Lachlan passed away in January 2010.  As a memorial, this site remains as he left it.
Therefore the information on this site may not be current or accurate and should not be relied upon.
For more information follow this link


(This Webpage Page in No Frames Mode)

Welcome to Lachlan Cranswick's Personal Homepage in Melbourne, Australia

Extracts from the "Poems of War Resistance" 1966 Peace Calendar - War Resisters League, New York

Lachlan's Homepage is at http://lachlan.bluehaze.com.au

[Back to Lachlan's Homepage] | [What's New at Lachlan's Homepage] | [Historial things, Literature and Poetry] | [Literature]

[Baltasar Gracian's (1601-1658) The Art of Worldly Wisdom]
[Beard: An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States]

Calendar cover

Believing war to be
a crime against humanity,
the War Resisters League,
founded in 1923,
advocates Gandhian nonviolence
as the method for creating
a democratic society,
free of war,
racism
and human exploitation

The proceeds from the sale
of this Calendar
will be used by the League
in its work for peace
at home and abroad


The 1966 Peace Calendar
is dedicated to
JESSIE WALLACE HUGHAN
December 25, 1875-April 10, 1955

Jessie Wallace Hughan, a pioneer in the pacifist movement, was the founder of the War Resisters League - the American Section of the War Resisters International. She had already played a leading role in establishing the American Anti-Enlistment League in 1915 and of the American Fellowship of Reconciliation. To meet the growing need for a pacifist organnzation open to all persons, regardless of their religious beliefs or lack of them, she founded the War Resisters League in 1923.

For many years she was the War Resisters League, working almost single-handedly to enlist both young Christians and young socialists. She spoke and wrote ceaselessly in its behalf. A militant in every sense, she not only gave her life to the League, but was also an active member of the teachers union and served frequently as a Socialist Party candidate for public office.

On her death John Haynes Holmes wrote. "Jessie Wallace Hughan stands in no need of eulogy. Her record through more than a half- century of time - her pamphlets, articles, books, and addresses at meetings, private and public, her mere presence as friend and coun- se]or-these are and will long remain her own best tribute." Yet the War Resisters Lague sought to add to this tribute and a volume of the great anti-war poems of all time seemed fitting. For Jessie Hughan not only loved poetry - she memorized much poetry and also wrote it. And there was a poetry to her life, not that of sentimentality, but rather that of struggle, of courage, of conflict and of involvement with the great issues of her, and our, day.

The poetry in this 1966 Peace Calendar is a sampling of the autholagy compiled at the League's request by Professor Scott Bates of the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee. A second sampling will form the 1967 Calendar. The full anthology, with a thoughtful introduction by Prof. Bates, will then be published in book form.

Jessie Wallace Hughan would have been delighted, we believe, with this volume. We offer it to the public as an expression of our respect and affection for the woman who led us for so long and who remained active in the work of the War Resisters League literally to the day of her death.


A FOREWORD BY LOUIS UNTERMEYER

Poets may not be, as Shelley fondly hoped, "the unacknowledged legislators of the world." But if they seldom-too seldom manage in world politics, the best of them act as more than mere commentators. They act as the world's conscience. They are as much concerned with truth as with beauty. They raise their voices for kindness as against cruelty, for freedom as against tyranny, and their words are weapons-weapons against injustice, intolerance, and hate. They are also, instinctively, inexorably, war resisters.

These poems prove it. From the first lines to the last, here are not only some of the most impassioned but also some of the most courageous statements of our times, convictions that are emphasized by those of a much older time. The opening lines-the words which Ghandi translated from the Sanskrit - might serve as the motto for the entire collection:

This and this alone
is true religion -
To serve thy brethren.

This is sin above all other sin -
To harm thy brethren.

The rest of the contributions exemplify and extend this credo, Classical pronouncements of the past alternate with protests of the present. Here, as appropriate today as when it was written a hundred and May years ago, is a forceful excerpt from Shelley's "Queen Mab," and matching its fervor is James Russell Lowell speaking in the Yankee vernacular of Ezekiel Biglow. It is also good to see Hardy's quaint and pathetic "The Man He Killed" together with Cowper's eighteenth century "The Task" and Gascoigne's sixteenth century conclusion that "warre seemes sweete to such as little know." It is also gratifying to find that the editor has not forgotten Edna St. Vincent Millay's clinched and caustic "Conscientious Objector," a complete departure from her rhymed lyrics and sonnets, and George Abbe's bizarre "I Saw an Army.

It would be invidious to name what might seem the most memorable pages, but no one can ever forget Wilfred Owen a blistering answer to the cant of his title, "Dulce et Decorum Est," which in its complete form is "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori," or "To die for one's country is sweet and becoming."

Of the strictly contemporary poets no reader should miss Stephen Spender's dramatic reminiscence of the Spanish Civil War, Louis MacNeice's savage "Brother Fire," Eve Merriam's tenderly pitiful "The Coward,' and Rolart Lowell's nostalgic but powerful "Chrismas Eve Under Hooker's Statue," full of the eloquence and deeply moving strength which has made Lowell the most celebraced poet of his generation.

