last 20 or so years to have seen a peace perspective applied to the world or a particular conflict by any mainstream media in the Nordic countries. There is simply no editors, reporters or journalists who are specialised in such a perspective. And “peace people” seem barred from those media.

So the peace discourse has vanished. Peace made invisible. Peace being treated as the big benign Godot in the middle of the room that everybody, knowingly or not, pretends will never come and is unrealistic – that is, irrelevant and much more unrealistic than the ongoing militarism, nuclearism, interventionism and ongoing destruction of that Nature on which we are all dependent and with which we must all have a partnership.

Those of us who have been engaged in international matters for about half a century are seen as survivors of a culture gone by – the culture, thinking, researching and action for peace. Welcome to the Museum of Peace and its niks…

In other words, in the corridors of today’s more or less kakistocratic (” a government that is ruled by the least suitable, able, or experienced people”) power circles, the word ‘peace’ will be met with silence, ridiculed, considered overly idealistic/unrealistic out of time and place.

Conclusion on those points: We should simply just continue in spite of all – lit the light in that darkness ’cause the times will change. If you work out of conviction, passion or talent – like, say, a composer – you don’t stop just because you don’t get attention. You continue because you are passionate about your values and goals and because – precisely in these times – you have a delightfully different story to tell: that peace is possible and by no measure unrealistic but requires different thinking, knowledge and policies.

This leads me to continue saying that we must change this fact: 95% of the people in the West, devote 95% of their energies to the world as it is – criticising this or that, producing diagnoses and prognoses, predicting catastrophes, issuing warnings and fighting each other about the right interpretation or making up conspiracies and propaganda.

But such negative energy will get us exactly nowhere:

• When you fall ill, you don’t fancy a doctor who does only diagnosis and prognosis but hasn’t got a clue about your treatment, do you?

• The focus ought to be on the better futures that are possible – imagining them and finding ways to reach them – together. Dear Elise Boulding always rightly told us that what people cannot imagine they won’t work for.

• We know more than enough about today’s problems to now attend creatively to what could be instead of what is: that is, a little of wisdom built on top of knowledge – as E F” Small is Beautiful” Schumacher expressed it: We are now so knowledgeable that we cannot do without wisdom.

In short, positive energy put into visualising and “visionising”…

This leads me in this short article – as well as in my own life – to the question: What about art?

Can the arts become one of the building blocks of the necessary bridge between what is and what could be? Between criticism and constructivism? Between now/here and vision/strategy towards different future(s)? Between the blindness of the information avalanche and the seeing of a better future?

I believe it can – however with the qualification “in principle” or ”theoretically”.

Art is fundamentally about seeing something less visible or not readily visible. It’s about realising something that does not yet exist but comes bursting out of the imagination. It’s about doing old things in new ways or doing what has never been done before.

Art is based on an emotionally/intuitively expressive urge to say something – also beyond empirical reality – to make a wake-up call to fellow global citizens. It’s the thing the artist does because she or he can do nothing better than exactly that.

True art is existential – no matter today’s perverted commercial “art market” and “art industry” (and some who are inside that are indeed true artists anyhow, complicated and contradictory as it may seem).

If you can’t hear those defining qualities in, say, Beethoven’s symphonies or in Dylan’s poetry-music, if you cannot see it in Helen Frankenthaler’s paintings, sense it in Tolstoy’s writings, or in Boulding’s writings – and Gandhi’s and King’s too – there is nothing I can do to explain what I mean.

But there is still at least one problem on my mind: Why is so much of the arts also focused more – much more – on violence, war, evil, death, drama, killing, aggression and suffering?

Why is so little of it motivated by or conveying life-confirming stuff such as reconciliation, forgiveness, harmony, diversity, development, cooperation, joy, conviviality … and peace?

Why is so much of it on problems rather than solutions? On history/present more than on the future?

The classical discussion – are humans fundamentally good or evil? – can be extended to: Do humans pay attention mostly to good or to evil? To problems or solutions? And that is much more easy to answer.

Perhaps you now think that I am exaggerating and that these matters can simply not be quantified. That’s a valid argument but I believe we should try to dialogue about it anyhow.

Many of the great works in literature, films, music, and paintings build on themes of violence and destruction and take their inspiration in the dark sides of human and societal nature, behaviour and actions. They ask the question why the past and present world is evil – rather than stimulate our imagination to perceive the better world as it could be – to paraphrase George Bernhard Shaw.

I was reminded of that when recently I went to the leading photography festival in Sweden, if not in Scandinavia – the Landskrona Photo Festival – which I always visit because I am also an art photographer.

Beyond any doubt, it shows high average quality, considerable diversity, many and highly topical themes – all the attributes defining fine curatorship.

So what was my problem?

Well, that at least 40% of the exhibited works focus on war, genocide, massacre, concentration camps, the suffering of particular groups of people, refugees and other ‘damned of the earth.’ And that much of the rest is either expressive of de-politicising identity issues or experimental photography, constructed, stage-set or hybrid, formalistic.

And it’s all pretty lifeless! No humour, satire, no attempt to depict beauty, conviviality, happiness. Or make the spectator think about peace and other positive values.

I mean, what is the point of displaying yet another series of (documentary) images of skeletons from various massacres in the narrow, dark prison cells of a Citadel?

Is the assumption, perhaps, the – naive – one like the one surrounding Hiroshima and hibakusha films and photos, namely that by showing them the audience will be appalled and become more critical or warfare and other types of violence?

Is it part of the broader “violence industry” in which we also find the museums of wars and massacres and Holocaust?

Or is it that it hits us emotionally and get an “automatic” mileage, a little like if a photographer takes portraits of celebrities rather than non-celebrities, then she or he becomes famous more easily?

Why are there so many more images in this world of destruction than of construction, of violence than of peace?

The very important World Press Photo contest is another – worse – example. Just look at the photos on the link.

It’s filled with violence and suffering – and I am relatively sure that those who run these contests and festivals are not even aware of that bias or have discussed it. As if reality or the imagination or the creative impulse could not also be expressed through images of beauty and peace?

Perhaps we have come so far down the mental slippery slope that war and destruction is considered (un- or subconsciously) to be more ‘realistic’ and significant or ‘normal’ and everyday-like than peace, love, cooperation and beauty?

We live in an age influenced much more by images than by text and even sound – also because everybody has become a kind of photographer.

What the hundreds of images we more or less consciously perceive during a day through all sorts of media tell us about the world is extremely important in shaping our worldview.

Well, you may say, it’s always been the case that the negative dominated and fascinated us, hasn’t it? Perhaps.

But if so, let’s become a bit more peace-creative and re-balance it all!

