A Meditation In Time Of War

FOR one throb of the artery,
While on that old grey stone I Sat
Under the old wind-broken tree,
I knew that One is animate,
Mankind inanimate fantasy'.

by William Butler Yeats.

The Statue Of Sherman By St. Gaudens

This is the soldier brave enough to tell
The glory-dazzled world that `war is hell':
Lover of peace, he looks beyond the strife,
And rides through hell to save his country's life.

by Henry Van Dyke.

Tell Brave Deeds Of War

"Tell brave deeds of war."

Then they recounted tales, --
"There were stern stands
And bitter runs for glory."

Ah, I think there were braver deeds.

by Stephen Crane.

What General Has A Good Army

WHAT General has a good army in himself, has a good army;
He happy in himself, or she happy in herself, is happy,
But I tell you you cannot be happy by others, any more than you can
beget or conceive a child by others.

by Walt Whitman.

On Being Asked For A War Poem

I THINK it better that in times like these
A poet's mouth be silent, for in truth
We have no gift to set a statesman right;
He has had enough of medding who can please
A young girl in the indolence of her youth,
Or an old man upon a winter's night.

by William Butler Yeats.

The Man-O-War Hawk

Yon black man-of-war-hawk that wheels in
the light
O'er the black ship's white sky-s'l, sunned
cloud to the sight,
Have we low-flyers wings to ascend to his
height?
No arrow can reach him; nor thought can
attain
To the placid supreme in the sweep of his
reign.

by Herman Melville.

The Young Soldier

It is not death
Without hereafter
To one in dearth
Of life and its laughter,

Nor the sweet murder
Dealt slow and even
Unto the martyr
Smiling at heaven:

It is the smile
Faint as a (waning) myth,
Faint, and exceeding small
On a boy's murdered mouth.

by Wilfred Owen.

There Was Crimson Clash Of War.

There was crimson clash of war.
Lands turned black and bare;
Women wept;
Babes ran, wondering.
There came one who understood not these things.
He said, "Why is this?"
Whereupon a million strove to answer him.
There was such intricate clamour of tongues,
That still the reason was not.

by Stephen Crane.

Dusk In War Time

A half-hour more and you will lean
To gather me close in the old sweet way--
But oh, to the woman over the sea
Who will come at the close of day?

A half-hour more and I will hear
The key in the latch and the strong quick tread--
But oh, the woman over the sea
Waiting at dusk for one who is dead!

by Sara Teasdale.

Epitaph On An Army Of Mercenaries

These, in the day when heaven was falling,
The hour when earth's foundations fled,
Followed their mercenary calling
And took their wages and are dead.

Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood, and earth's foundations stay;
What God abandoned, these defended,
And saved the sum of things for pay.

by Alfred Edward Housman.

The Dying Soldier

' Here are houses,' he moaned,
'I could reach, but my brain swims.'
Then they thundered and flashed,
And shook the earth to its rims.

'They are gunpits,' he gasped,
'Our men are at the guns.
Water! . . . Water! . . , Oh, water !
For one of England's dying sons.'

' We cannot give you water,
Were all England in your breath.'
' Water! . .. Water! . . . Oh, water !'
fie moaned and swooned to death,

by Isaac Rosenberg.

An Army Corps On The March


WITH its cloud of skirmishers in advance,
With now the sound of a single shot, snapping like a whip, and now an
irregular volley,
The swarming ranks press on and on, the dense brigades press on;
Glittering dimly, toiling under the sun--the dust-cover'd men,
In columns rise and fall to the undulations of the ground,
With artillery interspers'd--the wheels rumble, the horses sweat,
As the army corps advances.

by Walt Whitman.

That Pretty Girl In The Army

“Now I often sit at Watty’s, when the night is very near
With a head that’s full of jingles – and the fumes of bottled beer;
For I always have a fancy that, if I am over there
When the Army prays for Watty, I’m included in the prayer.

“It would take a lot of praying, lots of thumping on the drum,
To prepare our sinful, straying, erring souls for Kingdom Come,
But I love my fellow-sinners! And I hope upon the whole,
That the Army gets a hearing when it prays for Watty’s soul.

by Henry Lawson.

At The War Office, London.

I

Last year I called this world of gain-givings
The darkest thinkable, and questioned sadly
If my own land could heave its pulse less gladly,
So charged it seemed with circumstance whence springs
The tragedy of things.

II

Yet at that censured time no heart was rent
Or feature blanched of parent, wife, or daughter
By hourly blazoned sheets of listed slaughter;
Death waited Nature's wont; Peace smiled unshent
From Ind to Occident.

by Thomas Hardy.

Soldier: Twentieth Century

I love you, great new Titan!
Am I not you?
Napoleon or Caesar
Out of you grew.

