Robert Whitaker: Whence Cometh War?

====

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

American writers on peace and against war

====

Robert Whitaker
Whence Cometh War?

Whence cometh war?
Bring the foul thing to bar.

Out of the hatreds of the ages long;
Out of the greed and blood-lust of the strong;
Out of the strutting swagger of the proud;
Out of the mad hysterias of the crowd;
Out of the lying honor of the State;
Out of the coward meanness of the great;
Out of the toll that profit takes from toil,
Of surplus spoil, piled up on surplus spoil,
Choking to idleness the workman’s wheel,
Or raping all the earth with ruthless steel;
Out of a devil’s smoke-screen of defense,
That turns to foolishness the things of sense,
Makes virtue’s garden a vast swamp of vice,
And sells the Son of Man at Judas’ price,
Nor has the grace to cast away the pelf
But makes of God an infidel himself.

Whence cometh war? we know the truth too well –
Out of the mouth of hell!

Categories: Uncategorized

Frederic Manning: Grotesque

====

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

British writers on peace and war

Frederic Manning: War poems

====

Frederic Manning
Grotesque

These are the damned circles Dante trod,
Terrible in hopelessness,
But even skulls have their humour,
An eyeless and sardonic mockery:
And we,
Sitting with streaming eyes in the acrid smoke,
That murks our foul, damp billet,
Chant bitterly, with raucous voices
As a choir of frogs
In hideous irony, our patriotic songs.

Categories: Uncategorized

Victor Hugo: From fratricide to fraternity

====

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

French writers on war and peace

Victor Hugo: Selections on war

====

Victor Hugo
From Memoirs
Translated by John W. Harding

December 11 (1870). – Rostan came to see me. He has his arm in a sling. He was wounded at Creteil. It was at night. A German soldier rushed at him and pierced his arm with a bayonet. Rostan retaliated with a bayonet thrust in the German’s shoulder. Both fell and rolled into a ditch. Then they became good friends. Rostan speaks a little broken German.

“Who are you?”

“I am a Wurtembergian. I am twenty-two years old. My father is a clockmaker of Leipsic.”

They remained in the ditch for three hours, bleeding, numb with cold, helping each other. Rostan, wounded, brought the man who wounded him back as a prisoner. He goes to see him at the hospital. These two men adore each other. They wanted to kill each other, and now they would die for each other.

Eliminate kings from the dispute!

****

January 2 – Daumier and Louis Blanc lunched with us. Louis Koch gave to his aunt as a New Year gift a couple of cabbages and a brace of living partridges!

This morning we lunched on wine soup. The elephant at the Jardin des Plantes has been slaughtered. He wept. He will be eaten.

The Prussians continue to send us 6,000 bombs a day,

Categories: Uncategorized

Thomas Curtis Clark: Bugle Song of Peace

====

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

American writers on peace and against war

====

Thomas Curtis Clark
Bugle Song of Peace
A Prophecy for Memorial Day

Blow, bugle, blow!
The day has dawned at last.
Blow, blow, blow!
The fearful night is past;
The prophets realize their dreams.
Lo! in the east the glory gleams.
Blow, bugle, blow!
The day has dawned at last.

Blow, bugle, blow!
The soul of man is free.
The rod and sword of king and lord
Shall no more honored be;
For God alone shall govern men,
And Love shall come to earth again.
Blow, bugle, blow!
The soul of man is free.

Blow, bugle, blow!
Though rivers run with blood,
All greed and strife, and lust for life,
Are passing with the flood.
The gory beast of war is cowed;
The world’s great heart with grief is bowed.
Blow, bugle, blow!
The day has dawned at last.

Categories: Uncategorized

Oles Honchar: Orchards of peace

====

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

Ukrainian writers on war

Oles Honchar: The ponderous, stupefying word “War”

====

Oles Honchar
From Mikita Bratus
Translated V. Scheerson

I share my dream with Orishka:

“We reached the sun by the heavenly highway, walked right through it and came out on the other side…It must have been visible from down below – imagine you and I slipping into the sun just like that.”

“Was it shining on the other side?” Orishka asked earnestly.

“Certainly! And it was warm too. It’s the function of the sun to shed warmth and light on all the four winds. You should have seen the life they lead there! It’s summer all the year round, there’s eternal peace, and the orchards bear fruit from January to December.”

****

Gardening is a job that knows no let-up, but it’s an honorable profession, a peaceful profession. I would say that ours is not just a peaceful calling, it symbolizes man’s peaceful activity and his striving for beauty and abundance. Those who think in terms of blood and destruction never bother about orchards: they have no time for them. We often say: the dove of peace! And to my mind we should add to the dove and the olive branch on the peace emblem a cherry, apple or oak sapling. Without troubling anyone the sapling takes root and stretches to the sun – peaceful, calm and gentle. And yet it has great strength, capacity for growth and development; and these qualities make it formidable against the scorching winds, dust-storms, and other scourges.

Categories: Uncategorized

Wilfrid Wilson Gibson: He who killed men in foreign lands bore my name

====

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

British writers on peace and war

Wilfred Wilson Gibson: Selections on war

====

Wilfred Wilson Gibson
Back

They ask me where I’ve been,
And what I’ve done and seen.
But what can I reply
Who know it wasn’t I,
But someone just like me,
Who went across the sea
And with my head and hands
Killed men in foreign lands…
Though I must bear the blame,
Because he bore my name.

****

Bacchanal

Into the twilight of Trafalgar Square
They pour from every quarter, banging drums
And tootling penny trumpets: to a blare
Of tin mouth-organs, while a sailor strums
A solitary banjo, lads and girls,
Locked in embraces, in a wild dishevel
Of flags and streaming hair, with curdling skirls
Surge in a frenzied, reeling, panic revel.

Lads who so long have looked death in the face,
Girls who so long have tended death’s machines,
Released from the long terror shriek and prance:
And watching them, I see the outrageous dance,
The frantic torches and the tambourines
Tumultuous on the midnight hills of Thrace.

****

Breakfast

We ate our breakfast lying on our backs,
Because the shells were screeching overhead.
I bet a rasher to a loaf of bread
That Hull United would beat Halifax
When Jimmy Strainthorpe played full-back instead
Of Billy Bradford. Ginger raised his head
And cursed, and took the bet; and dropped back dead.
We ate our breakfast lying on our backs,
Because the shells were screeching overhead.

Categories: Uncategorized

Francois Mauriac: The Bloody Dawn of Peace

====

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

French writers on war and peace

====

Francois Mauriac
From The Bloody Dawn of Peace
Le Figaro
August 11, 1945

The dawn of peace is too bloody for us to celebrate with hymns and apotheosis. May this peace having intervened before the end of the world stir within us the determination to observe attentively and with a critical mind the rivalries between what are called the “great” powers, for there exists but one greatness before which we should consent to bow, the grandeur of empires that will not only give us a precarious peace to mankind overburdened with suffering, but will once again also give us hope. It will revive a hope covered by a thick layer of burning ashes, buried under so much rubble. It will give us, then, reasons to believe that all that was only a nightmare…and that the reign of murderers has ended.

Categories: Uncategorized

Robert Freeman: Peace on Earth

====

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

American writers on peace and against war

====

Robert Freeman
Peace on Earth

The men of earth said: “We must war
As the men of the earth have warred;
‘Tis ours to wield on the battlefield
The unrelenting sword.”
But they who had seen the valiant die,
The fathers of men, they answered, “Why?”

The men of earth said: “We must arm,
For so we would reveal
The nobler part of the human heart,
The love of the nation’s weal.”
But they who had sung their lullaby,
The mothers of the men, they answered, “Why?”

Then men of the earth said: “We must fight,
For so the fit survive;
By the jungle law of fang and claw
The strong are kept alive.”
But a crippled, cankered progeny,
The sons of the culls, they answered, “Why?”

The men of the earth said: “We must fall,
And falling build the road
O’er which the race with quickening pace
Can find its way to God.”
But down from a cross uplifted high,
The Saviour of men, He answered, “Why?”

Categories: Uncategorized

Pierre Nicole: Peacemakers warrant highest title men are capable of

====

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

French writers on war and peace

Pierre Nicole: Scripture obliges us to seek and desire the peace of the whole world

====

Pierre Nicole
Moral Essays
Translator unknown

Temporal wars have so strange consequences, and work so sad effects even on souls themselves that we cannot be too apprehensive of them.

****

Jesus Christ so loved peace, that of the eight Beatitudes he proposes in the Gospel he thereof made two. Blessed, said he, are the meek for they shall possess the Earth; this comprehends the tranquility of this and the repose of the other life. Blessed are, says he again, the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God, which is the highest title men are capable of, and which is therefore due only to the highest virtue. St. Paul has made an express law concerning peace in commanding it to be kept as much as possible with all men whatsoever: cum omnibus hominibus pacem habentes quod uestrum est.

Categories: Uncategorized

Edmund Blunden: Harsher screamed the condor war

====

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

British writers on peace and war

Edmund Blunden: Writings on war

====

Edmund Blunden
War Autobiography
Written in Illness

Heaven is clouded, mists of rain
Stream with idle motion by;
Like a tide the trees’ refrain
Wearies me where pale I lie,
Thinking of sunny times that were
Even in shattered Festubert;
Stubborn joys that blossomed on
When the small golden god was gone

Who tiptoe on his spire surveyed
Yser north from Ypres creeping,
And, how many a sunset! made
A longed-for glory amid the weeping.
In how many a valley of death
Some trifling thing has given me breath,
And when the bat-like wings brushed by
What steady stars smiled in the sky!