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Dana Burnet: Napoleon’s Tomb

October 31, 2020 Leave a comment

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

American writers on peace and against war

Dana Burnet: War

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Dana Burnet
Napoleon’s Tomb (1918)

Through the great doors, where Paris flowed incessant,
Fell certain dimness, as of some poised hour,
Caught from the ashes of the Infinite
And prisoned there in solemn purple state,
To make illusion for dead majesty!
A dusk of greatness, such as well might brood
Beneath the wings of Destiny’s proud day;
A calm, immortal twilight mantling up
To the great dome, where painted triumph rides
High o ‘er the dust that once bestrode it all
Nor ever fame had fairer firmament!
It was as though Ambition still should live
In marble over him; as though his dream
From whose high tower and colored casements round
He, with a royal thievery in his eye,
Did look upon the apple of a world
Should take this shape, and being clothed with walls,
Stand, in such permanence as matter gives,
To house his glory through the centuries.

Then I went in, with Paris pressing slow,
And saw the long blue shadows folding down
Upon the casket of the Emperor.
A soldier in a faded uniform
Stood close beside me. He was one of those
Who die and leave no lament on the wind…
And straightway gazing on him I beheld
Not death’s magnificence; not fame’s hushed tomb
But grim Oblivion, and the fields of France!
And on some nameless hillside, where the night
Sets out wild flaming candles for the dead,
Innumerable corpses palely sprawled
Beneath the silent, cold, anonymous stars.

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John Galsworthy: Valley of the Shadow

October 30, 2020 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

John Galsworthy: Selections on war

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John Galsworthy
Valley of the Shadow

God, I am travelling out to death’s sea,
I, who exulted in sunshine and laughter,
Thought not of dying – death is such waste of me!
Grant me one comfort: Leave not the hereafter
Of mankind to war, as though I had died not
I, who in battle, my comrade’s arm linking,
Shouted and sang – life in my pulses hot
Throbbing and dancing! Let not my sinking
In dark be for naught, my death a vain thing!
God, let me know it the end of man’s fever!
Make my last breath a bugle call, carrying
Peace o’er the valleys and cold hills, for ever!

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Frank Walcott Hutt: The Peace Congress

October 29, 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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Frank Walcott Hutt
The Peace Congress

O wise men of the prophet-mood,
What of the dove of Peace – how soon
Shall she, forth faring night and noon,
Beside our thresholds brood?

O seers of many lands, what cheer?
What tidings of the dove, whose way
Is lost, is lost this many a day?
Is her home-coming near?

We, too, have watched while ye have prayed,
We, too, have kept the faith, and still
With every prophet on his hill
Yearn for the far-estrayed.

Above the war-cloud, fierce and gray,
Beyond the field where conflict rings,
Where shall she spread descending wings –
Good priest and rabbi, say?

O brothers, shall this be a sign,
That from your distant isles ye bear
Memorials devout and rare
Unto this common shrine?

O message-bearers, that confess
A greater than an age of gold,
Is this again the Voice of old
Heard in the wilderness?

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John Keats: Sonnet on Peace

October 28, 2020 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

John Keats: Days innocent of scathing war

John Keats: The fierce intoxicating tones of trumpets, drums and cannon

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John Keats
Sonnet on Peace

O Peace! and dost thou with thy presence bless
The dwellings of this war-surrounded Isle;
Soothing with placid brow our late distress,
Making the triple kingdom brightly smile?
Joyful I hail thy presence; and I hail
The sweet companions that await on thee;
Complete my joy let not my first wish fail,
Let the sweet mountain nymph thy favourite be,
With England’s happiness proclaim Europa’s Liberty.
O Europe! let not sceptred tyrants see
That thou must shelter in thy former state;
Keep thy chains burst, and boldly say thou art free;
Give thy kings law leave not uncurbed the great;
So with the horrors past thou’lt win thy happier fate!

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Mabel Thomson: A child’s ideal of soldiering

October 27, 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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Mabel Thomson
A Child’s Ideal

He was a shock-headed urchin, as rosy, as chubby, as ragged as a boy could be, but I am glad to remember that his face was clean.

I was coming home from town, my arms full of various little parcels accumulated in the course of an after noon’s shopping expedition. He was also coming home from the town, and he caught up with me at the end of the street from whence a crowd of children pouring told of the afternoon’s work in a board school being finished. He ran alongside for a few steps, and then commenced to slide with much vigor upon the pavement.

The sliding was an artistic and finished performance. His hob-nailed shoes – I am glad to remember that, in spite of the rags, he was well shod – made a most excruciating and ear-splitting screak on the flags. It was not until the third or fourth repetition of this display that I realized by the upturned, roguish glance of the merry dark eyes, that it was intended for my especial amusement, and that I was obviously expected to comment upon it. So I said the first thing that came into my head, ” That’s not very good for your boots!”

For answer, he edged a little nearer to the wall, and silently displayed the sole of first one boot and then the other. They were studded with nails, long and heavy, but worn shiny by much athletic exercise of the kind described. I walked on somewhat abashed. But though the little Arab had finished his sliding, I was not yet to be rid of his attentions, for he walked by my side, keeping step, for all the world as if we were coming back from that shopping expedition together.

Now I had passed that street end scores of times just when the board school was emptying its crowd of noisy, shouting youngsters into the road, but never before had one of them detached himself from the rest with the obvious intention of making my acquaintance. There are board schools in the city where more than a score of lusty young voices would claim hearty good fellowship if I happened to pass at closing time; but among the scholars in this particular school I had no acquaintances. I felt there was more than chance in the encounter. Perhaps my Master had sent him to me. If it was so, I should soon find out the reason. I would talk to him.

“Had he been to school?”- “Yes.” “Did he learn to read and write and spell?” “Yes.” “Could he do sums – addition, subtraction, multiplication?” “More’n them,” he answered indignantly, “I’m in fractions!” “Where did he live?” The answer showed that our way lay together for more than half a mile yet. Inquiries as to his home and relations elicited the fact that his father was dead, that he lived with his mother and several little brothers and sisters, the home being provided for by a brother of the dead father, who lived with them. A poor enough home, as the words and rags showed, but not afflicted with that dire need of food that would send a child to a stranger’s side in hope of a meal. I would question him further.

“And what do you intend to be when you grow to be a man?” I asked.

“A soldier!”

The answer came so promptly and with such evident relish that I almost forgot that it showed me the reason for our sudden acquaintance and absorbing conversation. I looked down at him – he had nearly forgotten the strange lady who asked so many questions. In his eyes were visions of scarlet-coated regiments, in his ears the sound of horses’ feet, led by noise of bugle and band. I brought him back to realities.

“Why do you choose to be a soldier?”

He hesitated – “O, soldiers are strong and big; I want to be strong and big.”

“It is not the soldiering that makes men big and strong,” I said. “Is there any other reason for your choice?”