As the end of an unfinished preface to his then uncollected poems Wilfred Owen wrote: "This book is not about heroes. English poetry is not yet fit to speak of them. . . . I am not concerned with Poetry. My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity. . . . All a poet can do today is to warn. This is why the true poets most be truthful."

These were the words with which Owen began his book. They are also the words with which I would like to introduce this one.


(January 10th to January 16th)

Laotse Chinese, Sixth Century B.C.

The first major pacifist work in history, The Way of Life or The Book of Tao, was written from the ideas of LAOTSE, the founder of the religion of Taoism, Legend has is that he was born with white hair at the age of 72 and died at the age of 160 (or 200); his name appropriately means "Old Philosopher." He was a contemporary of Confucius, and his book became the Chinese Gospel.

from THE WAY OF LIFE (THE BOOK OF TAO)

LXVIII.

The best captain does not plunge headlong
Nor is the best soldier a fellow hot to fight.
The greatest victor wins without a battle:
He who overcomes men understands them.
There is a quality of quietness
Which quickens people by no stress:
"Fellowship with heaven," as of old,
Is fellowship with men and keeps its hold.

LXXVIII,

What is more fluid, more yielding than water?
Yet back it comes again, wearing down the rigid strength
Which cannot yield to withstand it.
So it is that the strong are overcome by the weak,
The haughty by the humble.
This we know
But never learn,
So that when wise men tell us,
"He who bites the dust
Is owner of the earth,
He who is scapegoat
Is King,"
They seem to twist the truth.

LXXIX

If terms to end a quarrel leave bad feeling,
What good are they?
So a sensible man takes the poor end of the bargain
Without quibbling.
It is sensible to make terms,
Foolish to be a stickler:
Though heaven prefer no man,
A sensible man prefers heaven.

Translated by Witter Bynner


(January 17 to January 32)

Here comes Jesus, lowly Jesus, riding on a battleship
"Rule Britannia" in his pocket, pistols on his hip.
Simon Peter happening near turns and says to me:
"Gracious, how the Lord has changed since old Gethsemane."

Wilson Macdonald (Canadian, c. 1920)


(January 24 to January 30)

George Abbe American, 1911-

I SAW AN ARMY

I saw an army coming against the sun.
Its men were faceless and its banners dead.
No cheering voice was lifted - no, not one.
The broken Resh or wounds forgot to bleed.

Upon their shields they bore their children's limbs
Seared in the oven of atomic glare;
Their belts were fission; and their armor gleam
The dust of blasts beyond the stratosphere.

Pricked was their skin and threaded white with steel
The flame of rockets wriched along their thighs;
A chemistry of missiles bent the knee
And clothed the sorrowing mouth, the darkened eye.

Yet in their ranks they marched upon the sun,
With hands hung weaponless, with cindered cheek,
And spectral footstep faint as desert wind
That fails before it finds the strengh to speak.

From death, the burning core of light, I watched,
And cried with soundless throat, "Beware! Beware!"
But deaf they moved, straight to what I had sought:
The fire of mastery, the target of power.


30 January: Gandhi's assassination - 1948


(January 31 to February 6)

J. M. Whitfield American

Little is known of J. M. Whitfield beyond the facts that he was a Negro barber in lieffalo before the Civil War, wrote a single volume of poetry, and was an Abolitionist. His prayer in the following poem for a peaceful emancipation of southern slaves partly derives from the example set by England in the West Indies a few years earlier. This is the beginning and end of the poem; the middle section tells ironically how Negroes fought for liberty by the side of whites in the Revolutionary War, only to lind themselves even more oppressed of its conclusion,

from AMERICA [1853]

America, it is to thee,
Thou boasted land of Liberty,-
It is to thee I raise my song,
Thou land of blood, and crime, and wrong.
It is to thee, my native land,
From whence has issued many a band
To tear the black men from his soil,
And force him here to delve and toil;
Chained on your blood-bemoistened sod,
Cringing beneath a tyrant's rod,
Stripped of those rights which Nature's God
Bequeathed to all the human race,
Bound to a petty tyrant's nod,
Because he wears a paler face. .

Almighty God! 'tis this they call
The land of liberty and law;
Part of its sons in baser thrall
Than Babylon or Egypt saw-
Worse scenes of rapine, lust and shame,
Than Babylonian ever knew,
Are perpetrated in the name
Of God, the holy, just, and true;
And darker doom than Egypt felt,
May yet repay this nation's guilt. . .

Father! before thy throne we come,
Not in the panoply of war,
With pealing trump, and rolling drum,
And cannon booming loud and far;
Striving in blood to wash out blood,
Through wrong to seek redress for wrong;
For while thou'rt holy, just and good,
The battle is not to the strong;
But in the sacred name of peace,
Of justice, virtue, love and truth,
We pray, and never mean to cease.
Till weak old age and fiery youth
In freedom's cause their voices raise,
And burst the bonds of every slave
Till, north and south, and east and west,
The wrongs we bear shall be redressed.