War might make his worst grimace
And still my mind in armour good
Turned aside in every place
And saw bright day through the black wood:
There the lyddite vapoured foul,
But there I got myself a rose;
By the shrapnelled lock I’d prowl
To see below the proud pike doze.

Like the first light ever streamed
New and lively past all telling,
What I dreamed of joy I dreamed,
The more opprest the more rebelling;
Trees ne’er shone so lusty green
As those in Hamel valley, eyes
Did never such right friendship mean
As his who loved my enterprise.

Thus the child was born again
In the youth, the toga’s care
Flung aside -desired, found vain,
And sharp as ichor grew the air:
But the hours passed and evermore
Harsher screamed the condor war,
The last green tree was scourged to nothing,
The stream’s decay left senses loathing,

The eyes that had been strength so long
Gone, or blind, or lapt in clay,
And war grown twenty times as strong
As when I held him first at bay;
Then down and down I sunk from joy
To shrivelled age, though scarce a boy,
And knew for all my fear to die
That I with those lost friends should lie.

Now in slow imprisoned pain
Lie I in the garret bed
With this crampt and weighted brain
That scarce has power to wish me fled
To burst the vault and soar away
Into the apocalypse of day,
And so regain that tingling light
That twice has passed before my sight.

****

A Farm Near Zillebeke

Black clouds hide the moon, the amazement is gone;
The morning will come in weeping and rain;
The Line is all hushed – on a sudden anon
The fool bullets clack and guns mouth again.

I stood in the yard of a house that must die,
And still the black hame was stacked by the door,
And harness still hung there, and the dray waited by.
Black clouds hid the moon, tears blinded me more.

Categories: Uncategorized

Alphonse de Lamartine: Mercenaries, taking others’ lives for hire

====

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

French writers on war and peace

Lamartine: The republic of peace

Lowell on Lamartine: Highest duty of man, to summon peace when vulture of war smells blood

====

Alphonse de Lamartine
From Life of Great Men
William Tell

His [the Swiss’s] virtues are tarnished by one vice alone – a vice inherent to poverty – covetousness; avarice contracts his hand and his heart. He is willing to sell anything, even his blood, to introduce a little gold into his country, which produces none. Naturally brave and faithful, he traffics with his children, and lets them out for a vile stipend to any prince or nation who engages to pay them. Indifferent as to the cause for which he pledges his life, he becomes the acknowledged mercenary of courts and camps…[He] takes away the life of another, or exposes his own, for hire. Free at home, abroad he lends his arms to sovereigns that they may subjugate their people. No sooner has his period of service expired than he passes to another, with the indifference of the gladiator of the circus, or of elephants trained to combats, who fight with equal valour for the Persians or the Romans…

 

****

Life of Great Men (Vie des Grands Hommes)
Madame de  Sévigné
What is this mystery? Its explanation lies in a few words. It is that the interest created by human occurrences is not found in the greatness of situations or events, but in the emotions of the mind by which they are re-echoed, and which is to them, be they great or small, what air is to sound, the medium of resonance. You may strike powerful blows upon the most sonorous metal, but if air is wanting, or even too rarefied, silence alone will be your answer, the echo is mute: without air there cannot be sound, without sensibility there can be no impression; thus there is also no interest and no glory: it is the secret of the human heart, that it can only be moved by coincidence with something that has been moved before.
There are many minds concealed from the world far in advance of their period, and possessing deeper tones than the age in which Providence has placed them, as it casts echoes into the profound recesses of forests and caves; they are never seen, and only heard when the woodcutter fells the trees and time crumbles the rocks into dust. These speaking souls, vehicles which convey to us the impressions of their own hearts and of their period, interpose themselves irresistibly by their fine and vibrating nature between us and the world, and compel us to think and feel in them and through them, while we vainly struggle to escape from their influence. They form the sensible element, the sympathetic centre (if we may be permitted to use a material simile), reflected by which we behold all the past, the present, and often our own selves. Thus it is that by the sport of fortune, reputation and literary glory are attained; they reach beings unappreciated by their contemporaries, men dwelling in retirement, women concealed by obscurity. Many anonymous writers, such as the author of the ‘ Imitation of Jesus Christ,’ are in reality greater and more immortal than their entire age; and while other men who deeply
fathom humanity, who overturn empires, who control sceptres, who lead great assemblies, and who administer public affairs, endeavour to create a grand and enduring halo round the name they leave behind them, they are surpassed in fame by an individual upon whom they would not have deigned to cast a glance amidst the crowd at their feet, by a poor dreamer like St. Augustine, by an insignificant monk such as the anonymous writer of the ‘ Imitation,’ or by an obscure female such as Madame de  Sévigné. Posterity can with difficulty remember the names of the pretended great politicians, poets, orators, and authors, who monopolized the renown of their age; but after the lapse of centuries it listens with avidity to the most secret palpitations of the hearts of these unlearned beings, as though their emotions comprised the sublimest events in the history of human nature; and this in truth they are, for circumstance is nothing: the human heart is everything in man. Fame herself knows this, therefore she selects her dearest and most immortal favourites not from those who seek to shine with commanding brilliancy, but amidst such as have poured forth the most pathetic confessions of the soul.
Categories: Uncategorized

Frederic Manning: The very mask of God, broken

====

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

British writers on peace and war

Frederic Manning: War poems

====

Frederic Manning
The Face

Out of the smoke of men’s wrath,
The red mist of anger,
Suddenly,
As a wraith of sleep,
A boy’s face, white and tense,
Convulsed with terror and hate,
The lips trembling…

Then a red smear, falling…
I thrust aside the cloud, as it were tangible,
Blinded with a mist of blood.
The face cometh again
As a wraith of sleep:
A boy’s face delicate and blonde,
The very mask of God,
Broken.

Categories: Uncategorized

Gilbert Waterhouse: “This is the last of wars – this is the last!”

====

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

British writers on peace and war

====

Gilbert Waterhouse
“This is the Last”

Coming in splendor thro’ the golden gate
Of all the days, swift passing, one by one,
O silent planet, thou has gazed upon
How many harvestings dispassionate?
Across the many furrowed fields of Fate,
Wrapt in the mantle of oblivion,
The old, gray, wrinkled Husbandman has gone;
The blare of trumpets, rattle of the drum,
Disturb him not at all – he sees,
Between the hedges of the centuries,
A thousand phantom armies go and come,
While reason whispers as each marches past,
“This is the last of wars – this is the last!”

Categories: Uncategorized

Wilfrid Wilson Gibson: The Conscript

====

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

British writers on peace and war

Wilfred Wilson Gibson: Selections on war

====

Wilfred Wilson Gibson
The Conscript

Indifferent, flippant, earnest, but all bored,
The doctors sit in the glare of electric light
Watching the endless stream of naked white
Bodies of men for whom their hasty award
Means life or death maybe, or the living death
Of mangled limbs, blind eyes, or a darkened brain;
And the chairman, as his monocle falls again,
Pronounces each doom with easy indifferent breath.

Then suddenly I shudder as I see
A young man stand before them wearily,
Cadaverous as one already dead;
But still they stare untroubled as he stands
With arms outstretched and drooping thorn-crowned head,
The nail-marks glowing in his feet and hands.

****

The Fear

I do not fear to die
‘Neath the open sky,
To meet death in the fight
Face to face, upright.
But when at last we creep
Into a hole to sleep,
I tremble, cold with dread,
Lest I wake up dead.

****

In the Ambulance

Two rows of cabbages,
Two of curly-greens
Two rows of early peas,
Two of kidney beans.

That’s what he keeps muttering,
Making such a song,
Keeping other chaps awake
The whole night long.

Both his legs are shot away,
And his head is light,
So he keeps on muttering
All the blessed night:

Two rows of cabbages,
Two of curly-greens
Two rows of early peas,
Two of kidney beans.

Categories: Uncategorized

Florence Earle Coates: War

====

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

====

Florence Earle Coates
War

The serpent-horror writhing in her hair,
And crowning cruel brows bent o’er the ground
That she would crimson now from many a wound,
Medusa-like, I seem to see her there –
War! with her petrifying eyes astare –
And can no longer listen to the sound
Of song-birds in the harvest fields around;
Such prophecies do her mute lips declare.

Evils? Can any greater be than they
That troop licentious in her brutal train?
Unvindicated honour? She brings shame –
Shame more appalling than men dare to name,
Betraying them that die and them that slay,
And making of this earth a hell of pain!