Out of the unthinkable torture,
Eyes kissed by death,
Won back to the world again,
Lost and won in a breath,

Cruel men are made immortal,
Out of your pain born.
They have stolen the sun’s power
With their feet on your shoulders worn.

Let them shrink from your girth,
That has outgrown the pallid days,
When you slept like Circe’s swine,
Or a word in the brain’s way.

by Isaac Rosenberg.

At The War Office, London (Affixing The Lists Of Killed And Wounded: December, 1899)

I

Last year I called this world of gain-givings
The darkest thinkable, and questioned sadly
If my own land could heave its pulse less gladly,
So charged it seemed with circumstance whence springs
   The tragedy of things.

II

Yet at that censured time no heart was rent
Or feature blanched of parent, wife, or daughter
By hourly blazoned sheets of listed slaughter;
Death waited Nature's wont; Peace smiled unshent
   From Ind to Occident.

by Thomas Hardy.

THE horns of the moon are tipped
With pearl. Her lover, wooed
By charms and won, Endymion,
Inherits quietude.
White the gleam
Of the dream
On his eyes.
The horns of the sun are dipt
In ruddy flame that flings
Adventurous young Icarus
To earth on ruined wings.
But he flew,
But he knew
Winds and skies.
Lucifer's horns have a crust
Of gold and topaz gem
On points that thrust to yellow dust
The heart that covets them.
Heed! take heed!
For by greed
Glory dies.

by Katharine Lee Bates.

To Her: In Time Of War

Once I made for you songs,
Rondels, triolets, sonnets;
Verse that my love deemed due,
Verse that your love found fair.
Now the wide wings of war
Hang, like a hawk's, over England,
Shadowing meadows and groves;
And the birds and the lovers are mute.

Yet there's a thing to say
Before I go into battle,
Not now a poet's word
But a man's word to his mate:
Dear, if I come back never,
Be it your pride that we gave
The hope of our hearts, each other,
For the sake of the Hope of the World.

by Edith Nesbit.

Spring In War-Time

Now the sprinkled blackthorn snow
Lies along the lover’s lane
Where last year we used to go-
Where we shall not go again.

In the hedge the buds are new,
By our wood the violets peer-
Just like last year’s violets too,
But they have no scent this year.

Every bird has heart to sing
Of its nest, warmed by its breast;
We had heart to sing last spring,
But we never built our nest.

Presently red roses blown
Will make all the garden gay..
Not yet have the daisies grown
On your clay.

by Edith Nesbit.

On Receiving News Of The War

Snow is a strange white word.
No ice or frost
Has asked of bud or bird
For Winter's cost.

Yet ice and frost and snow
From earth to sky
This Summer land doth know.
No man knows why.

In all men's hearts it is.
Some spirit old
Hath turned with malign kiss
Our lives to mould.

Red fangs have torn His face.
God's blood is shed.
He mourns from His lone place
His children dead.

O! ancient crimson curse!
Corrode, consume.
Give back this universe
Its pristine bloom.

by Isaac Rosenberg.

A Military Incident

Dawn heralded the coming sun
Fort Douglas was computing
The minutes-and the sunrise gun
Was manned for his saluting.

The gunner at that firearm stood,
The which he slowly loaded,
When, bang!-I know not how it could,
But sure the charge exploded!

Yes, to that veteran's surprise
The gun went off sublimely,
And both his busy arms likewise
Went off with it, untimely.

Then said that gunner to his mate
(He was from Ballyshannon):
'Bedad, the sun's a minute late,
Accardin' to this cannon!'

by Ambrose Bierce.

From A War Station

In Oxford now the lamps are lit.
The city bells ring low,
And up and down the silent town
The ghosts of friendship go.

With whispering laughs they meet and pass
As we were used to do,
And somewhere in the airy crowd
My spirit walks with you.

The troopers quarter in the rooms
That once were yours and mine,
And you are lying out to-night
Behind the firing-line.

But still in rooms that were our own
We wander, you and I,
And night and day our spirits walk
Along the empty High.

by Ewart Alan Mackintosh.

John Jackson, once a soldier bold,
Hath still a martial feeling;
So, when he sees a foe, behold!
He charges him-with stealing.

He cares not how much ground to-day
He gives for men to doubt him;
He's used to giving ground, they say,
Who lately fought with-out him.

When, for the battle to be won,
His gallantry was needed,
They say each time a loaded gun
Went off-so, likewise, he did.

And when discharged (for war's a sport
So hot he had to leave it)
He made a very loud report,
But no one did believe it.

by Ambrose Bierce.

Soldier from the wars returning

Soldier from the wars returning,
Spoiler of the taken town,
Here is ease that asks not earning;
Turn you in and sit you down.

Peace is come and wars are over,
Welcome you and welcome all,
While the charger crops the clover
And his bridle hangs in stall.