(January 7 to February 13)

William Ellery Leonard: American, 1876-1944

Eugene Debs, the great socialist and pacifist, was sentenced to ten years imprisonment in 1918 for making an anti-war speech. When the Supreme Court upheld the sentence, William Ellery Leonard, noted scholar and poet, who had often fought social injus tice with poetry, wrote "The Old Agitator," probably the most noteworthy of the many poems decrying this event.

from THE OLD AGITATOR

So let it be . . . a state must have firm laws
And watchful citizens that balk
Against a wagging tongue . .
And one grown gray and gaunt with too much talk,
Who has long since forgotten when to pause,
Or how to please,
May trip at last-even in democracies...
And, chiefly, if he camper with the young,
And worship not the old divinities . . .
And when the charge is read him clause by clause.
And he replies with scanty penitence,
He'll find (as found that worthy man
At whose incessant lips once Athens took offense)
The gentry of his latter audience
Most ominously niggard of applause . ..
And though even then he talk . . . as talk he can .
He lights (like Socrates) on no defense-
Except reiteration of his cause.

So be it . . . his was fair trial and due appeal
Under those just, majestic guarantees
That give the Stars and Stripes their destinies
Over a free (but ordered) commonweal!
That incorruptible and austere court
Of okl men to this old man made report:
They made report, this row of staunch patricians.
Unto the bald lone tall man of the plebs;
They bore no grudge, they took no gold,
They may have loved him - for they too were old;

But, seated in their ancient nine positions.
They sealed the prison sunset-years for Debs -
As vindicators of those stern traditions
That tore from black Dred Scott his freeman's shirt,
And locked free child in factory dark and dirt.

So let it be . . . there's nothing for surprise . . .
The thing's so old . . . so wearisomely grim . . .
Nothing for grief . . . except the shame . .
Grieve for the nation, not for him..
For he has but begun his enterprise,
And in this silence Ends the lips of flame.


12 Feburary: Lincoln's Birthday - 1809


(February 21 to 27)

Olivier de Magny French, 1529-1560

Lines composed by a young court poet to a feudal stronghold in the south of France.

SONNET: TO THE CASTLE AT GORDES

Gordes, what shall we do? Shall we never have peace?
Shall we never have peace sometime on earth?
Will peace on earth never come to birth
And the people's burden of war never cease?

I see nothing but soldiers, but horses and gear,
I hear nothing but discourse of conquest and arms
I hear nothing but trumpets and battle-alarms,
Naught but blood and anger do I see, do I hear.

The princes play with our lives today;
When our lives like our goods they have stolen away
Neither power nor care will they have to restore.

Unhappy are we to live under these stars
Surrounded by evils, afflicted by war;
Theirs is the guilt; but the sorrow is ours.

Translated from the French by Scott Bates


26 February: Jimmy Lee Jackson killed by Selma, Alabama - 1965


11 March: Rev. James Reeb killed by hoodlums, Selma, Alabama - 1965


(March 14 to 20)

Basho / Issa

Basho (1644-94) was a Japanese Buddhist priest and the uncontested master of the haiku, an epigrammatic little poem in seventeen syllables designed to pervade more than persuade. Basho wrote the following at the famous battlefield of Hira-Izoumi; his hatred for war, Buddhist-inspired, was shared by seventeenth- and eighteenth- century Japanese philosophers.

ALL THAT IS LEFT

Old battle field, fresh with Spring flowers again-
All that is left of the dream
Of twice ten thousand warriors slain.

Translated from the Japanese by Curtis Hidden Page


26 March: Mrs. Viola Luizzo killed by racists, Lowndes County, Alabama - 1965


26 March: Alice Herz dies after setting herself on fire, March 16 in Detroit, as protest against US actions in Vietnam - 1965


(March 28 to April 3)

John Scott English, 1730-1783

The Quaker sect is as old as the first Quaker, Jesus Christ. So the young Voltaire learned on his exile in England when he made friends with several members of the sect and first learned of their gentle ways. "We never go to War," he reports one said to him, "not because we fear death, . . . but because we are neither wolves, nor tigers, nor dogs, but men, but Christians. Our God who ordered us to love our enemies and to suffer without complaint doubtless does not wish us to cross the seas and slay our brethren merely because certain red-coated murderers enroll the Citizens by making noises with two little sticks on stretched asses' hide. . . ."

This poem is by quaker poet John Scott.

I HATE THAT DRUM'S DISCORDANT SOUND

I hate that drum's discordant sound,
Parading round, and round, and round:
To thoughtless youth it pleasure yields,
And lures from cities and from fields,
To sell their liberty for charms
Of tawdry lace and glitt'ring arms;
And when Ambition's voice commands,
To march, and fight, and fall, in foreign lands.