“It’s grand to be a soldier,” he said, looking down at his rags; “look at their clothes!”

“Is it grand,” I asked him, ” when the regiments are ordered out to battle, and hundreds of men on both sides are killed who have boys at home like you, needing food and clothes? Is it grand when mothers are left alone to bring up the boys and girls because the fathers have been killed by dreadful wounds in a war?”

This was an argument he could understand, and he looked uncertain. But our ways were soon to separate, and I hastened to bring him to higher ground. In a very few words and very simply I told him of One who came to earth as a little child, and whose blessed name was “Prince of Peace.” He, this Prince of Peace, was captain of an army whose watchword was Love, and whose battles were fought without bloodshed, but with every noble quality of bravery and courage that boy hood most admires. Our Father in Heaven had sent his own Son to teach us to be good, and to love everybody, even our enemies, – would it not be better to enlist under his banner? Would it not be better to be a railway man as his father had been, and fight life’s battles for mother and the baby?

It was a good deal for the little Arab to take in during the course of one short walk, – I am not quite sure that he understood it all, – but he nodded his head silently, and I thought I saw a tear. We had walked very slowly, but had come to the parting of the ways at last. What had I among my little parcels to bestow as a parting gift? Alas, my shopping was of a very grown-up nature, but I remembered the purchase of a small india-rubber pig that squeaked when you blew it up. Well that might serve, and the more favored child for whom it was in tended might wait.

I handed it over and walked away, pondering on the strange ways in which a servant of the King may be called upon to speak for Him, and as I gave one backward look, I saw my little Arab standing where I had left him, with the india-rubber pig clasped tightly to his breast. I hoped he was pondering too.

Categories: Uncategorized

George Shepard Burleigh: When shall the crystal fount of Peace wash out the hideous stain of blood?

October 26, 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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George Shepard Burleigh
How Long?

When shall the noise of battle cease,
With red Bellona’s crimson flood?
When shall the crystal fount of Peace
Wash out the hideous stain of blood?

Almost two thousand years of Christ
Above the bleeding earth have rolled,
Still man by man is sacrificed
As on the Moloch shrines of old!

Unnumbered temples rise to claim
The Prince of Peace for sovereign Lord;
Yet millions in His holy name
Baptize the murder-seeking sword.

O, shameless mockery of hell!
To prate of peace while rending homes
Of wives and babes with shot and shell,
That wrap in fire their temple domes!

How long, O Lord of love, how long
Shalt Thou be served with double tongue,
And paeans of victorious wrong
Before thy altar-fires be sung?

Ye nations, taught in Holy books
To serve with love the Lord of lords,
Your vines demand their pruning-hooks,
The blameless plowshares need your swords!

Categories: Uncategorized

Ovid: I had naught to do with war, guardian was I of peace and doorways

October 25, 2020 Leave a comment

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

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

Ovid: Golden Age, before weapons were warm and bloodstained from killing

Ovid: Instead of a wolf the timorous ewes dread war

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Ovid
From The Fasti
Translated by James G. Frazer

Let others sing of Caesar’s wars; my theme be Caesar’s altars and the days he added to the sacred roll.

Caesaris arma canant alii: nos Caesaris aras, et quoscumque sacris addidit ille dies.

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Two-headed Janus, opener of the softly gliding year, thou who alone of the celestials dost behold thy back, come propitious to the chiefs whose toil ensures peace to the fruitful earth, peace to the sea.

Iane biceps, anni tacite labentis origo,
solus de superis qui tua terga vides,
dexter ades ducibus, quorum secura labore
otia terra ferax, otia pontus habet:

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When I choose to send forth peace from tranquil halls, she freely walks the ways unhindered. But with blood and slaughter the whole world would welter, did not the bars unbending hold the barricadoed wars. I sit at heaven’s gate with the gentle Hours;

cum libuit Pacem placidis emittere tectis,
libera perpetuas ambulat ilia vias:
sanguine letifero totus miscebitur orbis,
ni teneant rigidae condita bella serae.
praesideo foribus caeli cum mitibus Horis:

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I reigned in days when earth could bear with gods, and divinities moved freely in the abodes of men. The sin of mortals had not yet put Justice to flight (she was the last of the celestials to forsake the earth): honour’s self, not fear, ruled the people without appeal to force: toil there was none to expound the right to righteous men. I had naught to do with war: guardian was I of peace and doorways, and these,” quoth he, showing the key, “these be the arms I bear.”

tunc ego regnabam, patiens cum terra deorum
esset, et humanis numina mixta locis.
nondum lustitiam facinus mortale fugarat
(ultima de superis ilia reliquit humum),
proque metu populum sine vi pudor ipse regebat;
nullus erat iustis reddere iura labor,
nil mihi cum bello: pacem postesque tuebar
et” clavem ostendens “haec” ait “arma gero.”

Categories: Uncategorized

John Horn: False Ideas About War and Peace

October 24, 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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John Horn
False Ideas About War and Peace

How the angels in heaven must weep and those in hell laugh at the sorrowful plight in which the nations of the world now present themselves! It is nigh two thousand years since the Man of Peace commanded, saying, “Put up thy sword into the sheath.” Only to-day, and even reluctantly, have the civilized and Christian nations assembled in delegation to consider the practicability of this command. Only to-day, and the world, led by its stump orators and sensational journalists, treats the whole affair as a fiasco, as a Utopia which only deserves serious consideration among the dreamers of the millennium. Disarmament? Pshaw! Life is a struggle, a contest. War is a very undesirable and sorrowful thing, but it is in strict accordance with the laws of nature. No nation can be great without it. All history proclaims that the people who cannot or will not fight must perish. There is no room for weaklings or cowards. It is the merest sentimentalism to cry over it. Let us be brave, heroic, patriotic. At the sacrifice of the few the many shall live.

Such, in brief, is the doctrine presented by those who tell us that war is a necessary factor in the civilization and elevation of humanity. And this doctrine, while it is as false as the devil in principle and fatal as hell in its effects, is still accepted by civilized and Christian countries as the only reasonable and practicable doctrine for solving international disputes.

And so the world continues to move in the same old way – round and round – never forward or onward. Humanity, howling, cursing, swearing, continues its circular march, wades through the blood-stained fields and over the blood-stained hills, dyeing them a deeper crimson and adding to the number of dead carcasses over which it tramples. It believes in peace, not the peace of the river, but the peace of the ocean which bears on its calm surface the wrecks and ruins of a roaring tempest. It believes in peace, but it is the peace obtained at the point of the bayonet or the mouth of the cannon. And so to-day every nation is busily engaged increasing its army and navy. Men are working day and night manufacturing the instruments of peace – battleships and gunpowder. Each nation believes itself to be specially fitted and specially predestined by the Lord of Hosts for uniting under one flag the peoples of the earth. But this union will not be a united brotherhood, it will be a united serfdom. Its accomplishments will not be by the sword of the Spirit, but by the spirit of the sword.