Categories: Uncategorized

Wilfrid Wilson Gibson: Between The Lines

====

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

British writers on peace and war

Wilfred Wilson Gibson: Selections on war

====

Wilfred Wilson Gibson
Between The Lines

When consciousness came back, he found he lay
Between the opposing fires, but could not tell
On which hand were his friends; and either way
For him to turn was chancy – bullet and shell
Whistling and shrieking over him, as the glare
Of searchlights scoured the darkness to blind day.
He scrambled to his hands and knees ascare,
Dragging his wounded foot through puddled clay,
And tumbled in a hole a shell had scooped
At random in a turnip-field between
The unseen trenches where the foes lay cooped
Through that unending-battle of unseen,
Dead-locked, league-stretching armies; and quite spent
He rolled upon his back within the pit,
And lay secure, thinking of all it meant –
His lying in that little hole, sore hit,
But living, while across the starry sky
Shrapnel and shell went screeching overhead –
Of all it meant that he, Tom Dodd, should lie
Among the Belgian turnips, while his bed…
If it were he, indeed, who’d climbed each night,
Fagged with the day’s work, up the narrow stair,
And slipt his clothes off in the candle-light,
Too tired to fold them neatly in a chair
The way his mother’d taught him – too dog-tired
After the long day’s serving in the shop,
Inquiring what each customer required,
Politely talking weather, fit to drop…

And now for fourteen days and nights, at least,
He hadn’t had his clothes off, and had lain
In muddy trenches, napping like a beast
With one eye open, under sun and rain
And that unceasing hell-fire…

It was strange
How things turned out – the chances! You’d just got
To take your luck in life, you couldn’t change
Your luck.

And so here he was lying shot
Who just six months ago had thought to spend
His days behind a counter. Still, perhaps…
And now, God only knew how he would end!

He’d like to know how many of the chaps
Had won back to the trench alive, when he
Had fallen wounded and been left for dead,
If any!…

This was different, certainly,
From selling knots of tape and reels of thread
And knots of tape and reels of thread and knots
Of tape and reels of thread and knots of tape,
Day in, day out, and answering “Have you got”‘s
And “Do you keep”‘s till there seemed no escape
From everlasting serving in a shop,
Inquiring what each customer required,
Politely talking weather, fit to drop,
With swollen ankles, tired…

But he was tired
Now. Every bone was aching, and had ached
For fourteen days and nights in that wet trench –
Just duller when he slept than when he waked –
Crouching for shelter from the steady drench
Of shell and shrapnel…

That old trench, it seemed
Almost like home to him. He’d slept and fed
And sung and smoked in it, while shrapnel screamed
And shells went whining harmless overhead –
Harmless, at least, as far as he…

But Dick –
Dick hadn’t found them harmless yesterday,
At breakfast, when he’d said he couldn’t stick
Eating dry bread, and crawled out the back way,
And brought them butter in a lordly dish –
Butter enough for all, and held it high,
Yellow and fresh and clean as you would wish –
When plump upon the plate from out the sky
A shell fell bursting…Where the butter went,
God only knew!…

And Dick…He dared not think
Of what had come to Dick…or what it meant –
The shrieking and the whistling and the stink
He’d lived in fourteen days and nights. ‘T was luck
That he still lived…And queer how little then
He seemed to care that Dick…perhaps ‘t was pluck
That hardened him – a man among the men –
Perhaps…Yet, only think things out a bit,
And he was rabbit-livered, blue with funk!
And he’d liked Dick…and yet when Dick was hit
He hadn’t turned a hair. The meanest skunk
He should have thought would feel it when his mate
Was blown to smithereens – Dick, proud as punch,
Grinning like sin, and holding up the plate –
But he had gone on munching his dry hunch,
Unwinking, till he swallowed the last crumb.
Perhaps ‘t was just because he dared not let
His mind run upon Dick, who’d been his chum.
He dared not now, though he could not forget.

Dick took his luck. And, life or death, ‘t was luck
From first to last; and you’d just got to trust
Your luck and grin. It wasn’t so much pluck
As knowing that you’d got to, when needs must,
And better to die grinning…

Quiet now
Had fallen on the night. On either hand
The guns were quiet. Cool upon his brow
The quiet darkness brooded, as he scanned
The starry sky. He’d never seen before
So many stars. Although, of course, he’d known
That there were stars, somehow before the war
He’d never realised them – so thick-sown,
Millions and millions. Serving in the shop,
Stars didn’t count for much; and then at nights
Strolling the pavements, dull and fit to drop,
You didn’t see much but the city lights.
He’d never in his life seen so much sky
As he’d seen this last fortnight. It was queer
The things war taught you. He’d a mind to try
To count the stars – they shone so bright and clear.

One, two, three, four…Ah, God, but he was tired…
Five, six, seven, eight…

Yes, it was number eight.
And what was the next thing that she required?
(Too bad of customers to come so late,
At closing time!) Again within the shop
He handled knots of tape and reels of thread,
Politely talking weather, fit to drop…

When once again the whole sky overhead
Flared blind with searchlights, and the shriek of shell
And scream of shrapnel roused him. Drowsily
He stared about him, wondering. Then he fell
Into deep dreamless slumber.

*

He could see
Two dark eyes peeping at him, ere he knew
He was awake, and it again was day –
An August morning, burning to clear blue.
The frightened rabbit scuttled…

Far away,
A sound of firing…Up there, in the sky
Big dragon-flies hung hovering…Snowballs burst
About them…Flies and snowballs. With a cry
He crouched to watch the airmen pass – the first
That he’d seen under fire. Lord, that was pluck –
Shells bursting all about them – and what nerve!
They took their chance, and trusted to their luck.
At such a dizzy height to dip and swerve,
Dodging the shell-fire…

Hell! but one was hit,
And tumbling like a pigeon, plump…

Thank Heaven,
It righted, and then turned; and after it
The whole flock followed safe – four, five, six, seven,
Yes, they were all there safe. He hoped they’d win
Back to their lines in safety. They deserved,
Even if they were Germans…’T was no sin
To wish them luck. Think how that beggar swerved
Just in the nick of time!

He, too, must try
To win back to the lines, though, likely as not,
He’d take the wrong turn: but he couldn’t lie
Forever in that hungry hole and rot,
He’d got to take his luck, to take his chance
Of being sniped by foes or friends. He’d be
With any luck in Germany or France
Or Kingdom-come, next morning…

Drearily
The blazing day burnt over him, shot and shell
Whistling and whining ceaselessly. But light
Faded at last, and as the darkness fell
He rose, and crawled away into the night.

Categories: Uncategorized

Margaret Sackville: Nostra Culpa

====

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

British writers on peace and war

Women writers on peace and war

Margaret Sackville: Selections on peace and war

====

Margaret Sackville
Nostra Culpa

We knew, this thing at least we knew, – the worth
Of life: this was our secret learned at birth.
We knew that Force the world has deified,
How weak it is. We spoke not, so men died.
Upon a world down-trampled, blood-defiled,
Fearing that men should praise us less, we smiled.

We knew the sword accursed, yet with the strong
Proclaimed the sword triumphant. Yea, this wrong
Unto our children, unto those unborn
We did, blaspheming God. We feared the scorn
Of men; men worshipped pride; so where they led,
We followed. Dare we now lament our dead?

Shadows and echoes, harlots! We betrayed
Our sons; because men laughed we were afraid.
That silent wisdom which was ours we kept
Deep-buried; thousands perished; still we slept.
Children were slaughtered, women raped, the weak
Down-trodden. Very quiet was our sleep.

Ours was the vision, but the vision lay
Too far, too strange; we chose an easier way.
The light, the unknown light, dazzled our eyes –
O sisters, in our choice were we not wise?
When all men hated, could we pity or plead
For love with those who taught the Devil’s creed?

Reap we with pride the harvest! it was sown
By our own toil. Rejoice! it is our own.
This is the flesh we might have saved – our hands,
Our hands prepared these blood-drenched, dreadful lands.
What shall we plead? That we were deaf and blind?
We mothers and we murderers of mankind.

Categories: Uncategorized

Edmund Blunden: We stood estranged with the ghosts of war between

====

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

British writers on peace and war

Edmund Blunden: Writings on war

====

Edmund Blunden
Reunion in War

The windmill in his smock of white
Stared from his little crest,
Like a slow smoke was the moonlight
As I went like one possessed.

Where the glebe path makes shortest way;
The stammering wicket swung.
I passed amid the crosses grey
Where opiate yew-boughs hung.

The bleached grass shuddered into sighs,
The dogs that knew this moon
Far up were harrying sheep, the cries
Of hunting owls went on.

And I among the dead made haste
And over flat vault stones
Set in the path unheeding paced
Nor thought of those chill bones.

Thus to my sweetheart’s cottage I,
Who long had been away,
Turned as the traveller turns adry
To brooks to moist his clay.

Her cottage stood like a dream, so clear
And yet so dark; and now
I thought to find my more than dear
And if she’d kept her vow.

Old house dog from his barrel came
Without a voice, and knew
And licked my hand; all seemed the same
To the moonlight and the dew.

By the white damson then I took
The tallest osier wand
And thrice upon her casement strook,
And she, so fair, so fond,

Looked out, and saw in wild delight
And tiptoed down to me,
And cried in silent joy that night
Beside the bullace tree.

O cruel time to take away,
And worse to bring agen;
Why slept not I in Flanders clay
With all the murdered men.

For I had changed, or she had changed,
Though true loves both had been,
Even while we kissed we stood estranged
With the ghosts of war between.

We had not met but a moment ere
War baffled joy, and cried,
“Love’s but a madness, a burnt flare;
The shell’s a madman’s bride.”

The cottage stood, poor stone and wood,
Poorer than stone stood I;
Then from her kind arms moved in a mood
As grey as the cereclothed sky.