I hate that drum's discordant sound,
Parading round, and round, and round:
To me it talks of ravag'd plains,
And burning towns, and ruin'd swains,
And mangled limbs, and dying groans,
And widows' tears, and orphans' moans;
And all that Misery's hand bestows,
To fill the catalogue of human woes.


(April 3 to 10)

Wang Tsan Chinese, 177-217 A.D.

"Pa Ling-mentioned at the end of the poem-is the place where Emperor Wen of the Han dynasty was buried. His reign was noted for peace and prosperity, but his successor, Emperor Wu, started wars and plunged the country into misery. In paying a tribute to Emperor Wen, the poet was indirectly showing his disapproval of his suc- cessor."-Translator's Note.

WAR IN CHANG-AN CITY

Chang-an in utter confusion
as though wolves and tigers had been
let loose; and I turned into a refugee
seeking to escape from my own country
to the borders of another; my home sad
and bitter that I must go; my friends wishing
to escape with me.

Leaving the city
one saw nothing, for the horror of the surroundings
blotted out all else; everywhere
the white bones of the dead were
scattered and on the roads were starving women
putting the children they could not feed
into the grass to die;
the abandoned child cries, yet the mother
dare not turn her head, though herself
shedding tears, saying she knew not where
she would die herself, and surely both
could not keep alive; and I, rather than
listen to such bitter words, goad my horse
along faster;
on the South I climb to Pa Ling, looking
back at Chang-an; then, thinking of the good king
who lies there, long with a broken heart
for the sweet day of peace.

Translated from the Chinese by Rewi Alley


7 April: Rev. Bruce Klunder crushed to death by bulldozer in Cleveland civil rights demonstration - 1964


23 April: Murder of William Moore on solitary walk for reconciliation in Alabama - 1963


(April 25 to May 1)

William G. Eggleston : American

"Our New National Hymn" was printed in the Asheville, N.C., Sunday Republican on September 27, 1899; it serves as a sample of the many poems of protest written both in America and abroad during our expansionist Spanish-American War.

OUR NEW NATIONAL HYMN

We are marching on to glory with the Bible in our hands,
We are carrying the gospel to the lost in foreign lands;
We are marching on to glory, we are going forth to save
With the zeal of ancient pirate, with the prayer of modern knave;
We are robbing Christian churches in our missionary zeal,
And we carry Christ's own message in our shells and bloody steel.
By the light of burning roof-trees they may read the Word of Life,
In the mangled forms of children they may see the Christian strife.
We are healing with the Gatling, we are blessing with the sword;
For the Honor of the Nation and the Glory of the Lord.

Then march on, Christian soldiers! with word and torch in hand,
And carry free salvation to each benighted land!
Go, preach God's Love and Justice with steel and shot and shell!
Go, preach a future Heaven and prove a present Hell!
Baptize with blood and fire, with every gun's hot breath
Teach them to love the Father, and make them free in Death;
Proclaim the newer gospel, the cannon giveth peace,
Christ rides upon the warship his army to increase.
So bless them with the rifle and heal them with the sword,-
For the Honor of the Nation and the Glory of the Lord!


3 May: Haymarket Massacre - 1886


(May 9 to 15)

Albrecht Haushofer (German, 1903-45)

Son of the famous geo-politician Karl Haushofer, who had aided Hitler by creating the "lebensraum" thesis, ALBRECHT MAUSHOFER turned against the Nazis and became associated with the group that attempted to assassinate Hitler. Found dead in the Moabit prison by Allied soldiers entering Berlin, having been shot by the Nazis a few hours before, he clutched in one hand the sonnet sequence from which the above poem was taken.

GUILT

The kind of guilt the court will brand me with-
The shame of my schemes-I carry lightly.
If I had not planned the morning of the people
From my own need, I would have been a criminal.
Still I am guilty, but not for their reasons.
A long time ago I should have known my duty,
I should have called the acid of their evil-evil,
But my reason sought evasion far too long
And in my heart a voice accuses me:
For years I have betrayed my conscience,
Deceived myself and many of my friends.
Early I sensed the cries of endless misery
And I warned but never hard enough and clear-
Today I know what kind of guilt accuses here.

translated by James Schevill.


17 May: Supreme Court anti-school segregation decision - 1954


(May 23 to 29)

Victor Hugo, French, 1802-1895

The following poem was written a few years before the Franco-Prussian War when the poet was in exile for having opposed the dictatorial regime of Napoleon III, Lilut was an apologist for the Napoleonic regime, Paixhans the inventor of a kind of cannon.

[TO MAKE THE PEOPLE HAPPY, LASH THEM WITH GUNS]

To make the people happy, lash them with guns.
The great words are empty, the high-sounding ones,
Fraternity, Justice, the Mission of France,
Liberty, Progress, Human Rights. Tolerance;
Socrates was mad. read Lilut and learn;
Christ, demagogue with a socialist turn,
Is much over-rated; the cannon is God,
Paixhans is its prophet; Earth, throw up your sod!
Man's ultimate aim is to learn how to kill.
The sword is the way to keep the people still.
Man's greatest achievement: the bullet. His star,
The light of a Lancaster bomb from afar.
His highest admirations under the sun,
The Armstrong mortar and the Cavalli gun.
God was mistaken: Caesar transcends:
In the beginning the Word; with Caesar it ends.
To think is sedition; to speak-worst of all!
The voice is for silence, the mind is-to crawl;
The world's on its belly, and man's greatness of yore,
Turns flabby and trembles; and-Peace! says War.