And yet amidst all this turmoil and strife and uproar we need not despair. It is not necessary to banish hope entirely. There are voices other than the voice of Death. Amidst all the bellowings that proceed from the throats of the rulers of the earth; amidst the march of armed men; amidst the clash of steel and roar of cannon, there may still be heard a voice from the highest heavens proclaiming, “Be still and know that I am God.” He that hath an ear let him hear.

And yet, it may be asked, “Is not the voice of God heard in battle?” I am afraid not. Certain it is that the voice of the devil is heard much oftener, asking, after the dead lie buried in the dust, the same old diabolical question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Still the voice of God is there if it could only be heard, speaking in words most clear and distinct and emphatic, “Thou shalt not kill”; “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” But is not war beneficial in creating some of the best qualities in man, such as the skill of the physician and the tenderness of the nurse? That it affords abundant opportunity for the practice of such qualities is only too sorrowfully true. That it stimulates and quickens them is also granted. That it creates them is most untrue. They are simply latent qualities brought into exercise. It is an undoubted blessing for the victims of war to have such qualities displayed in their interest, but it is sad indeed to require the blessing. It is mere nonsense to advocate war by such argument. Here is a locomotive moving along not too speedily. A man thinks he can cross the track before it reaches him. He has miscalculated its speed. The engine strikes him and he is severely injured. Quickly an ambulance patrol arrives, and in it he is carried to the hospital, where he receives the skill of the physician and the tender care of the nurse. Are railroad accidents beneficial? Shall we advocate the desirability of multiplying them?

Again, it may be asked, “Is not war the foundation of all science and art?” If by science is meant the invention of all kinds of instruments for the wholesale destruction of human life, then war is the foundation of all science. So rapidly and so skillfully are we progressing in this science that, in a short time, the most scientific nation will be able to force its enemy to turn on a strong current of electricity and exterminate itself, just as we now do in the case of condemned murderers. But if by science is meant a knowledge of nature, and if we include the invention of those instruments which are helpful in the attainment of such knowledge, then science has nothing to do with war, except as an object of destruction. An army of soldiers has no more regard for a scientific laboratory than a herd of cattle for the flowers of the field wherein they are grazing. Students of science, like all other students, pursue their studies not amidst tumult and uproar, but where there is quietness and peace. The roar of cannon and the roar of infuriated armed men is no incentive to them. War minimizes the possibilities for scientific progress. It cannot, therefore, be the foundation of science.

And now as to war being the foundation of art, what is to be said? We are told that art nourishes only in those countries whose people are imbued with a spirit to fight and who delight in war. An agricultural nation has no artistic quality, a manufacturing one is essentially opposed to war. When it is pointed out that the ancient Romans, whose great empire was built and maintained by war, were not by any means lovers or producers of art, we are told that at heart they must have been a class of farmers and not soldiers! We speak of the pen being mightier than the sword, but this is only the idle talk of an uncivilized agricultural nation or of a degenerate manufacturing one, if the foregoing theory be true. If such be true, then the sword would be mightier than the pen, the brush and the chisel put together. Nay, it would be more. The virtue and magic of these art instruments would owe their origin to the sword. What a weary and monotonous world this would be without war! There would be nothing beautiful to cheer and elevate us. There would be no art, no literature, no paintings, no sculpture. There would be simply a race of people totally depraved by a mania for agriculture and manufacture, because, alas, too ignoble to fight! But if war is the foundation of art, why not perpetuate the realities of it? Why not chisel out to us on stone, the least perishable, a few thousand skulls with crossbones?

Why not paint us pictures as we paint our hills and dales with blood? Why not write us a few epics of the weaklings of the earth who were unable to adapt themselves to the environment of an elevated and noble civilization-war?

The late Mr. John Ruskin, the greatest exponent of the theory that war is the foundation or creative principle of all that is great and true and noble in humanity, was forced to admit that all modern war is murder, that it created nothing but tombs. Since modern war is all that affects us in modern times, we need not trouble ourselves further with the effects of ancient or “classic” war.

There is one other argument commonly expressed, although never uttered on platform or published in news paper or magazine, which proclaims the benefits that accrue from war. We are told that, the labor market being overrun with wage-earners, what is required is a war conducted on an extensive scale, so that such a deplorable condition of affairs may be remedied. Let us chop off a few thousand heads, then there shall be work for all. The most sorrowful thing about this argument is its advocacy by workingmen. How it ever entered their heads and gained expressed approval, God only knows. Still it may be heard in the workshop, in the club-room and on the street. I have no intention of discussing this question here to-night. To do so would be an insult to your intelligence. I mention it simply to illustrate the extreme folly and degradation to which the masses have descended. Of all the foulness and corruption that proceeds from sooty hell, this is the most criminal and most accursed.

There are other theories and arguments by which an endeavor is made to prove, not only that war is justifiable, but that it is an essential factor in the progress and elevation of humanity. I trust, however, in dealing with the foregoing theories and arguments, I may at least have proved helpful in my endeavor to show you that, in the present condition of the world’s civilization and enlightenment, with all the opportunities afforded for arbitration and mediation, war is neither justifiable nor elevating. It may have been necessary, it may have been elevating in the infancy and early history of a savage and uncivilized world, but at the eve of the twentieth century of Christian teaching, it is nothing short of murder, and murder in its most brutal, vicious and degrading form. Now, I do not assert that the modern soldier is a murderer. What I do assert is that all modern war is murder whoever is responsible for the crime committed. The soldier of every nation generally thinks that he is engaged in a noble and holy cause. In thinking thus he thinks wrongly. Still he thinks as he has been taught. We have all been taught to believe in the righteousness of war; taught to believe that the extension of territory for commercial purposes is more valuable than human life. The worst thing about this teaching is that the Church upholds it. We might justly say, therefore, that the Church deserves greater condemnation than any of its co-partners in this great crime.

But I shall not specially accuse or condemn it. We are all responsible and deserving of condemnation, unless we are opposing it in some form or manner. The ministry or government that declares war, the minister or priest who prays that the enemy may be completely vanquished, the great mass of humanity who receive with joyous acclamation the news of the massacre of the enemy, all are responsible for this great crime of murder. I cannot, therefore, my brother, join you in your cheer of victory.

I weep for the victims; weep because of the homes that have been broken up and for the hearts that have been made sad; but, more than anything else, I weep for you in your cheers. Still I am not without hope, not without courage. I believe the day is nigh at hand when I too shall cheer; shall cheer for the victory, not of the strong over the weak, but of the strong for the weak; shall cheer, not for the power that destroys, but for the power that helps and saves; shall cheer when the nations of the earth are united, not to blow the life out of each other, but to breathe a newer and higher life into each other.