Now no more of winters biting,
Filth in trench from tall to spring,
Summers full of sweat and fighting
For the Kesar or the King.

Rest you, charger, rust you, bridle;
Kings and kesars, keep your pay;
Soldier, sit you down and idle
At the inn of night for aye.

by Alfred Edward Housman.

Impromptu On Dumourier's Desertion Of The French Republican Army

YOU'RE welcome to Despots, Dumourier;
You're welcome to Despots, Dumourier:
How does Dampiere do?
Ay, and Bournonville too?
Why did they not come along with you, Dumourier?


I will fight France with you, Dumourier;
I will fight France with you, Dumourier;
I will fight France with you,
I will take my chance with you;
By my soul, I'll dance with you, Dumourier.


Then let us fight about, Dumourier;
Then let us fight about, Dumourier;
Then let us fight about,
Till Freedom's spark be out,
Then we'll be d—d, no doubt, Dumourier.

by Robert Burns.

For A War Memorial

(SUGGESTED INSCRIPTION PROBABLY NOT SUGGESTED BY THE COMMITTEE)

The hucksters haggle in the mart
The cars and carts go by;
Senates and schools go droning on;
For dead things cannot die.

A storm stooped on the place of tombs
With bolts to blast and rive;
But these be names of many men
The lightning found alive.

If usurers rule and rights decay
And visions view once more
Great Carthage like a golden shell
Gape hollow on the shore,

Still to the last of crumbling time
Upon this stone be read
How many men of England died
To prove they were not dead.

by Gilbert Keith Chesterton.

Home furthest off grows dearer from the way;
And when the army in the Indias lay
Friends' letters coming from his native place
Were like old neighbours with their country face.
And every opportunity that came
Opened the sheet to gaze upon the name
Of that loved village where he left his sheep
For more contented peaceful folk to keep;
And friendly faces absent many a year
Would from such letters in his mind appear.
And when his pockets, chafing through the case,
Wore it quite out ere others took the place,
Right loath to be of company bereft
He kept the fragments while a bit was left.

by John Clare.

On The Danger Of War

Avert, High Wisdom, never vainly wooed,
This threat of War, that shows a land brain-sick.
When nations gain the pitch where rhetoric
Seems reason they are ripe for cannon's food.
Dark looms the issue though the cause be good,
But with the doubt 'tis our old devil's trick.
O now the down-slope of the lunatic
Illumine lest we redden of that brood.
For not since man in his first view of thee
Ascended to the heavens giving sign
Within him of deep sky and sounded sea,
Did he unforfeiting thy laws transgress;
In peril of his blood his ears incline
To drums whose loudness is their emptiness.

by George Meredith.

Mid-Ocean In War-Time

The fragile splendour of the level sea,
The moon's serene and silver-veiled face,
Make of this vessel an enchanted place
Full of white mirth and golden sorcery.
Now, for a time, shall careless laughter be
Blended with song, to lend song sweeter grace,
And the old stars, in their unending race,
Shall heed and envy young humanity.

And yet to-night, a hundred leagues away,
These waters blush a strange and awful red.
Before the moon, a cloud obscenely grey
Rises from decks that crash with flying lead.
And these stars smile their immemorial way
On waves that shroud a thousand newly dead!

by Joyce Kilmer.

This was a leader of the sons of light,
Of winsome cheer and strenuous command.
Upon the veteran hordes of Bigot-land
All day his vanguard spirit, flaming bright,
Bore up the brunt of unavailing fight.
Then, with the iron in his soul, one hand
Still on the hilt, he passed from that slim band
Out through the ranks to rearward and the night.
The day is lost, but not the day of days,
And ye his comrades in the losing war
Stand once again for liberty and love!
Close up the ranks; his deed your deeds let praise!
Against the front of dark where gleams one star,
Strive on to death as this great captain strove!

by Bliss William Carman.

Sonnet On The American War.

She has gone down! Woe for the world, and all
Its weary workers! gazing from afar
At the clear rising of that hopeful star;
Star of redemption to each weeping thrall
Of pow'r decrepit, and of rule outworn;
Beautiful shining of that blessed morn,
Which was to bring leave for the poor to live;
To work and rest, to labour and to thrive,
And righteous room for all who nobly strive:
She has gone down! Woe for the struggling world,
Back on its path of progress sternly hurled!
Land of sufficient harvests for all dearth,
Home of far-seeing Hope, Time's latest birth,—
Woe for the promised land of the whole earth!

by Frances Anne Kemble.