Translated from the French by Scott Bates


(May 23 to 29)

William Cowper; English, 1731-1800

The writer of "The Diverting History of John Gilpin" was a great humanitarian and the author of some of the most moving lines in English against war and slavery. The theme of this fragment from "The Task" was treated earlier in the century by Matthew Prior in an imaginary dialogue between the grammarian Clenard and Charles V. "I tell You," says the former, "that for the good of the Publick you should all have your swords taken from You as if you were actual Lunaticks, and not be suffered to go a Madding with this Rattle of a Globe to play with. . . ."

from THE TASK

Great princes have great playthings. Some have played
At hewing mountains into men, and some
At building human wonders mountain high.
Some have amassed the dull sad years of life
(Life spent in indolence, and therefore sad)
With schemes of monumental fame, and sought
By pyramids and mausolean pomp,
Short-lived themselves, t'immortalize their bones.
Some seek diversion in the tented field
And make the sorrows of mankind their sport.
But war's a game which, were their subjects wise,
Kings should not play at. Nations would do well
T'extort their truncheons from the puny hands
Of heroes, whose infirm and baby minds
Are gratified with mischief, and who spoil,
Because men suffer it, their toy the world.

Book V, 177-192.


12 June: 1963 - Murder of Medgar Evers of Mississippi NAACP


21 June: 1964 - Murder of James Chanet, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner in Philadelphia, Miss.


(July 4 to 10)

Tu Fu; Chinese, 712-770

With his friend Li Po, To Fu was one of the two greatest Chinese poets. A realist, he chose as one of his main themes war's effect on the peasants.

OFFICIAL VISIT TO SHIH HAO VILLAGE

One sunset I came to Shih Hao village and
shortly there followed
an official, seizing conscripts;
in the courtyard of the peasant's home where I stayed
an old man quickly got over the wall and vanished.

To the door came his old wife to greet the official
as best she could;
he, in great anger, swore at her,
but she answered bitterly, and I heard her words:

"I have had three sons taken
to be soldiers at Yeh Cheng
then came a letter saying that two had
been killed and the third never knew
which day he would die.

Now in this hut there is
none but a baby grandson
whose mother still suckles him;
she cannot go out as she has no clothing
to cover her nakedness.

All I can do is to go back with you
to the battle at Hoyang;
there I can cook, even though I am old-
take me, spare them."

Night wore on
the sound of voices died away
until there was left coming from the hut, only
the sobbing of the daughter-in-law;
at dawn I rose and left
with only the old man
to bid me good-bye.

Translated from the Chinese by Rewi Alley


6 August: 1945 - Bombing of Hiroshima


9 August: 1945 - Bombing of Nagasaki


23 August: Execution of Sacco and Vanzetti - 1927


28 August: March on Washington - 1963


15 September: 1963 - Birmingham church bombing and murder of children: Addie Mae Collins, Denice MacNair, Carol Robertson, Cynthia Wesley; Virgil Evers, Johnny Robertson


(September 12 to 18)

Ralph Chaplin; American

Advocate of a labor state, leader in the I.W.W. (International Workers of the World), CHAPLIN was imprisoned for his anti-war stand in World War 1. This poem was written in prison.

MOURN NOT THE DEAD

Mourn not the dead that in the cool earth lie-
Dust unto dust-
The calm, sweet earth that mothers all who die
As all men must;

Mourn not your captive comrades who must dwell-
Too strong to strive-
Each in his steel-bound coffin of a cell,
Buried alive;

But rather mourn the apathetic throng-
The cowed and the meek-
Who see the world's great anguish and its wrong
And dare not speak!


(September 26 to October 2)

Li Po; Chinese, c. 701-762

Estimated by many as China's greatest poet, LI Po led a pleasant existence of wander- ings and debauchery with his poet-companions the Six Idlers of the Bamboo Streams and the Eight Immortals of the Wine Cup. Unlike his realist friend Tu Fu, he wrote few social poems-the following is an exception-and is primarily celebrated for the purity and beauty of his love lyrics. He died by drowning-trying to kiss the moon in the water, they say.

THE NEFARIOUS WAR

Last year we fought by the head-stream of the So-Kan,
This year we are fighting on the Tsung-ho road.
We have washed our armor in the waves of the Chiao-chi lake,
We have pastured our horses on Tien-shan's snowy slopes.
The long, long war goes on ten thousand miles from home.
Our three armies are worn and grown old.

