John Davidson

Here you will find the Poem War Song of poet John Davidson

War Song

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.