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Poem by John Davidson
In anguish we uplift A new unhallowed song: The race is to the swift; The battle to the strong. Of old it was ordained That we, in packs like curs, Some thirty million trained And licensed murderers, In crime should live and act, If cunning folk say sooth Who flay the naked fact And carve the heart of truth. The rulers cry aloud, "We cannot cancel war, The end and bloody shroud Of wrongs the worst abhor, And order's swaddling band: Know that relentless strife Remains by sea and land The holiest law of life. From fear in every guise, From sloth, from lust of pelf, By war's great sacrifice The world redeems itself. War is the source, the theme Of art; the goal, the bent And brilliant academe Of noble sentiment; The augury, the dawn Of golden times of grace; The true catholicon, And blood-bath of the race." We thirty million trained And licensed murderers, Like zanies rigged, and chained By drill and scourge and curse In shackles of despair We know not how to break -- What do we victims care For art, what interest take In things unseen, unheard? Some diplomat no doubt Will launch a heedless word, And lurking war leap out! We spell-bound armies then, Huge brutes in dumb distress, Machines compact of men Who once had consciences, Must trample harvests down -- Vineyard, and corn and oil; Dismantle town by town, Hamlet and homestead spoil On each appointed path, Till lust of havoc light A blood-red blaze of wrath In every frenzied sight. In many a mountain pass, Or meadow green and fresh, Mass shall encounter mass Of shuddering human flesh; Opposing ordnance roar Across the swaths of slain, And blood in torrents pour In vain -- always in vain, For war breeds war again! The shameful dream is past, The subtle maze untrod: We recognise at last That war is not of God.
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