The roosts were stirred, each little bird
Called fearfully out for day;
The church clock with his dead voice whirred
As if he bade me stay.

To trace with madman’s fingers all
The letters on the stones
Where thick beneath the twitch roots crawl
In dead men’s envied bones.

Categories: Uncategorized

William E. Brooks: Memorial Day

====

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

American writers on peace and against war

====

William E. Brooks
Memorial Day

I heard a cry in the night from a far-flung host,
From a host that sleeps through the years the last long sleep,
By the Meuse, by the Marne, in the Argonne’s shattered wood,
In a thousand rose-thronged churchyards through our land.
Sleeps! Do they sleep! I know I heard their cry,
Shrilling along the night like a trumpet blast:

“We died,” they cried, “for a dream. Have ye forgot?
We dreamed of a world reborn whence wars had fled,
Where swords were broken in pieces and guns were rust,
Where the poor man dwelt in quiet, the rich in peace,
And children played in the streets, joyous and free.
We thought we could sleep content in a task well done;
But the rumble of guns rolls over us, iron upon iron
Sounds from the forge where are fashioned guns anew;

“New fleets spring up in new seas, and under the wave
Stealthy new terrors swarm, with emboweled death.
Fresh cries of hate ring out loud from the demagogue’s throat,
While greed reaches out afresh to grasp new lands.
Have we died in vain? Is our dream denied?
You men who live on the earth we bought with our woe,
Will ye stand idly by while they shape new wars,
Or will ye rise, who are strong, to fulfill our dream,
To silence the demagogue’s voice, to crush the fools
Who play with blood-stained toys that crowd new graves?
We call, we call in the night, will ye hear and heed?”

In the name of our dead will we hear? Will we grant them sleep?

Categories: Uncategorized

Victor Hugo: What greater aim could there be than civilization through peace?

====

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

French writers on war and peace

Victor Hugo: Selections on war

====

Victor Hugo
From Memoirs
Translated by John W. Harding

Conversations with King Louis Philippe

“Well, this Duke of Clarence used to say to me:

‘Duke d’Orleans, a war between France and England is necessary every twenty years. History shows it.’

I would reply:

‘My dear duke, of what use are people of intelligence if they allow mankind to do the same foolish things over and over again?'”

****

“Oh! fear! Monsieur Hugo, it is a strange thing, this fear of the hubbub that will be raised outside! It seizes upon this one, then that one, then that one, and it goes the round of the table. I am not a Minister, but if I were, it seems to me that I should not be afraid. I should see the right and go straight towards it. And what greater aim could there be than civilization through peace?”

****

“What a job to govern amid this mob of bewildered Kings. They won’t force me into committing the great mistake of going to war. I am being pushed, but they won’t push me over. Listen to this and remember it: the secret of maintaining peace is to look at everything from the good side and at nothing from the bad point of view.”

****

The King said to me yesterday:

“What makes the maintenance of peace so difficult is that there are two things in Europe that Europe detests, France and myself – myself even more than France. I am talking to you in all frankness. They hate me because I am Orleans; they hate me because I am myself. As for France, they dislike her, but would tolerate her in other hands. Napoleon was a burden to them; they overthrew him by egging him on to war of which he was so fond. I am a burden to them; they would like to throw me down by forcing me to break that peace which I love.”

Then he covered his eyes with his hands, and leaning his head back upon the cushions of the sofa, remained thus for a space pensive, and as though crushed.

Categories: Uncategorized

Frederic Manning: Blow, wind! Drown the senseless thunder of the guns.

====

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

British writers on peace and war

Frederic Manning: War poems

====

Frederic Manning
Wind

Blow, wind! Strip the great trees
That are like ebony against a sky of jade,
Ebony fretted and contorted.
Blow, hunt the piled clouds that lash the earth with rain;
Roar among the swayed branches; sing shrilly in the grass,
Burdening the pines with the music of pain;
For mine eyes desire the stars.

Drown the senseless thunder of the guns,
Stream on the ways of air hurrying before thee
The yellow leaves, and the tawny, and scarlet,
Till my soul dance with them,
Dance delightedly as a child or a kitten
Catching at the gay leaves laughingly,
For I would forget, I would forget and laugh again.

Sing, thou great wind; smite the harp of the wood,
For in thee the souls of slain men are singing exultant,
Now free of the air, feather-footed! Yea, they swim therein
Toward the green twilight, surging
Naked and beautiful with playing muscles,
Yea, even the naked souls of men
Whose beauty is a fierce thing, and slayeth us
Like the terrible majesty of the gods;
Blow, thou great wind, scatter the yellowing leaves.

Categories: Uncategorized

Nancy Byrd Turner: Let Us Have Peace

====

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

====

Nancy Byrd Turner
Let Us Have Peace

The earth is weary of our foolish wars.
Her hills and shores were shaped for lovely things,
Yet all our years are spent in bickerings
Beneath the astonished stars.

April by April laden with beauty comes,
Autumn by autumn turns our toil to gain,
But hand at sword-hilt, still we start and strain
To catch the beat of drums.

Knowledge to knowledge adding, skill to skill,
We strive for others’ good as for our own –
And then, like cavemen snarling with a bone,
We turn and rend and kill…

With life so fair, and all too short a lease
Upon our special star! Nay, love and trust,
Not hate and violence shall redeem our dust.
Let us have peace!

Categories: Uncategorized

Wilfrid Wilson Gibson: The Bayonet

====

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

British writers on peace and war

Wilfred Wilson Gibson: Selections on war

====

Wilfred Wilson Gibson
The Bayonet

This bloody steel
Has killed a man.
I heard him squeal
As on I ran.

He watched me come
With wagging head.
I pressed it home
And he was dead.

Though clean and clear
I’ve wiped the steel,
I still can hear
That dying squeal.

****

Air Raid

Night shatters in mid-heaven: the bark of guns,
The roar of planes, the crash of bombs, and all
The unshackled sky pandemonium stuns
The senses to indifference, when a fall
Of masonry near by startles awake,
Tingling wide-eyed, prick-eared, with bristling hair,
Each sense within the body crouched aware
Like some sore-hunted creature in the brake.

Yet side by side we lie in the little room,
Just touching hands, with eyes and ears that strain
Keenly, yet dream-bewildered, through tense gloom,
Listening in helpless stupor of insane
Drugged nightmare panic fantastically wild,
To the quiet breathing of our sleeping child.

****

Before Action

I sit beside the brazier’s glow,
And, drowsing in the heat,
A dream of daffodils that blow
And lambs that frisk and bleat –

Black lambs that frolic in the snow
Among the daffodils,
In a far orchard that I know
Beneath the Malvern hills.

Next year the daffodils will blow,
And lambs will frisk and bleat;
But I’ll not feel the the brazier’s glow,
Nor any cold or heat.

Categories: Uncategorized

Sergei Mstislavsky: Germ warfare of the future

====

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

Russian writers on war

====

Sergei Mstislavsky
From Rook, Herald of Spring
Translated by David Skvirsky

“In Conrad Vallenrod Mickiewicz has an introductory ballad about a Moorish Almansour, who was defeated by the Spaniards and who avenged himself by infecting their camp with cholera. It proved stronger than any other weapon.

The Spaniards fled from the mountains in fright
And hosts of them fell on the way;
The dying and the dead were a horrible sight,
As the Plague took their spirits away.

“Yes, stronger than any other weapon,” the doctor agreed. “But not against the palaces. An epidemic first of all spreads to the poorest quarters and touches those whose bodies have been weakened by continual undernourishment. Death always follows the line of least resistance.”

Bauman put his hand on the doctor’s impulsively.

“That was well put. It’s very true that death always follows the line of least resistance. But when we get the upper hand death will find his match in the human race, you can be sure.”

“You think so? Unfortunately I believe (not to say bluntly that I am sure) that you and I will yet live to see germ war on the lines of your Almansour, the only essential difference being that the future Almansours will drop retorts full of germs from the air.”

Categories: Uncategorized

Frederic Manning: Shells hounding through air athirst for blood

====

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

British writers on peace and war

Frederic Manning: War poems

====

Frederic Manning
Leaves

A frail and tenuous mist lingers on baffled and intricate branches;
Little gilt leaves are still, for quietness holds every bough;
Pools in the muddy road slumber, reflecting indifferent stars;
Steeped in the loveliness of moonlight is earth, and the valleys,
Brimmed up with quiet shadow, with a mist of sleep.

But afar on the horizon rise great pulses of light,
The hammering of guns, wrestling, locked in conflict
Like brute, stone gods of old struggling confusedly;
Then overhead purrs a shell, and our heavies
Answer, with sudden clapping bruits of sound,
Loosening our shells that stream whining and whimpering precipitately,
Hounding through air athirst for blood.

And the little gilt leaves
Flicker in falling, like waifs and flakes of flame.

Categories: Uncategorized

William Faulkner: All we ever needed to do is just say, Enough of this

====

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

American writers on peace and against war

William Faulkner: There is only the question: When will I be blown up?