O English mother, in the ruddy glow
Hugging your baby closer when outside
You see the silent, soft, and cruel snow
Falling again, and think what ills betide
Unshelter'd creatures,- your sad thoughts may go
Where War and Winter now, two spectre-wolves,
Hunt in the freezing vapour that involves
Those Asian peaks of ice and gulfs below.
Does this young Soldier heed the snow that fills
His mouth and open eyes? or mind, in truth,
To-night, his mother's parting syllables?
Ha! is't a red coat? - Merely blood. Keep ruth
For others; this is but an Afghan youth
Shot by the stranger on his native hills.

by William Allingham.

(Brisbane)

'A little Soldier of the Army of the Night'
BURY him without a word!
No appeal to death;
Only the call of the bird
And the blind spring's breath.
Nature slays ten, yet the one
Reaches but to a part
Of what's to be done, to be sung.
Keep we a proud heart!
Let us not glose her waste
With lies and dreams;
Fawn on her wanton haste,
Say it but seems.
Comrades, with faces unstirred,
Scorning grief's dole,
Though with him, with him lies interred
Our heart and soul,
Bury him without a word!
No appeal to death;
Only the call of the bird
And the blind spring's breath.

by Francis William Lauderdale Adams.

Spring In War Time

I feel the Spring far off, far off,
The faint far scent of bud and leaf--
Oh how can Spring take heart to come
To a world in grief,
Deep grief?

The sun turns north, the days grow long,
Later the evening star grows bright--
How can the daylight linger on
For men to fight,
Still fight?

The grass is waking in the ground,
Soon it will rise and blow in waves--
How can it have the heart to sway
Over the graves,
New graves?

Under the boughs where lovers walked
The apple-blooms will shed their breath--
But what of all the lovers now
Parted by death,
Gray Death?

by Sara Teasdale.

Accurs'D Be He That First Invented War

Accurs'd be he that first invented war!
They knew not, ah, they knew not, simple men,
How those were hit by pelting cannon-shot
Stand staggering like a quivering aspen-leaf
Fearing the force of Boreas' boisterous blasts!
In what a lamentable case where I,
If nature had not given me wisdom's lore!
For kings are clouts that every man shoots at,
Our crown the pin that thousands seek to cleave:
Therefore in policy I think it good
To hide it close; a goodly stratagem,
And far from any man that is a fool:
So shall not I be known; or if I be,
They cannot take away my crown from me.
Here will I hide it in this simple hole.

by Christopher Marlowe.

The War Of Bread

'There shall be no unwarranted manipulation of
the nation's food supply by those who handle it
on the way to the consumer.'—President Wilson.

Of all the wars that waste this world,
Where the life of man has bled,
This is the war I most abhor—
The theft of the people's bread!

They who hold back what the kind Earth gave
In the billowing fields of grain,
Are the cowardliest foe—for their secret blow
Strikes for their own base gain.

Arm of the law, reach forth in your might,
And the hidden stores unbind,
And defeat their power who, at this hour,
Wage dastardly war on their kind!

by Edith Matilda Thomas.

Today, while yet the rumour filled the street,
I left your faces troubled with the thought
Of brothers to a bodeful fury wrought;
And, hurrying past a thousand twinkling feet,
With clouded heart a solitude I sought,
The haunt of many leaves--a cool retreat--
And mused of strife with untold interest fraught;
Of homes; of bloody battles to be fought;
Nor stirred till night rose stormy, and the deep
Moaned like some monster shaken in its sleep.
Then doleful sounds came up from lea and lynn
Where rain fell heavy on the gloomy deep,
As if the world, so old and sick of sin,
Had turned her face into the dark to weep.

by Henry Kendall.

To England At The Outbreak Of The Balkan War

A cloud has lowered that shall not soon pass o'er.
The world takes sides: whether for impious aims
With Tyranny whose bloody toll enflames
A generous people to heroic war;
Whether with Freedom, stretched in her own gore,
Whose pleading hands and suppliant distress
Still offer hearts that thirst for Righteousness
A glorious cause to strike or perish for.
England, which side is thine? Thou hast had sons
Would shrink not from the choice however grim,
Were Justice trampled on and Courage downed;
Which will they be -- cravens or champions?
Oh, if a doubt intrude, remember him
Whose death made Missolonghi holy ground.

by Alan Seeger.

1914 V: The Soldier

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

by Rupert Brooke.

Sonnet 46: Mine Eye And Heart Are At A Mortal War

Mine eye and heart are at a mortal war
How to divide the conquest of thy sight;
Mine eye my heart thy picture's sight would bar,
My heart mine eye the freedom of that right,
My heart doth plead that thou in him dost lie—
A closet never pierced with crystal eyes—
But the defendant doth that plea deny,
And says in him thy fair appearance lies.
To 'cide this title is impanellèd
A quest of thoughts, all tenants to the heart,
And by their verdict is determinèd
The clear eye's moiety, and the dear heart's part.
As thus, mine eye's due is thy outward part,
And my heart's right thy inward love of heart.

by William Shakespeare.

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