This is the season that inspires us with hope. The winter has gone and spring has reappeared. In the vegetable kingdom the manifestations of life proclaim the coming of spring when the fields and woods will greet us with the beauty and fragrance of their flowers and blossoms. What a beautiful scene it would be if a similar manifestation could be witnessed in the animal kingdom, in one branch of it at least, that of man.

What a glorious transformation it would be. I have hoped that such a change will soon take place. And in my hope I would fain desire that the present year may mark the close of the world’s winter, which has been so long, so dreary, so desolate and so tragic in its history.

I would fain desire that the coming year, the year 1901, whether it commences a new century or not, may commence a new era, even the spring of a higher and nobler life in man. The spring once with us, the summer would soon appear, when there would bloom up in our midst flowers more beautiful than the lily or the rose. Instead of witnessing on the field and on the hillside those ghastly mutilated forms, bruised and broken and destroyed by the implements of war, with less thought and with a lighter heart than is displayed in plucking the weeds from the ground, there would spring up all over the land a multitude of flowers, which in their grace and symmetry of form, in their virtue and light and love, in all their varied manifestations of life, would proclaim the fulfillment of the prophecy of the angels at the birth of the Son of Man, “On earth peace, goodwill toward men.”

My hope for the future lies in the good work already accomplished at the recent Hague Conference, which is but the prologue of what may be achieved in the near future. I say good work already accomplished, because even at that first conference much has been done in formulating articles on arbitration and mediation whereby two nations in dispute may, if they so choose, have an honorable and peaceful solution of their differences.

This is much to be thankful for, even although the work of the Conference has been laughed and jeered at. The laughs and jeers will cease when the great mass of humanity take up the question in real earnest. The practical success of all future conferences depends on the earnestness of the people. I know too well that no amount of articles agreed upon and signed by the delegates will prove fruitful unless they express the sentiment of the people. But let the people be in real earnest; let them take the same interest in a crusade of peace that they do in a crusade of war; let them put the influence and force of their whole being into it; let them be possessed with the same heroism as the soldier; let them be willing to bear similar privations; let them stand unitedly against the attacks of the enemy; let them be willing to give their lives a sacrifice for the cause, and I tell you that the sun would never again set on the land where peace and joy would reign forever and forevermore.

If there is one country better suited than another for influencing the peace movement, that country is the United States. Its desire for the peace of nations is traditional. This desire was very forcibly expressed by our delegates to The Hague in their earnest insistence for practical measures. But more than this, the United States is a miniature world. Its population is so heterogeneous that all the various characteristics of the different nations of the earth – social, political and psychological – may be studied at home. Much could be done in this direction in overcoming national prejudices. In so far as we are able to obtain respect and obedience to our laws from such a variety of people; in so far as we are able to induce them to live among each other with the spirit of fraternal affection, just so far have we accomplished the practicability of international federation.

If there is one day more suited than another for making special effort in this cause, that day is the Fourth of July, the day we celebrate our independence from tyranny and oppression. I say “our independence,” because all of us, no matter of what nationality, participate in the same privileges and blessings which are the inheritance of that independence so heroically fought for, so honorably established and so gloriously maintained.

Still, instead of celebrating our own independence, which is indeed forever secure and safe, it would be nobler by far to utilize that day in an endeavor to accomplish a still greater object, the disarmament of nations and the establishment of peace; a peace which the world has not yet experienced; a peace, not obtained by the sword, but from the sword.

 

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John Collins: Till war becomes a crime abhorred, and earth be blessed with endless peace

October 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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John Collins
England and the Boers

A stain is on thy diadem
And on thy brow a scar,
As history tells thy deeds of crime
In peaceful Afric climes afar.

The greed of gold and foreign lands
May soon allure thee to thy fate,
Till coming years forewarn thy doom,
And leave thee sad and desolate.

The brand of infamy attends
Contention with a weaker foe, –
And nations stand in mute suspense,
Or watch, in fear, the final blow.

What can restore thy tarnished name
Dipped in a murdered nation’s gore?
Who thy supremacy proclaim,
Save only in unrighteous war?

Distrust and hatred of a race
Subjected to unwise control,
Thy bloody triumph shall disgrace,
Long as successive ages roll.

No longer boast thy Christian power
O’er nations underneath thy sway,
Nor send thy sons, as heretofore,
To teach idolaters to pray.

Return, O England! to the Lord,
Whose word was never yet in vain,
“The people that uplift the sword
Shall perish on the battle-plain.”

Return! ere yet it be too late,
While mercy may avert the blow,
Or punishment thy course await,
And thou almighty vengeance know.

Rise in thy might, and bid the sword
Forever sheathed, defiance cease,
Till war becomes a crime abhorred,
And earth be blessed with endless peace.

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Quintus Curtius: So completely does war invert even the laws of Nature

October 22, 2020 Leave a comment

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

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

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Quintus Curtius
From History of Alexander
Translated by John C. Rolfe

Another nation had opposed 40,000 foot-soldiers on the bank of the rivers; Alexander crossed the Acesines, drove them within their walls, and took their town by assault. Those of military age were put to death, the rest were sold. Then, having attempted to storm a second city, but being repulsed by the great strength of its defenders, he lost many of the Macedonians. But when he had persisted in besieging it, the inhabitants, despairing of safety, set fire to their houses and burned to death in the flames themselves and their wives and their children. Since they themselves were spreading the fire, while the enemy were trying to put it out, a novel kind of battle took place; the inhabitants were trying to destroy their city, the enemy were defending it. So completely does war invert even the laws of Nature.


Being admitted to the tent and invited to be seated, they had fixed their eyes on the king’s face, because, I suppose, to those who estimated spirit by bodily stature his moderate size seemed by no means equal to his reputation. However, the comprehension of the Scythians is not so rude and untrained as that of the rest of the barbarians; in fact, some of them are even said to pick up something of philosophy, so far as a race that is always in arms is capable of such knowledge. Hence what they are reported to have said to the king is perhaps foreign to our customs and our orators, who have been allotted more cultivated times and intellects. But although their speech may be scorned, yet our fidelity ought not to be; and so we shall report, their words without change, just as they have been handed down to us.

