It was their luck to be born into
a strange time.
The planet had been parceled out among various countries,
one provided with loyalties, cherished
memories, with a past
undoubtedly heroic, with rights, with wrongs,
with a particular
mythology, with bronze forefathers, with anniversaries,
demagogues and symbols.
This arbitrary division was favorable
Lopez was born in the city beside
the tawny river; Ward, on the
outskirts of the city where Father
Brown walked. He had
studied Spanish in order to read Quijote.
The other one professed a love for
Conrad, who had been revealed
to him in a classroom on Viamonte
They might have been friends, but
they saw each other face to
face only once, on some overly
famous islands, and each one of
them was Cain, and each was Abel.
They were buried together. Snow and
corruption know them.
The incident I mention occurred in a time that we
by Jorge Luis Borges
your tank is a powerful vehicle.
It smashes down forests and crushes men.
But it has one defect:
It needs a driver.
General, your bomber is
It flies faster than a storm and carries more than
an elephant. But it has one defect:
It needs a mechanic.
General, man is very useful.
He can fly and he can kill.
But he has one defect:
He can think.
by Bertolt Brecht
They speak of the art of
but the arts
draw their light from the soul’s well,
dries up the soul and draws its power
from a dark and burning wasteland.
set his genius to devising
machines of destruction he was not
acting in the service of art,
he was suspending
the life of art
over an abyss,
as if one were to hold
a living child out of an airplane window
at thirty thousand feet.
by Denise Levertov
I was just turned twenty-one,
And Henry Phipps, the Sunday-school superintendent,
Made a speech in Bindle's Opera House.
"The honor of the flag must by upheld," he
"Whether it be assailed by a barbarous tribe
Or the greatest power in Europe."
And we cheered and cheered the speech and the flag
he waved As he spoke.
And I went to the war in spite of my father,
And followed the flag till I saw it raised
By our camp in a rice field near Manila,
And all of us cheered and cheered it.
But there were flies and poisonous things;
And there was deadly water,
And the cruel heat,
And the sickening, putrid food;
And the smell of the trench just back of the
Where the soldiers went to empty themselves;
And there were the whores who followed us,
full of syphilis;
And beastly acts between ourselves or alone,
With bullying, hatred, degredation among us,
And days of loathing and nights of fear
To the hour of the charge through the steaming
Following the flag,
Till I fell with a scream, shot through the
Now there's a flag over me in Spoon River!
A flag! A flag!
by Edgar Lee Masters
Dulce et Decorum Est
Bent double, like old
beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!-An
ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before
my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering
dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,-
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
by Wilfred Owen
Speaking: The Hero
I did not want to go.
They inducted me.
I did not want to die.
They called me yellow.
I tried to run away.
They courtmartialed me.
I did not shoot.
They said I had no guts.
I cried in pain.
They carried me to safety.
In safety I died.
They blew taps over me.
They crossed out my name
And buried me under a cross.
They made a speech in my home
I was unable to call them liars.
They said I gave my life.
I had struggled to keep it.
They said I set an example
I had tried to run.
They said they were proud of
I had been ashamed of them.
They said my mother should be
My mother cried.
I wanted to live.
They called me a coward.
I died a coward.
They called me a hero.
by Felix Pollak
is the field where the battle did not happen,
where the unknown soldier did not die.
This is the field where grass joined hands,
where no monument stands,
and the only heroic thing is the sky.
Birds fly here without
unfolding their wings across the open.
No people killed – or were killed –
on this ground
hollowed by the neglect of an air so tame
that people celebrate it by forgetting its
by William Stafford
Give Back Peace
father, give back mother,
Give back grandpa, give back grandma,
Give back boys, give back girls.
Give me back
myself, give me back men
Linked to me.
As long as
men live as men,
Give back peace,
Peace that never crumbles.