William Faulkner: To militarists, all civilians, even their own, are alien intruders

Thomas Mann: William Faulkner’s love for man, protest against militarism and war

====

William Faulkner
From A Fable (1954)

tumblr_m2z7zosDkM1qmqh97o1_1280

[Posted with fair use understanding and with the sole intent of acquainting those not already familiar with the matter with William Faulkner’s view of war. Despite the complex and often challenging narrative style and structure, all who can afford to are encouraged to purchase the novel from which the excerpts are taken.]

Standing not quite at attention, looking not at anything but merely staring at rigid eyelevel above the group commander’s head, the division commander made his formal request for permission to have the whole regiment executed. The group commander heard him through. There was nothing whatever in the group commander’s face.

‘Endorsed as received,’ he said. ‘Return to your troops.’ The division commander did not move. The group commander sat back in his chair and spoke to the army commander without even turning his head: ‘Henri. Will you conduct these gentlemen to the little drawing room and have them bring wine, whisky, tea, whatever they fancy?’ He said to the American colonel in quite passable English: ‘I have heard of your United States coca cola. My regrets and apologies that I do not have that for you yet. But soon we hope, eh?’

***

The group commander looked at the division commander for another moment. Then he said: ‘It cant be possible that you don’t even see that it has already ceased to matter whether these three thousand or these four men die or not. That there is already more to this than the execution of twice three thousand men could remedy or even change.’

‘Speak for yourself,’ the division commander said. ‘I have seen some ten times three thousand dead Frenchmen.’ He said, ‘You will say, Slain by other Frenchmen?’ He said, repeated, rote-like, cold, unemphasized, almost telegraphic: ‘Comite des Forges. De Ferrovie. S.P.A.D. The people at Billancourt. Not to mention the English and the Americans, since they are not French, at least not until they have conquered us. What will it matter to the three thousand or the ten times three thousand when they are dead? Nor matter to us who killed them, if we are successful?’

***

Because there are rules, the division commander said harshly. ‘Our rules. We shall enforce them, or we shall die – the captains and the colonels – no matter what the cost -‘

‘It wasn’t we who invented war,’ the group commander said. ‘It was war which created us. From the loins of man’s furious ineradicable greed sprang the captains and the colonels to his necessity. We are his responsibility; he shall not shirk it.’

‘But not me,’ the division commander said.

”You,’ the group commander said. ‘We can permit even our own rank and file to let us down on occasion; that’s one of the prerequisites of their doom and fate as rank and file forever. They may even stop the wars, as they have done before and will again; ours merely to guard them from the knowledge that it was actually they who accomplished that act. Let the whole vast moil and seethe of man confederate in stopping wars if they wish, so long as we can prevent them for learning that they have done so. A moment ago you said that we must enforce our rules, or die. It’s no abrogation of a rule that will destroy us. It’s less. The simple effacement from men’s memory of a single word will be enough. But we are safe. Do you know what that word is?’

The division commander looked at him for a moment. ‘Yes?’

‘Fatherland,’ the group commander said…

***

‘…Oh, I know it too: the men who, in hopes of being recorded as victorious prime- or cabinet-ministers, furnish men for this. The men who, in order to become millionaires, supply the guns and shells. The men who, hoping to be addressed someday as Field Marshall or Viscount Plugstreet or Earl of Loos, invent the gambles they call plans. The men who, to win a war, will go out and dig up if possible, invent if necessary, an enemy to fight against…’

***

“Wasn’t one enough then to tell us the same thing all them two thousand years ago: that all we ever needed to do is just say, Enough of this; – us, not even the sergeants and the corporals, but just us, all of us, Germans and Colonials and Frenchmen and all the other foreigners in the mud here, saying together: Enough. Let them that’s already dead and maimed and missing be enough of this: – a thing so easy and simple that even human man, as full of evil and sin and folly as he is, can understand and believe it this time…”

***

They could only execute so many of us before they will have worn out the last rifle and pistol and expended the last live shell…then the field officers: colonels and senators and Members; then, last and ultimate, the ambassadors and ministers and lesser generals themselves frantic and inept among the slowing wheels and melting bearings, while the old men, the last handful of kings and presidents and field marshals and spoiled-beef and shoe-peg barons, their backs to the last crumbling wall of their real, their credible, their believable world, wearied, spend, not with blood-glut at all but with the eye-strain of aiming and the muscle-tension of pointing and the finger-cramp of squeezing, fired the last puny scattered and markless fusillade as into the face of the sea itself…

Categories: Uncategorized

Edmund Blunden: How silver clear against war’s hue and cry each syllable of peace the gods allowed

====

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

British writers on peace and war

Edmund Blunden: Writings on war

====

Edmund Blunden
IIth R.S.R.

How bright a dove’s wing shows against the sky
When thunder’s blackening up in monstrous cloud,
How silver clear against war’s hue and cry
Each syllable of peace the gods allowed.
Even common things in anguish have grown rare
As legends of a richer life gone by,
Like flowers that in their time are no one’s care,
But blooming late are loved and grudged to die.

What mercy is it, that I live and move,
If haunted ever by war’s agony
Nature is love and will remember love,
And kindly uses those whom fear set free;
Let me not even think of you as dead,
O never dead! you live, your old songs yet
Pass me each day, your faith still routs my dread,
Your past and future are my parapet.

You looked before and after these calm shires
And doting sun and orchards all aflame,
These joyful flocking swallows round the spires,
Bonfires and turreted stacks – well may you claim,
Still seeing these sweet familiar bygones, all!
Still dwells in you their has-been, their to-be,
And walking in their light you fear no fall.
This is your holding: mine, across the sea,

Where much I find to trace old friendship by.
“Here one bade us farewell,” “Here supped we then,”
“Wit never sweeter fell than that July” –
Even sometimes comes the praise of better men.
The land lies like a jewel in the mind,
And featured sharp shall lie when other fades,
And through its veins the eternal memories wind
As that lost column down its colonnades.

Flat parcelled fields the scanty paths scored through,
Woods where no guns thrust their lean muzzles out,
Small smoky inns, we laughed at war’s ado!
And clutching death, to hear, fell into doubt.
Christ at each crossroad hung, rich belfries tolling,
Old folks a-digging, weathercocks turned torches,
Half-hearted railways, flimsy millsails rolling –
Not one, but by the host for ever marches.

Categories: Uncategorized

Frederic Manning: The Trenches

====

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

British writers on peace and war

Frederic Manning: War poems

====

Frederic Manning
The Trenches

Endless lanes sunken in the clay,
Bays, and traverses, fringed with wasted herbage,
Seed-pods of blue scabious, and some lingering blooms;
And the sky, seen as from a well,
Brilliant with frosty stars.
We stumble, cursing, on the slippery duck-boards.
Goaded like the damned by some invisible wrath,
A will stronger than weariness, stronger than animal fear,
Implacable and monotonous.

Here a shaft, slanting, and below
A dusty and flickering light from one feeble candle
And prone figures sleeping uneasily,
Murmuring,
And men who cannot sleep,
With faces impassive as masks,
Bright, feverish eyes, and drawn lips,
Sad, pitiless, terrible faces,
Each an incarnate curse.

Here in a bay, a helmeted sentry
Silent and motionless, watching while two sleep,
And he sees before him
With indifferent eyes the blasted and torn land
Peopled with stiff prone forms, stupidly rigid,
As tho’ they had not been men.

Dead are the lips where love laughed or sang,
The hands of youth eager to lay hold of life,
Eyes that have laughed to eyes,
And these were begotten,
O Love, and lived lightly, and burnt
With the lust of a man’s first strength: ere they were rent,
Almost at unawares, savagely; and strewn
In bloody fragments, to be the carrion
Of rats and crows.

And the sentry moves not, searching
Night for menace with weary eyes.

Categories: Uncategorized

Oles Honchar: The ponderous, stupefying word “War”

====

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

Ukrainian writers on war

Oles Honchar: Orchards of peace

====

Oles Honchar
Translated by V. Scheerson

I heard of the outbreak of war at the Korolenko Public Library in Kharkov.

Buried in books and notes, I was preparing that day for an examination in Russian literature.

Still alive in my memory is the pale, startled face of the girl-student who, dashing in, shy to break the scholarly silence reigning in the spacious reading room, uttered in an undertone the ponderous, stupefying word:

“War…”

****

There was a time when ferocious Tartar hordes trampled upon our soil, brutally exterminating the stock Slav population, setting fire to magnificent temples, destroying the lofty culture of Kiev Rus with the frenzied fury of savages. But that had been long ago, that had been an invasion of rude and ignorant nomads for whom pillage was a habitual occupation. But now, in the 29th century, hordes advanced upon us from civilized Europe, and our mothers suffered mediaeval tortures at the hands of butchers with university education…

****

In this stern, workaday war – unseen, but clearly felt – Tolstoy and Gorky, Rolland and Barbusse stood at our side. They, these great men of culture, had taught us to respect Man, to believe in him, to appreciate his spiritual force, his mind, his talent, and his remarkable propensity for self-improvement.