The barbarian does man-slaughter for plowing;
On his yellow sand-plains nothing has been seen but blanched skulls and bones.
Where the Chin emperor built the walls against the Tartars,
There the defenders of Han are burning beacon fires.
The beacon fires burn and never go out.
There is no end to war!-

In the battlefield men grapple each other and die;
The horses of the vanquished utter lamentable cries to heaven,
While ravens and kites peck at human entrails,
Carry them up in their flight, and hang them on the branches of dead trees.
So, men are scattered and smeared over the desert grass,
And the generals have accomplished nothing.

Oh, nefarious war! I see why arms
Were so seldom used by the benign sovereigns.

Translated from the Chinese by Shigeyoshi Obata


(October 3 to 9)

Thomas Hardy; English, 1840-1928

Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, and Isaac Rosenberg are often considered the three major English poets of the First World War. The gradual recognition of THOMAS HARDY as a leading poet has now placed him among their number; although he was 74 when the war began, poems like "Channel Firing" and "There Was a Great Calm" rank high among the most moving and thoughtful poems to come out of the conflict. "The Man He Killed" was written twelve years earlier, in 1902.

THE MAN LIE KILLED

"Had he and I but met
By some old ancient inn,
We should have sat us down to wet
Right many a nipperkin!

"But ranged as infantry,
And staring face to face,
I shot at him as he at me,
And killed him in his place.

"I shot him dead because-
Because he was my foe
Just so: my foe of course he was;
That's clear enough; although

"He thought he'd 'list, perhaps,
Off-hand like-just as I-
Was out of work-had sold his traps-
No other reason why.

"Yes; quaint and curious war is!
You shoot a fellow down
You'd treat if met where any bar is,
Or help to half-a-crown."


(October 10 to 16)

Ye hypocrites! are these your pranks?
To murder men, and give God thanks?
Desist for shame! Proceed no further:
God won't accept your thanks for Murther.

Robert Burns (1759-96) - "On Thanksgiving for a National Victory"


(October 17 to 23)

George Gascoigne; English, 1525?-1577

That "Bellum is Sweete . . . to such as never did it trie" was a theme given popularity in the sixteenth century by Erasmus and picked up by Nashe, Chapman, Clarke, and GASCOIGNE, among others; a modern version might be "War hath no fury like the non- combatant." Having participated in the wars of Holland against the spaniards, been made prisoner, and become an ailing veteran for the rest of his life, GEORGE GASCOIGNE knew whereof he spoke. He was a brilliant poet, essayist, and dramatist, originator of a whole handful of genres in English literature.

from DULCE BELLUM INEXPERTIS

35 My promisse was, and I recorde it so,
To write in verse (God wot though lyttle worth)
That warre seemes sweete to such as little knowe
What commes therby, what frutes it bringeth forth:
Who knowes none evil his minde no bad abhorth,
But such as once have fealt the skortching fire,
Will seldome (efte) to play with flame desire.

36 Then warre is badde: and so it is in deede,
Yet are three sortes which therin take delight,
But who they be now herken and take heede,
For (as I may) I meane their names to wright,
The first hight Maughtie harte, a man of might,
The second Greedy minde most men do call,
And Miser (he the mome) comes last of all. .

40 I set aside to tell the restlesse toyle,
The mangled corps, the lamed limbes at last,
The shortned yeares by fret of fevers foyle,
The smoothest skinne with skabbes and skarres disgrast,
The frolicke favour frounst and foule defast,
The broken sleepes, the dreadfull dreames, the woe,
Which woune with warre and cannot from him goe.

41 I list not write (for it becomes me not)
The secret wrath which God doth kindle oft,
To see the sucklings put unto the pot,
To heare their giltlesse bloode send cries alofte,
And call for vengeance unto him, but softe
The Souldiours they commit those heynous actes,
Yet Kings and Captaynes answere for such factes. .

192 Then whether I be one of Haughty harte,
Or Greedy minde, or Miser in decay,
I sayde and say that for mine owne poore parte,
I may confesse that Bellum every way,
Is Sweete: but how? (beare well my woordes away)
Forsooth, to such as never did it trie,
This is my Theame I cannot chaunge it I.


(October 17 to 23)

William Blake; English, 1757-1827

The Soldier armd with Sword & Gun
Palsied strikes the Summers Sun

wrote BLAKE in "Auguries of Innocence." In "The Gray Monk" he rejects war and revolution as solutions to tyranny.

