Martyrs of peace

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by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Fame writes ever its song and story,
For heroes of war, in letters of glory.

But where is the story and where is the song
For the heroes of peace and the martyrs of wrong?

They fight their battles in shop and mine;
They die at their posts and make no sign.

They herd like beasts in a slaughter pen;
They live like cattle and suffer like men.

Why, set by the horrors of such a life,
Like a merry-go-round seems the battle’s strife,

And the open sea, and the open boat,
And the deadly cannon with bellowing throat.

Oh, what are they all, with death thrown in,
To the life that has nothing to lose or win -

The life that has nothing to hope or gain
But ill-paid labour and beds of pain?

Fame, where is your story and where is your song
For the martyrs of peace and the victims of wrong?

from Poems of Optimism by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1919)

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