Categories: Uncategorized

Vsevolod Kochetov: Peace is the future happiness of mankind

====

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

Russian writers on war

====

Vsevolod Kochetov
From The Zhurbins
Translated by R. Daglish

“There’s a fierce struggle going on in the world. The forces of peace are growing and getting stronger, but the warmongers aren’t giving in either; they’re sticking their necks out as much as ever. You feel you ought to be sounding the alarm to warn people that peace is in danger. And you try to make every word, every action serve that purpose…”

****

Victor, who had gone back into the summer-house, began playing the mandolin. No one spoke. The sound of the mandolin mingled with the hum of the flying beetles that were diving into the flower beds; one of them struck the chessboard, another caught itself in Dunyasha’s hair. Vera disentangled it and held it on her palm. It spread its stiff blue wing-cases and flew away, gaining height laboriously, like a heavily-loaded bomber. It was hard to think that somewhere there were real bombers and stocks of terrible bombs – atomic bombs, hydrogen bombs, bombs filled with plague and poison gas, that somewhere there lived people who hated this peaceful Zhurbin family, Old Matvei, and Anton, and Dunyasha, and little Matvei – all of them. Those bombs could cut short Grandad’s life, they could kill Dunyasha, Anton and the two little ones that Agafya Karpovna was now nursing in her arms.

****

The labour of the Zhurbins, the Basmanovs, the Tarasovs, the Kuznetsovs will sail to distant seas and distant countries with cargoes of peace. For peace it is worth living, fighting, working; peace is the future happiness of mankind. The Zhurbins live for humanity, it is to humanity that these honest, hard-working, openhearted people give their skill.

Categories: Uncategorized

Elizar Maltsev: Suddenly people would discover that there was no war at all

====

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

Russian writers on war

====

Elizar Maltsev
From Heart and Soul
Translator unidentified

….Three days later Grunya stumbled blindly behind some carts loaded with soldiers’ packs. A blood-red sunset seeped through clouds as white as bandage: the sky was an open wound. And this fearsome bleeding sky was flecked with ravens.
….

The carts halted outside the village where the fields began. The woman wailed while the men just stood there, black as thunder-clouds, apparently insensitive to the hasty, greedy arms seeking a last embrace.

Grunya’s heart bled to hear the wailing of the women; it made her whole body ache. She saw Rodion’s tear-wet face and heard his voice, but couldn’t tell what he said.

He followed the carts and she remained standing there, trying to understand where he was going and what had torn him away from her.

And suddenly it was as if someone had given her a push, and she began to run after him. There was something she had to say to him. She had not said a single word in farewell. Only now did the thought that she might never see him again penetrate her consciousness and drive her on.

Like black stumps the carts loomed one after another on the horizon before they vanished over the hill. The wind blew a bitter, choking dust into her face.

“Rodion!’ she cried as she stumbled and fell, only to rise and run forward again. “What about me? Wait! Rodion!”

But Rodion was already far away. The drivers were standing up in the carts and lashing the horses for all they were worth.

Grunya dropped exhausted on the hard warm earth and hid her wet face in it as if it were her mother’s bosom.

****

At night Grunya was obsessed by a strange and incongruous idea: suddenly people would discover that there was no war at all; the whole thing was a mistake and Rodion would come back and tap softly on the window-pane.

Categories: Uncategorized

Gabriel Marcel: War depersonalizes enemy, dehumanizes self

====

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

French writers on war and peace

Gabriel Marcel: Modern war is sin itself, the suicide of the human race

Gabriel Marcel: War is disaster from which no counterbalancing advantage can be reaped

====

Gabriel Marcel
From Man Against Mass Society
Translated by G. S. Fraser

[As] soon, of course, as one has become aware of these passions that underlie the spirit of abstraction, it has become possible to understand that they have their place even among the most dangerous of the causes of war. There are a number of urgently relevant observations that force themselves on us here. The most important of them appear to be the following: as soon as people (people, that is to say, the State or a political party or a faction or a religious sect, or what it may be) claim of me that I commit myself to a warlike action against other human beings whom I must, as a consequence of my commitment, be ready to destroy, it is very necessary from the point of view of those influencing me that I lose all awareness of the individuality of the being whom I may be led to destroy. In order to transform him into a mere impersonal target, it is absolutely necessary to convert him into an abstraction: the Communist, the anti-Fascist, the Fascist, and so on…

Such idealized abstractions [the masses] are in some sense pre-ordained for the purposes of war; that is to say, quite simply, for the purposes of human inter-destructiveness.

****

Here. too, it is war which supervenes, but in forms under which it is not even recognized as such anymore, since it is in fact the systematic crushing of millions of beings reduced to a total impotence.

****

Some time ago I read in a daily paper, this: ‘The echoes of Bikini hard hardly died away when Dr. Gerald West, broadcasting from Schenectady, declared that the special division of the American services dealing with chemical warfare had perfected a new toxic substance of extraordinary power. Though in appearance this substance appeared to consist of perfectly harmless crystals, one ounce of it would be enough to cause the deaths of the whole human population of the United States and Canada.’ Now, whether Dr. West’s information was true to the actual facts or not – and I admit that in the sequel a partial denial of his story was issued – what is particularly important and significant is that his story could be broadcast: one might well ask whether the very fact that such a broadcast can be issued does not in some sense condemn the civilization in which it takes place. For, in fact, what does this announcement of Dr. West’s tell us but that a technique has been discovered in comparison to which the exploits of the most famous criminals in history amounted to mere child’s play? On the other, this broadcast had a meaning, it was not put over without a fairly obvious purpose; and that purpose was surely not merely, as in films and plays of the ‘horror’ type, to allow the public the pleasure of a voluptuous shiver. It is all too clear that the broadcast had some sort of definite relation with those toxicological investigations of which it aimed at announcing the results. Its purpose, in a word, was intimidation. We are in the presence here of blackmail on a world scale.

Categories: Uncategorized

Romain Rolland: The heroism of war resisters

====

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

Nobel prize in literature recipients on peace and war

French writers on war and peace

Romain Rolland: Selections on war

====

Romain Rolland

I am not a pacifist out of weakness, who is fearful of the dangers of war. For the last three years I too have been waging a war, and it is not without danger.
(From letter to Louis Ferrière 1917)

I think that we, the men ‘above the battles,’ we are the greatest fighters. Our war knows no compromise, no truce, no treaty! It has no other victory, no other peace to expect save inward peace and victory. But we have to conquer and maintain them against all blows of destiny. Our universe is within us. It is for us to discover its laws of divine harmony.
(From letter to Rabindranath Tagore 1925)

One must have faith, or otherwise not meddle with such things at all. I shall never advise anyone who does not have faith to take part in a movement of Passive Resistance at a time when war has broken out. Because he must be prepared to be sacrificed. I find some of your leaders severely guilty, who keep you in illusion on this point and delude you with the hope that the war will stop before folded arms. It will stop in the wake of world opinion, incensed at the sacrifice of Passive Resisters. It is the sacrifice which alone can bring – prepare – the coming victory of mankind, the salvation of future generations. But this sacrifice cannot be avoided.
(From letter to Pierre Herdner 1930)

It is entrusted to me to ask you, as well as Gandhi, to join a Universal Assembly for Peace, which we are convening towards the end of this summer, probably in September, at Geneva. It will be a vast and powerful Congress, a sort of mobilization of all the forces in the world for peace. A number of great national and international organizations and personalities from France, England, the United States, Czechoslovakia, Spain, Belgium, Holland and many other countries have already joined…It will be a question of organizing, simultaneously on a national and international level, resistance against the catastrophic menace of a universal conflagration…
(From letter to Jawaharlal Nehru 1936)

Categories: Uncategorized

Virgil: On war and on peace

Categories: Uncategorized

Gabriel Marcel: War is disaster from which no counterbalancing advantage can be reaped

====

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

French writers on war and peace

Gabriel Marcel: Modern war is sin itself, the suicide of the human race

Gabriel Marcel: War depersonalizes enemy, dehumanizes self

====

Gabriel Marcel
From Man Against Mass Society
Translated by G. S. Fraser

Today there does exist an indissoluble connection between lying and war; to-day, I emphasize, for we are not asserting that there is some necessary and logical connection between the mere notions of lying and making war. But in the actual world we are living in it is impossible not to recognize that making war is linked to lying, and to lying in a double form: lying to others and lying to oneself; and these two forms themselves, for that matter, are very closely linked and perhaps not even ideally separable from each other.

A person who is not lying to himself can hardly fail to observe that in its modern forms war is a disaster from which no counterbalancing advantage can be reaped, except perhaps in the case of a purely aggressive war directed against an unarmed adversary; and even then there is no doubt the advantage is only an apparent one. However, in the case of such an act of aggression, war has ceased properly speaking to be war, and has degenerated into mere organized banditry, though people will no doubt attempt to camouflage this banditry by describing the aggression as “a punitive expedition”; the inexhaustible resources of propaganda will then be put to work to help this camouflage.

****

‘[The] originality of each local and national tradition in respect to every other one has been very far, throughout history, from excluding quarrels and wars; up to a certain point, it has even encouraged them. But these quarrels, these wars, however bloody they may have been, did retain a human character; they did not exclude mutual respect; they made real reconciliation possible. There is nothing in them which at all resembles these attempts at collective extermination of which I spoke…

[Today] the philosopher has to take a definite stand in regard to the wretchedness of a world whose complete destruction is not inconceivable. For my own part, I have frankly the conviction that we are in a situation without precedent, which I would define very briefly by saying that suicide has become possible on a mankind-wide scale…

Categories: Uncategorized

Virgil: The blind passion of unpitying war

====

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

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

Virgil: On war and on peace

====

Virgil
From Eclogue I
Translated by Theodore Chickering Williams

Oh! shall I ever after seasons gone
See my own country more, my cabin rude
With high-peaked roof of turf?
Or if I see hereafter realms once mine, must I be shocked
At scanty blades of corn? And will there be
Some godless soldier on my well-tilled farm,
Some grim barbarian, gathering its yield?
Oh, to what woes has civil discord led
Our wretched countrymen! For whom to reap
Were these fair acres sown? What profit now
My grafted pear-trees and my trellised vine?