THE GRAY MONK

I die I die the Mother said
My Children die for lack of Bread
What more has the merciless Tyrant said
The Monk sat down on the Stony Bed

The blood red ran from the Grey Monks side
His hands & feet were wounded wide
His Body bent his arms & knees
Like to the roots of ancient trees

His eye was dry no tear could flow
A hollow groan first spoke his woe
He trembled & shuddered upon the Bed
At length with a feeble cry he said

When God commanded this hand to write
In the studious hours of deep midnight
He told me the writing I wrote should prove
The Bane of all that on Earth I loyd

My Brother starvd between two Walls
His Childrens Cry my Soul appalls
I mockd at the wrack & grinding chain
My bent body mocks their torturing pain

Thy Father drew his sword in the North
With his thousands strong he marched forth
Thy Brother has armd himself in Steel
To avenge the wrongs thy Children feel

But vain the Sword & vain the Bow
They never can work Wars overthrow
The Hermits Prayer & the Widows tear
Alone can free the World from fear

For a Tear is an Intellectual Thing
And a Sigh is the Sword of an Angel King
And the bitter groan of the Martyrs woe
Is an Arrow from the Almighties Bow

The hand of Vengeance found the Bed
To which the Purple Tyrant fled
The iron hand crushd the Tyrants head
And became a Tyrant in his stead


(December 5 to 11)

God lay dead in heaven;
Angels sang the hymn of the end; . . .
But of all sadnsess this was sad -
A woman's arms tried to shield
The head of a sleeping man
From the jaws of the final beast.

Stephen Crane (1895)

. . . There is the sudden blackness, the black pall
Of nothing, nothing, nothing - nothing at all.

Archibald MacLeish, "The End of the World" (1930)


(December 19 to 25)

Robert Lowell; American, 1917-

ROBERT LOWELL went to prison as a conscientious objector in 1943 when he felt that the allies had ceased waging a just war in their bombings of German cities.

CHRISTMAS EVE UNDER HOOKER'S STATUE

Tonight a blackout. Twenty years ago
I hung my stocking on the tree, and hell's
Serpent entwined the apple in the toe
To sting the child with knowledge. Hooker's heels
Kicking at nothing in the shifting snow,
A cannon and a cairn of cannon balls
Rusting before the blackened Statehouse, know
How the long horn of plenty broke like glass
In Hooker's gauntlets. Once I came from Mass;

Now storm-clouds shelter Christmas, once again
Mars meets his fruitless star with open arms,
His heavy saber flashes with the rime,
The war-god's bronzed and empty forehead forms
Anonymous machinery from raw men;
The cannon on the Common cannot stun
The blundering butcher as he rides on Time-
The barrel clinks with holly. I am cold:
I ask for bread, my father gives me mould;

His stocking is full of stones. Santa in red
Is crowned with wizened berries. Man of war,
Where is the summer's garden? In its bed
The ancient speckled serpent will appear,
And black-eyed susan with her frizzled head.
When Chancellorsville mowed down the volunteer,
"All wars are boyish," Herman Melville said;
But we are old, our fields are running wild:
Till Christ again turn wanderer and child.


(December 26 to January 1)

Percy Bysshe Shelley; English, 1792-1822

SHELLEY published Queen Mab soon after his expulsion from Oxford in 1810; it bore on the first page Voltair's motto "Ecrasex l'infame!" ("Crush infamy!"). SHELLEY never retreated from his attitude toward soldiers: in 1820 he wrote, "[The soldier] is more degraded than a murderer; he is like the bloody knife which has stabbed and feels not. . . ."

from QUEEN MAB

War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight,
The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade,
And, to those royal murderers, whose mean thrones
Are bought by crimes of treachery and gore,
The bread they eat, the staff on which they lean.
Guards, garbed in blood-red livery, surround
Their palaces, participate the crimes
That force defends, and from a nation's rage
Secure the crown, which all the curses reach
That famine, frenzy, woe and penury breathe.
These are the hired bravos who defend
The tyrant's throne-the bullies of his fear:
These are the sinks and channels of worst vice,
The refuse of society, the dregs
Of all that is most vile: their cold hearts blend
Deceit with sternness, ignorance with pride,
All that is mean and villanous, with rage
Which hopelessness of good, and self-contempt,
Alone might kindle; they are decked in wealth,
Honour and power, then are sent abroad
To do their work. The pestilence that stalks
In gloomy triumph through some Eastern land
Is less destroying. They cajole with gold,
And promises of fame, the thoughtless youth
Already crushed with servitude: he knows
His wretchedness too Inte, and cherishes
Repentance for his ruin, when his doom
Is sealed in gold and blood!
Those too the tyrant serve, who skilled to snare
The feet of justice in the toils of law,
Stand, ready to oppress the weaker still;
And, right or wrong, will vindicate for gold,
Sneering at public virtue, which beneath
Their pitiless tread lies torn and trampled, where
Honour sits smiling at the sale of truth.

from Book IV.


(January 2 to 8)

Marcel Martinet; French

A pacifist and socialist poet, follower of the great humanitarian and internationalist leader, Jean Jaures. When the latter was assassinated on the eve of World War I and the socialists from the various countries took up arms against each other, MARTINET excoriated them in his powerful "You go to fight":

Those hands you held,
They hold the rifles well,
The lances and the swords,
They work the cannons,
The mortars, the machine guns
Against you;
And you, you, too, you have your machine guns;
You, too, you have your rifles
Against your brothers.

It is not widely known that several million children-more in Germany than else- where-died of starvation during the war. This poem was written in the last years of the struggle.

