War

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by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

I

There is no picturesqueness and no glory,
   No halo of romance, in war to-day.
   It is a hideous thing; Time would turn grey
With horror, were he not already hoary
At sight of this vile monster, foul and gory.
   Yet while sweet women perish as they pray,
   And new-born babes are slaughtered, who dare say
'Halt!' till Right pens its 'Finis' to the story!
There is no pathway, but the path through blood,
   Out of the horrors of this holocaust.
Hell has let loose its scalding crimson flood,
   And he who stops to argue now is lost.
Not brooms of creeds, not Pacifistic words
Can stem the tide, but swords--uplifted swords!

II

Yet, after Peace has turned the clean white page
   There shall be sorrow on the earth for years;
   Abysmal grief, that has no eyes for tears,
And youth that hobbles through the earth like age.
But better to play this part upon life's stage
   Than to aid structures that a tyrant rears,
   To live a stalwart hireling torn with fears,
And shamed by feeding on a conqueror s wage.
Death, yea, a thousand deaths, were sweet in truth
   Rather than such ignoble life. God gave
Being, and breath, and high resolve to youth
   That it might be Wrong's master, not its slave.
Our road to Freedom is the road to guns!
Go, arm your sons! I say, Go, arm your sons!

III

Arm! arm! that mandate on each wind is whirled.
   Let no man hesitate or look askance,
   For from the devastated homes of France
And ruined Belgium the cry is hurled.
Why, Christ Himself would keep peace banners furled
   Were He among us, till, with lifted lance,
   He saw the hosts of Righteousness advance
To purify the Temples of the world.
There is no safety on the earth to-day
   For any sacred thing, or clean, or fair;
Nor can there be, until men rise and slay
   The hydra-headed monster in his lair.
War! horrid War! now Virtue's only friend;
Clasp hands with War, and battle to the end!

from Hello, Boys! by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1919)

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