****

From Eclogue VI

When I fain
Would sing of kings and wars, Apollo twitched
My ear and whispered warning: ” Tityrus,
His well-fed sheep best grace the shepherd’s trade,
And unpresumptuous song.” Therefore this day
(Since, Varus, of thy laurelled name to tell
And lamentable wars, there will be bards
In plenty) let me wake my slender reed
To woo the shepherd’s muse.
****

From Eclogue X

Here, O Lycoris, are cool-flowing rills,
Here softest grass and haunts of woodland shade,
Here in thine arms my whole life long should be.
Now the blind passion of unpitying war
Clothes me in steel and bids me captive be
‘Mid thronging swords and foes in stern array;
While thou in exile – would it all were lies! –
Lookest on snow-clad Alp and ice-bound Rhine
Alone, and not with me. Oh, harmless blow
The wintry winds! and from the sharp-edged ice
May thy white, lovely feet no wound receive!
I must away!

Categories: Uncategorized

Gabriel Marcel: Modern war is sin itself, the suicide of the human race

====

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

French writers on war and peace

Gabriel Marcel: War depersonalizes enemy, dehumanizes self

Gabriel Marcel: War is disaster from which no counterbalancing advantage can be reaped

====

Gabriel Marcel
From Man Against Mass Society
Translated by G. S. Fraser

Between the physical destruction wrought by the atomic bomb and the spiritual destruction wrought by techniques of human degradation there exists, quite certainly a secret bond; it is precisely the duty of reflective thinking to lay bare that secret.

****

Whatever attempts there may have been in the past to justify war, or at least to recognize a certain spiritual value in war, we ought to proclaim as loudly as possible that war with the face it wears today is sin itself. But at the same time we cannot fail to recognize that war is becoming more and more an affair of technicians: it presents today the double aspect of destroying whole populations without distinction of age or sex, and of tending more and more to be conducted by a small number of individuals, powerfully equipped, who direct operations from the safe depths of their laboratories. The fate of war and that of technical advancement, in our time, whether or not this conjunction is a merely accidental one, seems to be inextricably linked; and it can be asserted even that, at least in our present phase of history, everything that gives a new impetus to technical research at the same time renders war more radically destructive, and bends it more and more inexorably to what, at the breaking point, would be quite simply the suicide of the human race.

Categories: Uncategorized

Virgil: None heard the trumpet’s blast, nor direful clang of smitten anvils loud with shaping sword

====

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

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

Virgil: On war and on peace

====

Virgil
From Georgic II
Translated by Theodore Chickering Williams

Meanwhile the husbandman upturns the glebe
With well-curved share, inaugurating so
The whole year’s fruitful toil, by which he feeds
His native land, his children’s children too,
His flocks and herds, and cattle worth his care…
The livelong year His gathered children to his kisses cling.

****

Such way of life the ancient Sabines knew,
And Remus with his twin; thus waxed the power
Of the Etrurian cities; thus rose Rome
The world’s chief jewel, and with towering wall
Compassed in one her hills and strongholds seven.
Yea, and before the Cretan King assumed
The sceptre of the skies, ere impious man
Began on murdered flocks to feast his kind,
Such life on earth did golden Saturn show.
None heard the trumpet’s blast, nor direful clang
Of smitten anvils loud with shaping swords.

Categories: Uncategorized

Virgil: The War-god pitiless moves wrathful through the world

====

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

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace

Virgil: On war and on peace

====

Virgil
From Georgic I
Translated by Theodore Chickering Williams

So many wars
Vex the whole world, so many monstrous shapes
Of wickedness appear; no honor due
Is given the sacred plough; our fields and farms,
Their masters taken, rankly lie untilled;
Our pruning-hooks are beaten in hot flames
To tempered swords. Euphrates yonder stirs,
There wild Germania, to impious war;
Close-neighbored cities their firm leagues forswear
And rush to arms. The War-god pitiless
Moves wrathful through the world.
With not less rage Swift chariot-horses through the circus bound
With ever-quickening pace; the driver pale
Is vanquished by his team and waves on high
His helpless reins; no curb the chariot heeds.

****

From Georgic II

Blest was that man whose vision could explore
The world’s prime causes, conquering for man
His horde of fears, his certain doom of death
Inexorable, and the menace loud
Of hungry Acheron! Yet happy he
Who knows a shepherd’s gods, protecting Pan,
Sylvan of hoary head, and sisterhoods
Of nymphs in wave and tree. He lives unmoved
By public honors or the purple pall
Of kingly power, or impious strife that stirs
‘Twixt brothers breaking faith, or barbarous host
Of Dacian raiders from the rebel shores
Of Danube, or by Rome’s imperial care
And kingdoms doomed to die; he need not weep
For pity of the poor, nor lustful-eyed
View great possessions. He plucks mellow fruit
From his own orchard trees and gathers in
The proffered harvest of obedient fields.
Of ruthless laws, the forum’s frenzied will,
Of public scrolls of deed and archive sealed,
He nothing knows. Let strangers to such peace
Trouble with oars the boundless seas or fly
To wars, and plunder palaces of kings;
Make desolate whole cities, casting down
Their harmless gods and altars, that one’s wine
May from carved rubies gush, and slumbering head
On Tyrian pillow lie. A man here hoards
His riches, dreaming of his buried gold;
Another on the rostrum’s flattered pride
Stares awe-struck. Him th’ applause of multitudes,.
People and senators, when echoed shouts
Ring through the house approving, quite enslaves.
With civil slaughter and fraternal blood
One day such reek exultant, on the next
Lose evermore the long-loved hearth and home.

Categories: Uncategorized

Clinton Scollard: Sunset Trees

====

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

American writers on peace and against war

Clinton Scollard: Selections on war and peace

====

Clinton Scollard
Sunset Trees

I see the sunset trees, line upon line on the sky;
I see the sunset trees, and they seem to be marching by;
I see the sunset trees, and I mind me of arméd men,
Men who will fade in the dusk, and will never come again.

I see the sunset trees, supple and strong and straight;
I see the sunset trees, like souls on the verge of fate;
I see the sunset trees, then darkness swallows them quite,
And I mind me of marching men lost in the battle-night.

Categories: Uncategorized

François-René de Chateaubriand: What is war? A barbaric profession.

====

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

French writers on war and peace

Chateaubriand: Would-be master of the world who knew only how to destroy

====

François-René de Chateaubriand
From Mémoires d’Outre-tombe
Translated by Robert Baldick

In the middle of the night Napoleon sent for one of his aides-de-camp, who found him with his head buried in his hands.

“What is war?” he asked. “A barbaric profession whose only secret consists in being stronger at a given point.”

****

Our sovereign’s fame cost us only two or three hundred thousand men a year: we paid for it with only three million of our soldiers; our fellow-citizens bought it only at the cost of their sufferings and their liberties for fifteen years: can such trifles count? Are not the generations that have come after us resplendent in their glory? So much the worse for those who have disappeared! The calamities which occurred under the republic served to insure the safety of us all; our misfortunes under the Empire did much more: they deified Bonaparte! That should be enough for us.

****

Napoleon had closed the era of the past: he made war too great for it to return in a form capable of interesting mankind. He slammed the doors of the Temple of Janus behind him; and behind those doors he heaped up piles of corpses to prevent them from ever opening again.

****

To become disgusted with conquerors, one has to know all the evils they cause; one has to see the indifference with which men sacrifice the most inoffensive creatures to them in a corner of the globe in which they have never set foot…

The world sees nothing in Napoleon but his victories; the tears with which the triumphal columns are cemented do not fall from his eyes. As for myself, I believe that out of these despised sufferings, our of those calamities of the humble and lowly, there are formed in the counsels of Providence the secret causes which hurl the tyrant from his pinnacle. When individual injustices have accumulated in such numbers as to exceed the weight of good fortune, then the scale descends. There is blood which is dumb and blood which cries out: the blood of the battlefield is drunk in silence by the earth; pacific blood when sheds spurts with a moan toward Heaven; God receives it and avenges it…

Categories: Uncategorized

Harry Kemp: I Sing the Battle

====

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

American writers on peace and against war

====

Harry Kemp
I Sing the Battle

I sing the song of the great clean guns that belch forth death at will.
Ah, but the wailing mothers, the lifeless forms and still!

I sing the songs of the billowing flags, the bugles that cry before.
Ah, but the skeletons flapping rags, the lips that speak no more!

I sing the clash of bayonets and sabres that flash and cleave.
And wilt thou sing the maimed ones, too, that go with pinned-up sleeve?

I sing acclaimèd generals that bring the victory home.
Ah, but the broken bodies that drip like honey-comb!

I sing of hearts triumphant, long ranks of marching men.
And wilt thou sing the shadowy hosts that never march again?