Well then, we have learned that one of them, the eldest, said: “If the gods had willed that your bodily stature should be equal to your greed, the world would not contain you; with one hand you would touch the rising, with the other the setting sun, and having reached the latter, you would wish to know where the brilliance of so great a god hides itself. So also you desire what you cannot attain. From Europe you pass to Asia, from Asia you cross into Europe; then, when you have subdued the whole human race, you will wage war with the woods, the snows, with rivers and wild beasts. Why, do you not know that great trees are long in growing, but are uprooted in a single hour? He is a fool who looks at their fruits, but does not scan their height. Beware lest, while you strive to reach the top, you fall with the very branches which you have grasped. Even the lion has sometimes been the food of the smallest of birds, and rust consumes iron. Nothing is so strong that it may not be in danger even from the weak. What have we to do with you? We have never set foot in your lands. Are not those who live in the solitary woods allowed to be ignorant who you are, whence you come? We cannot obey any man, nor do we desire to rule any.

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Philip Stafford Moxom: The Palace of Peace

October 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

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Philip Stafford Moxom
The Palace of Peace at The Hague

Cheer up, my heart, the better day is dawning,
The better day of which thou dreamedst long,
When, on the god of war no longer fawning,
Mankind shall sweep away the ancient wrong.

The land which Alva’s hordes once desolated,
Where Dutchmen checked the power of haughty Spain,
Where faith and love of freedom new-created
The shrines which war had leveled to the plain,

Has now become the holy place of meeting
Of messengers of good from many lands,
And East and West engage, with friendly greeting,
In weaving strong world-wide fraternal bands.

Where sabers flashed and belching cannon thundered
Is heard the music of the builders’ toil,
And near the field where Gaul’s great captain blundered
The shrine of Peace now rises from the soil.

Not to sweet notes evoked by bright Apollo,
Nor Orpheus’ lyre, these sacred walls arise,
But rhythmic heart-beats of the world they follow
By light of love-gleams in the nations’ eyes.

The level fields of Holland, water-cinctured,
Sublimer grow than templed hills of Rome,
And lovelier than Athens, glory-tinctured,
The Hague becomes benignant Justice’s home.

Here sovran Law shall dim War’s ancient splendor,
Rebuking with strong truth the nations’ wrath;
Here Peace, with gracious mien and accents tender,
Shall lead them onward in her fruitful path.

Then sing, my heart; the glorious day draws nearer,
When strife no more with blood shall drench the earth,
And, each to all and all to each grown dearer,
The peoples, glad, shall thrive in wealth and worth.

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Jessie Wiseman Gibbs: We feed bread of our children to the war-god’s greed

October 20, 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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Jessie Wiseman Gibbs
From Peace Sonnets

XXX
Has Christ failed, then, in Europe? Nay, but her
Philosophers, her diplomats, her courts
Have failed Him, trusting not his heavenly forts
Of faith and love, nor daring from them stir
In valor of his cross, to minister
His life. Therefore for refuge she resorts
To fear and hate, and all her host reports
In camp of the Eternal Murderer.

Christ cannot fail, but He is still the Prince
Of Peace. The Prince of this World faileth since
The world began, and he shall always fail;
He is the Enemy and Christ, the Friend,
Who by his love shall mightily prevail
And of whose Kingdom there shall be no end.

XXXI
Think we that those on whom this tower of ill
Descends, whose blood is mingled thus in vain
With hopeless sacrifices, who so strain
To bring forth good from evil, and fulfil
Their own destruction while they waste and kill,
Think we that they above all lands profane
God’s will, and so in chastisement obtain
His judgment, from which we are scatheless still?

I tell you nay, but except we repent,
Ourselves shall likewise perish: for we feed
Bread of our children to the war-god’s greed
And with unholy mammon are defiled,
And turn away the face of our own child
From Christ, and know not our impoverishment!

XXXIV
The minds of kings are dark; their thoughts are cast
In molds of a dead era, when they traced
Their way to thrones through wars, and ever braced
Themselves thereon by wars; they still hold fast
To that unholy refuge of the past,
Not knowing how a new age hath effaced
Their covenant with death , and firmly based
The strength of nations in Heaven’s life, at last.

But we are of the future; we are free;
And looking from the future’s height, we see
A new United States, of Europe, rise
Out of her ashes and her agonies,
And bid her hail, and cry the King of Kings
Hasten to gather her beneath his wings!

XXXVI
The soul is infinite: the whole world lies,
Of peace and discord, hope and fear, praise, blame,
Heavenly glory and infernal shame,
Folden within its possibilities;
And he who scorns the spirit is not wise;
For out of it all strength and weakness came,
And it alone survives the wreck and flame,
And on it still the social pillars rise.

And I have seen Heaven’s Kingdom fully come
Within a soul disordered and accursed
As this old, sin-sick, warring world, at worst,
Bringing it forth with power to a new birth
Of life and peace; and this is all my sum
Of hope to see that Kingdom come on earth.

XXXVIII
Of old when men were children and conceived
Of God as one who loved their little tribe,
While other tribes had other gods, to gibe
And jeer at theirs, and hate in Heaven grieved
Men’s souls to dare the slaughter they believed
God’s will for earth, war was a boast the scribe
Could chronicle and poets might ascribe
Glory to him who most despite achieved.

But now men know one God and Father of
Them all, one Elder Brother, whose dear love
Is Heaven’s law for earth: war is revealed
A deed most blasphemous, profaning sky
And earth, a most unnatural crime, the yield
Of perfidy and infidelity .

 

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W. C. Benet: Hymn of Peace

October 19, 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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W. C. Benet
Hymn of Peace

Our Heavenly Father, Lord of all,
Humbly before Thy throne we fall;
For world at war, O hear our prayer?
Spare us, good Lord, in mercy spare.

See countless graves of slaughtered dead,
Look on the tears by mourners shed;
Stretch forth, O Lord, Thy mighty hand,
Make war to cease in every land.

Mothers and maidens cry to Thee,
Pleading for peace on land and sea;
With broken heart and choking sigh
Widows and orphans join the cry.

O Holy Jesus, Prince of Peace,
Thou mad’st the angry tempest cease;
Now bend proud monarchs to Thy will,
Say to their armies, “Peace! Be still.”

Come, Holy Ghost, like Heavenly Dove,
Turn strife and hate to peace and love;
O’er the wide world Thine influence pour
Till hostile races rage no more.

Thou knowest, Lord, we are but dust;
Our helper Thou; in Thee we trust;
For bleeding nations hear our prayer?
Spare them, good Lord, in pity spare.
Amen.