HEROD

No more milk at our house.
No more milk for the neighbor's girl.
No more milk for us.

And tomorrow no more bread.

Here are the days when the children will watch
Us with their big serious eyes
Eyes too big because they are hungry,
Here are the days
When the children will languish and die.

Nevertheless, nobody has said nevertheless
That this is a war for the children.
This is the war they wage on the war
The children won't have to go to twenty years from now.

Onward! good subjected peoples,
Onward! one more blow for the right.
They say the enemy children
Are already dying of hunger.

No more milk at our house
And tomorrow no more bread.


(January 16 to 22)

Eve Merriam American, 1916-

THE COWARD

You, weeping wide at war, weep with me now.
Cheating a little at peace, come near
And let us cheat together here.

Look at my guilt, mirror of my shame.
Deserter, I will not turn you in;
I am your trembling twin!

Afraid, our double knees lock in knocking fear;
Running from the guns we stumble upon each other.
Hide in my lap of terror: I am your mother.

- Only we two, and yet our howling can
Encircle the world's end.
Frightened, you are my only friend.

And frightened, we are everyone.
Someone must make a stand.
Coward, take my coward's hand.


Periodicals

in addition to

LIBERATION Magazine 5 Beehman Street, New York 38, N. Y.
an independent monthly recommended by the War Resisters League

the following periodicals make a significant contribution to peace and independent thought:

Africa Today, 211 East 43rd Street, New York 17, N. Y.

Anarchy, 17a Maxwell Road, London S.W. 6, England

Catholic Worker, 175 Chrystie Street, New York 2, N. Y.

The Correspondent, William James Hall 28, Harvard University Cambridge 38, Mass.

Dissent, 509 Fifth Avenue, New York 17, N. Y.

Fellowship, Box 271, Nyack, New York I. F. Stone's Weekly 5618 Nebraska Avenue, N.W., Washington 15, D. C.

Manas, Box 32112, El Sereno Station, Los Angeles 32, Calif.

Nation, 333 Sixth Avenue, New York 14, N. Y.

New America, 1182 Broadway, New York 1, N. Y.

New Politics, 507 Fifth Avenue, New York 17, N. Y.

Our Generation Against War, 3510 Rue Ste. Famille, Montreal 18, Quebec, Canada

Peace News, 5 Caledonian Road, London N. 1, England (North American office: 160 N. 15th Street, Philadelphia 2, Pa.)

Peacemaker, 10208 Sylvan Avenue, Cincinnati 41, Ohio

Progressive, 408 West Gorham Street, Madison 3, Wisc.

Studies On The Left, Box 33, New York 24, N. Y.

War Resistance, 88 Park Avenue, Enfield, Middlesex, England


Organizations

in addition to the

WAR RESISTERS LEAGUE, 5 Beehman Street, New York 38, N. Y.

the following national organizations oppose war and work for nonviolent alternatives:

American Friends Service Committee, 160 North 15th Street Philadelphia 2, Pa.

Brethren Service Commission, 1451 Dundee Avenue, Elgin, Ill.

Catholic Peace Fellowship, 5 Beehman Street, New York 38, N. Y.

Catholic Worker, 175 Chrystie Street, New York 2, N. Y.

Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors, 2006 Walnut Street Philadelphia 3, Pa.

Committee for Nonviolent Action, 5 Beehman Street, New York 38, N. Y.

Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy, 17 East 45 Street, New York 17, N. Y.

Fellowship of Reconciliation, Box 271, Nyack, New York

Friends Committee on National Legislation, 245 Second Street, N.E. Washington 2, D. C.

Jewish Peace Fellowship, 43 West 57th Street, New York 19, N. Y.

Mennonite Central Committee, Akron, Pa.

National Service Board for Religious Objectors, Washington Building 15th and New York Avenue, N.W. Washington 5, D. C.

Peacemakers, 10208 Sylvan Avenue, Cincinnati 41, Ohio

Society for Social Responsibility in Scince, Gambier, Ohio Student Peace Union 5 Beekman Street, New York 38, N. Y.

Students for a Democratic Society, 1103 East 63rd Street, Chicago 37, Ill.

Turn Toward Peace, 218 East 18th Street, New York 3, N. Y.

Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, 2006 Walnut Street Philadelphia 3, Pa.

Women Strike for Peace, 2016 P. Street N.W., Washington 36, D. C.

Calendar cover


[Baltasar Gracian's (1601-1658) The Art of Worldly Wisdom]
[Beard: An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States]

[Back to Lachlan's Homepage] | [What's New at Lachlan's Homepage] | [Historial things, Literature and Poetry] | [Literature]

(This Webpage Page in No Frames Mode)

If you are feeling sociable, my new E-mail address is [address now invalid] (replace the *at* with an @ ) . Old E-mail addresses might be giving forwarding or reliability problems. Please use clear titles in any Email - otherwise messages might accidentally get put in the SPAM list due to large amount of junk Email being received. So, if you don't get an expected reply to any messages, please try again.