Categories: Uncategorized

Paul Valèry: War, science, art and Leibnitz, who dreamed of universal peace

====

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

French writers on war and peace

Paul Valéry on global conflicts, Europe governed by American commission

====

Paul Valèry
From The Intellectual Crisis
Translated by Malcom Cowley

A great deal of science was doubtless required to kill so many men, destroy so much property, annihilate so many cities in so short a time; but moral qualities were equally required. Knowledge and Duty: must we suspect you also?

***

Inventors were feverishly searching their imagination and the annals of former wars, in hope of finding a way to remove barbed wire, baffle the submarines, or paralyze the flight of aeroplanes; the soul, meanwhile, was invoking all its known incantations – gravely considering any prophecy, however bizarre; seeking for auguries, refuge, consolations through the whole gamut of memories, anterior acts and ancestral attitudes. All these are the known products of anxiety; they are the disordered enterprises of the brain which flees from reality to a nightmare and from nightmare to the real, maddened like a rat in a trap.

***

The facts, however, are plain and merciless: There are thousands of young writers and young artists who have been killed. There are the lost illusion of a European culture and the demonstrated inability of knowledge to save anything whatsoever; there is science, touched mortally in its ethical ambitions and as if dishonoured by the cruelty of its applications…

Today, on an immense platform which might be that of Elsinore, but runs instead from Basle to Cologne, touching the sands of Nieuport, the marshes of the Somme, the granites of Alsace, and the chalky plateaus of Champagne – The European Hamlet stares at millions of ghosts.

***

If he takes a skull in his hands, the skull is illustrious. – “Whose was it?” – That was Leonardo. He invented the flying man, but the flying man has hardly fulfilled the purpose of the inventor; we know that the flying man mounted on his great swan (il grande uccello sopra del dosso del suo magno cecero) has other uses in our days than to go fetch snow from the mountain-tops and sprinkle it over city streets in the heat of summer…And this other skull is that of Leibnitz, who dreamed of universal peace…

Categories: Uncategorized

Clinton Scollard: Mars’ mad and holocaustal rite

====

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

American writers on peace and against war

Clinton Scollard: Selections on war and peace

====

Clinton Scollard
In The Night

Sometimes grim horror grips me in the night
When I am fain of sleep, when I am fain
Of surcease from the thought of woe and pain
Where fields once fair are stricken with the blight
And whelm of battle; then across my sight
Pale phantoms march, a melancholy train,
The unhouselled ghosts of the unnumbered slain
That mark Mars’ mad and holocaustal rite.

What will the end be? Can no puissant power,
Man’s dream and hope from some dim elder day,
With hand compassionate, exorcize the spell?
Or have we fallen on that awful hour
When hosts satanic, in their dire array.
Menace the world from out the yawn of hell?

Categories: Uncategorized

Katharine Lee Bates: Mother

====

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

Katharine Lee Bates: Selections on war and peace

====

Katharine Lee Bates
Mother

“Mother! Mother!” he called as he fell
In the horror there
Of a bursting shell
That strewed red flesh on the air.

Far away over sea and land:
The knitting dropt
From an old white hand,
And a heart for an instant stopt.

But it was Death, dark mother and wise,
All-tenderest,
Who kissed his eyes
And gathered him to her breast.

Categories: Uncategorized

Clinton Scollard: The Night Sowers

====

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

American writers on peace and against war

Clinton Scollard: Selections on war and peace

====

Clinton Scollard
The Night Sowers
(France)

Lo, these are they that toil by night
With mattock and with spade,
‘Neath the faint flickering lanthom light,
In meadow and in glade!
Row upon long and crowded row,
How gruesome is the seed they sow!

Back on the fair and furrowed lands
The earth and sod they toss,
And some, with reverential hands.
Place here and there a cross,
A simple rough-hewn cross as though
To sanctify the seed they sow.

Oh, may some flower of love arise
Above the bruised sod,
Some flower of love to greet the eyes,
The grieving eyes of God !
Some flower of love whereon shall fall
The dews of peace perennial!

Categories: Uncategorized

Georg Ebers: Each one must bring a victim to the war

====

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

German writers on peace and war

====

Georg Ebers
From Uarda
A Romance Of Ancient Egypt
Translated by Clara Bell

Here men were lamenting and casting dust upon their heads, there women were rending their clothes, shrieking loudly, and crying as they waved their veils “oh, my husband! oh, my father! oh, my brother!”

Parents who had received the news of the death of their son fell on each other’s neck weeping; old men plucked out their grey hair and beard; young women beat their forehead and breast, or implored the scribes who read out the lists to let them see for themselves the name of the beloved one who was for ever torn from them.

***

“Can you read?” he asked her; “up there on the architrave is the name of Rameses, with all his titles. Dispenser of life, he is called. Aye indeed; he can create widows; for he has all the husbands killed.”

Before the astonished woman could reply, he stood by a man sunk in woe, and pulling his robe, said “Finer fellows than your son have never been seen in Thebes. Let your youngest starve, or beat him to a cripple, else he also will be dragged off to Syria; for Rameses needs much good Egyptian meat for the Syrian vultures.”

***

He had listened with affable condescension to the complaint of a landed proprietor, whose cattle had been driven off for the king’s army, and had promised that his case should be enquired into. The plundered man was leaving full of hope; but when the scribe who sat at the feet of the Regent enquired to whom the investigation of this encroachment of the troops should be entrusted, Ani said: “Each one must bring a victim to the war; it must remain among the things that are done, and cannot be undone.”

The Nomarch [Chief of a Nome or district.] of Suan, in the southern part of the country, asked for funds for a necessary, new embankment. The Regent listened to his eager representation with benevolence, nay with expressions of sympathy; but assured him that the war absorbed all the funds of the state, that the chests were empty…

Categories: Uncategorized

Luise Mühlbach: Battle-field writes names of its heroes in blood

====

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

German writers on peace and war

Women writers on peace and war

====

Luise Mühlbach
From Frederick the Great and His Court
Translator not identified

“The gleaming phantom known as of fame appears before me every day. I know it is folly, but folly from which a man frees himself with difficulty when once possessed by her. Do not speak to me of dangers, cares, wear, and tear; what are they all in comparison with fame? It is so mad a passion that I cannot comprehend why it does not turn everyone’s head.”

“Your Majesty, for thousands this passion has not only turned their heads, but cost their heads,” said Jordan, sadly. “The battle-field is, of course, the golden book of the heroes, but their names are written in it in blood.”

Categories: Uncategorized

Katharine Lee Bates: The doomful, mad torpedo, the colossal slaughter-guns

====

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

Katharine Lee Bates: Selections on war and peace

====

Katharine Bates
The Cry

Multitudionous the cry beating on the smoke-veiled sky.
Since the first war-wrath burst on immortal Belgium,
– Roar of cannon, shriek of shells, toll of earthward-crashing bells,
Thunder of the bomb exploding, careless where its tortures come.
Under all, the dreadful moan of the battlefield, far-strown
With those cleft bodies left like a wreck of broken spars.

Oh, the Raphaels, Davids lost in that welter!
Oh, life’s cost,
As a giant tread had crushed into dark a sky of stars!
And for every dying throb of those millions, women sob;
East or west, a mother’s breast is the same to cherish sons;
From the Ganges, Danube, Rhone, sorrow wails her antiphone
To the doomful, mad torpedo, the colossal slaughter-guns.

There’s no silence left on earth for the dream that brings to birth
Beauty, grace, no fair space on this crimsoned, tattered chart,
Not one walled and cloistered spot where on every air come not
Groanings of a hurt creation, troubling all the job of art.

But a hope has gone abroad, a hope that crowns the sword;
Faces shine with divine courage for a gain high-priced.
Peace shall be the prize of strife, death shall yet deliver life,
That this cry may nevermore beat upon the heart of Christ.

Categories: Uncategorized

Joseph Victor von Scheffel: The Muses heal what Mars has wrought

====

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

German writers on peace and war

Joseph Victor von Scheffel: The wood of peace

====

Joseph Victor von Scheffel
From The Trumpeter
Translated by Jessie Beck and Louise Lorimer

“Bitter war has on our country
Many bitter wounds inflicted,
And within our German borders
Rudeness has all too long flourished.
It is good, then, to repose us
In the Muses’ peaceful grottoes.
These revive, refresh, ennoble,
While they tame our savage spirits.
What upon the walls is painted
Tells me of no common effort.
What my ears have been regaled with
Causes me to think most highly
Of the men who have performed it.
Memories rose up before me
Of my young days, long forgotten,
When, in Rome, I loved to listen
To Cavalieri’s ‘Daphne,’
And, in soft, Arcadian longings
To expand my melting spirit.
Lay your offerings, good my masters,
Ever on Dame Music’s altar.
Let your notes ring fair together,
Hold aloof from brawls politic.
Would that such harmonious spirit
Over all the land would settle!”

***

Many a one among us younger,
Later-born of human children,
Sees in dreams some peaceful islet
Where full gladly he would nestle,
And in calm would lave his spirit,
Calm of forests, peace of Sabbaths.
Many a one sets out with longing,
But if ever, as he wanders,
He draws near that vision country,
Straight it vanishes before him,
As recedes the wondrous mirrored
Image of the Fay Morgana.

Categories: Uncategorized