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William Mason: Il Pacifico: Joys that peace inspires

October 18, 2020 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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William Mason
Il Pacifico
Written on the Conclusion of the Peace of Aix-la-Chapelle

Hence, pestilential Mars,
Of sable-vested Night and Chaos bred,
On matters formless bed,
Mid the harsh din of elemental jars:
Hence with thy frantic croud,
Wing’d Flight, pale Terror, Discord cloath’d in fire,
Precipitate retire;
While mad Bellona cracks her snaky thong,
And hurries headlong on,
To Ach’ron’s brink and Phlegethon’s flaming flood.
But hail fair Peace, so mild and meek,
With polish’d brow and rosy cheek,
That, on thy fleece-white cloud descending,
Hither, soft-eyed queen, art tending
Gently o’er thy fav’rite land
To wave thy genial myrtle wand:
To shake from off thy turtle wing
Th’ ambrosial dews of endless spring;
Spring, like that, which poets feign,
Gilded Saturn’s easy reign:
For Saturn’s first-born daughter thou;
Unless, as later bards avow,
The youthful God with spangled hair
Closely clasp’d Harmonia fair:
For, banish’d erst Heav’ns star-pav’d floor,
(As sings my legendary lore),
As Phoebus sat by weeping brook,
With shepherds scrip and shepherds crook,
Pensive ‘midst a savage train
(For savage then was all the plain);
Fair Harmonia left her bow’r,
To join her radiant paramour:
Hence didst thou spring; and at thy birth
Lenient Zephyrs fan’d the earth,
Rumbling thunders growl’d no more,
Prowling wolves forgot to roar,
And man, whom fiercer rage possest,
Smil’d dissension from his breast.
She comes, she comes: ye Nymphs, prepare
Gay floral wreaths to bind your hair;
Ye swains, inspire the mellow flute
To dulcet strains, which aptly suit
The featly-footed saraband
Of Phillis trim and Marian bland,
When nimbly light each simpering lass
Trips it o’er the pliant grass.
But see, her social smiling train
Now invests th’ inraptured plain!
Plenty’s pleasure-teeming horn
Showers its fruits, its flow’rs, its corn;
Commerce spreads his amplest sail;
Strong-nerv’d Labour lifts his flail,
Sylvanus too attends (’tis he
That bears the root-pluck’d cypress tree):
He shall my youngling footsteps lead
Thro’ tufted lawn and fringed mead,
By scooped valley, heaped hill,
Level river, dancing rill,
Where the shepherds all appear,
To shear and wash their fleecy care,
Which bleating stand the streams around,
And whiten all the close-cropp’d ground:
Or when the maids in bonnets sheen,
Cock the hay upon the green;
Or up yon steep rough road the swains,
Drive slow along their rolling wains
(Where laughing Ceres crowns the stack,
And makes the pond’rous axle crack),
Then to the village on the hill,
The barns capacious jaws to fill,
Where the answ’ring flails rebound,
Beating bold with thund’ring sound.
Enchanted with this rural scene,
Here let me weave my arb’retts green:
Here arch the woodbine, mantling neat,
O’er my noontide cool retreat;
Or bind the oak with ivy-twine;
Or wed the elm and purpling vine.
But, if my vagrant fancy pants
For charms, that simple nature wants,
Grant, Power benign, admittance free
To some rang’d Academy:
There to give to arts refind
All the impulse of my mind;
And oft observant take my stand,
Here the painter’s magic band
From sketches rude, with gradual art,
Calls dawning life to ev’ry part,
Till, with nice tints all labour’d high,
Each starting hero meets the eye:
Oft too, oh! let me nice inspect,
The draughts of justest architect:
And hence delighted let me pass,
Where others mould the ductile brass;
Or teach the parian stone to wear
A letter’d sage’s musing air.
But ah! these Arts have fix’d their home
In Roman or in Gallic dome:
Though strange beseems, that Arts shou’d spread
Where frowns black Slav’ry’s baleful shade;
And stranger far that Arts decay
Where Freedom deals her warmest ray.
This then denied; I’ll swift retreat,
Where Camus winds with murmur sweet:
There teach me, piercing Locke, t’ explore
The busy mind’s ideal store;
There, heav’n-rapt Newton, guide my way
Mid rolling worlds, thro’ floods of day,
To mark the vagrant comets road,
And thro’ his wonders trace the God.
Then, to unbend my mind, I’ll roam
Amidst the cloysters silent gloom:
Or, where rank’d oaks their shades diffuse,
Hold dalliance with my darling Muse,
Recalling oft some heav’n-born strain,
That warbled in Augustan reign;
Or turn well pleas’d the Graecian page,
If sweet Theocritus engage,
Or blithe Anacreon, mirthful wight,
Caroll his easy love-lay light.
Yet let not all my pleasure lie
Confined to one Phoebeian joy;
But ever give my fingers wings
Lightly to skim the trembling strings,
And from some bow’r to tune the lay:
While list’ning birds croud ev’ry spray,
Or hovering silent o’er my head,
Their quiv’ring wings exulting spread;
Save but the turtles, they alone
With tender plaintive faithful moan,
Shall tell, to all the secret grove,
Their soft thick-warbled tale of love:
Sweet birds! your mingling bliss pursuing,
Ever billing, ever cooing,
Ye! constant pair! I love to note
Your hoarse strain gurgling in your throat;
And, ye unheard, from sidelong hills,
The liquid lapse of whisp’ring rills,
I hist to hear: such sounds diffuse
Sweet transports to the thoughtful Muse.
Thus Summer sees me brisk and light,
‘Till Winter spreads her ‘kerchief white;
Then to the city’s social walls,
Where tolling clock to business calls.
There the weaver’s shuttle speeds,
Nimbly thro’ the fine-spun threads:
There the vocal anvil rings,
While the smith his hammer swings,
And ev’ry man and ev’ry boy
Briskly join in warm employ.
Thro’ such throng’d scenes full oft I’ll range,
Oft croud into the rich exchange:
Or to yon wharf, aside the mote,
Where the anchor’d ships do float,
And others, hast’ning into bay,
Swell their sails in fair array:
Wafting to Albion’s sons the store,
That each Peruvian mine can pour;
Wafting to Albion’s smiling dames,
The ruby’s glow, the diamond’s flames,
Till all the Indies rush into the Thames.
Joys vast as these my fancy claims;
And joys like these, if Peace inspire,
Peace with thee, I string the lyre.

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Frederic Lawrence Knowles: The New Age. The victory which is peace.

October 17, 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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Frederic Lawrence Knowles
The New Age

When navies are forgotten
And fleets are useless things,
When the dove shall warm her bosom
Beneath the eagle’s wings,

When memory of battles
At last is strange and old,
When nations have one banner
And creeds have found one fold,

When the Hand that sprinkles midnight
With its powdered drift of suns
Has hushed this tiny tumult
Of sects and swords and guns;

Then Hate’s last note of discord
In all God’s worlds shall cease,
In the conquest which is service,
In the victory which is peace!

 

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S. B. Dunn: In Terra Pax

October 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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Rev. S. B. Dunn
In Terra Pax

O Mars, dread monarch of relentless War!
When wilt thou pale thy fierce and fiery ray,
To lose thy crimson in that milder day
When men shall learn thy cruel art no more?

Seal fast the portals of each Janus-fane!
Let every weltering sword a ploughshare be,
And every spear a pruning-hook, to see
The irenic glory of Astraea’s reign.

One shed His blood that blood no more might flow,
But man to man a friend and brother prove,
Bound heart and hand in sacred bonds of love,
Lifting from human lives their weight of woe.

O Holy Dove, descend, as once of old,
Upon the Prince of Peace in Jordan’s tide,
The olive branch to proffer far and wide,
And so bring in the promised Age of Gold!

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Horace Walpole: Who gives a nation peace, gives tranquility to all

October 15, 2020 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Horace Walpole: The glory of war and soldiering

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Horace Walpole
From his letters

I recollect that my last letter was a little melancholy; this, to be sure, has a grain or two of national vanity; why, I must own I am a miserable philosopher; the weather of the hour does affect me. I cannot here, at a distance from the world and unconcerned in it, help feeling a little satisfaction when my country is successful; yet, tasting its honours and elated with them, I heartily, seriously wish they had their quietus. What is the fame of men compared to their happiness? Who gives a nation peace, gives tranquillity to all. How many must be wretched, before one can be renowned! A hero bets the lives and fortunes of thousands, whom he has no right to game with: but alas! Caesars have little regard to their fish and counters.

****
I am amazed, with such weather, such ravages, and distress, that there is anything left in Germany, but money; for thither, half the treasure of Europe goes: England, France, Russia, and all the Empress can squeeze from Italy and Hungary, all is sent thither, and yet the wretched people have not subsistence. A A pound of bread sells at Dresden for eleven-pence. We are going to send many more troops thither; and it is so much the fashion to raise regiments, that I wish there were such a neutral kind of beings in England as abbes, that one might have an excuse for not growing military mad, when one has turned the heroic corner of one’s age. I am ashamed of being a young rake, when my seniors are covering their grey toupees with helmets and feathers, and accoutering their pot-bellies with cuirasses and martial masquerade habits.

****

There is a little book coming out, that will amuse you. It is a new edition of Isaac Walton’s “Complete Angler,” full of anecdotes and historic notes. It is published by Mr. Hawkins, – a very worthy gentleman in my neighbourhood, but who, I could wish, did not think angling so very innocent an amusement. We cannot live without destroying animals, but shall we torture them for our sport – sport in their destruction? I met a rough officer at his house t’other day, who; said he knew such a person was turning Methodist; for, in the middle of conversation, he rose, and opened the window to let out a moth. I told him I did not know that the Methodists had any principle so good, and that I, who am certainly not on the point of becoming one, always did so too. One of the bravest and best men I ever knew, Sir Charles Wager, I have often heard declare he never killed a fly willingly. It is a comfortable reflection to me, that all the victories of last year have been gained since the suppression of the Bear Garden and prize-fighting; as it is plain, and nothing else would have made it so, that our valour did not singly and solely depend upon these two Universities.

Lord Byron, Don Juan

And angling, too, that solitary vice,
Whatever Izaak Walton sings or says;
The quaint, old, cruel coxcomb, in his gullet
Should have a hook, and a small trout to pull it.

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Horace Walpole: The glory of war and soldiering

October 15, 2020 Leave a comment

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

British writers on peace and war

Horace Walpole: Who gives a nation peace, gives tranquility to all

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Horace Walpole
From letters to Horace Mann in 1743 and 1745

I write to you in the greatest hurry in the world, but write I will. Besides, I must wish you joy; you are warriors; nay, conquerors; two things quite novel in this war, for hitherto it has been armies without fighting, and deaths without killing. We talk of this battle as of a comet; “Have you heard of the battle?” it Is so strange a thing, that numbers imagine you may go and see it at Charing Cross. Indeed, our officers, who are going to Flanders, don’t quite like it; they are afraid it should grow the fashion to fight, and that a pair of colours should be no longer a sinecure.


I stayed till to-day, to be able to give you some account of the battle of Tournay: the outlines you will have heard already. We don’t allow it to be a victory on the French side: but that is, just as a woman is not called Mrs. till she is married, though she may have had half-a-dozen natural children. In short, we remained upon the field of battle three hours: I fear, too many of us remain there still!

I believe you will have the Gazette sent tonight; but lest it should not be printed time enough, here is a list of the numbers, as it came over this morning.

British foot 1237 killed.
Ditto horse 90 ditto.
Ditto foot 1968 wounded.
Ditto horse 232 ditto.
Ditto foot 457 missing.
Ditto horse 18 ditto.
Hanoverian foot 432 killed.
Ditto horse 78 ditto.
Ditto foot 950 wounded.
Ditto horse 192 ditto.
Ditto horse and foot 53 missing.
Dutch 625 killed and wounded.
Ditto 1019 missing.

So the whole hors de combat is above seven thousand three hundred. The French own the loss of three thousand; I don’t believe many more, for it was a most desperate and rash perseverance on our side. The Duke behaved very bravely and humanely; but this will not have advanced the peace.

However coolly the Duke may have behaved, and coldly his father, at least his brother has outdone both. He not only went to the play the night the news came, but in two days made a ballad. It is in imitation of the Regent’s style, and has miscarried in nothing but the language, the thoughts, and the poetry.


From a letter to Horace Mann
October 14, 1746

You will have been alarmed with the news of another battle lost in Flanders, where we have no Kings of Sardinia. We make light of it; do not allow it to be a battle, but call it “the action near Lieofe.” Then we have whittled down our loss extremely, and will not allow a man more than three hundred and fifty English slain out of the four thousand. The whole of it, as it appears to me, is, that we gave up eight battalions to avoid fighting; as at Newmarket people pay their forfeit when they fore-see they should lose the race; though, if the whole army had fought, and we had lost the day, one might have hoped to have come off for eight battalions.

Then they tell you that the French had four-and-twenty-pounders, and that they must beat us by the superiority of their cannon; so that to me it is grown a paradox, to war with a nation who have a mathematical certainty of beating you ; or else it is still a stranger paradox, why you cannot have as large cannon as the French. This loss was balanced by a pompous account of the triumphs of our invasion of Bretagne; which, in plain terms, I think, is reduced to burning two or three villages and reimbarking….


From a letter to H.S. Conway
June 8, 1747

I made no remarks on your campaign, because, as you say, you do nothing at all; which, though very proper nutriment for a thinking head, does not do quite so well to write upon. If any one of you can but contrive to be shot upon your post, it is all we desire, shall look upon it as a great curiosity, and will take care to set up a monument to the person so slain ; as we are doing by vote to Captain Cornewall, who was killed at the beginning of the action in the Mediterranean four years ago. In the present dearth of glory, he is canonized; though, poor man! he had been tried twice the year before for cowardice.

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