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135 Quotes about War + 8 Poems

In the past, thousands and thousands of wars have been fought in the course of human history. And even today, in the 21st century, the topic is more relevant than ever. That’s why we present you with aphorisms and quotes about war that will make you think.

The most inhumane wars in history were the First and Second World Wars. While in the First World War more than 17 million people lost their lives, in the Second World War it was an unimaginable 70 million. However, this was not the beginning – wars have been fought since the existence of mankind.

Quotes about War and Battle

Quotes about War and Battle

There is hardly a time in human history when wars have not been fought. Although it is not in mankind’s nature to go to war, we still experience serious conflicts all over the world even today.

The sayings and quotes in this chapter gives you an idea on how terrible war really is. They are meant to show you the senselessness, destruction, and horror that wars brings along with them.

Here you’ll find quotes about peace.

Quotes on Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War”

Quotes on Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War”

Sun Tzu lived during the Eastern Zhou period and was mainly a military general and strategist in China. He was also an avid writer and showed a strong interest in philosophy.

He was a well known military and legendary historical figure, and revolutionized the strategy of war, having a particular influence on samurai warfare.

His work “The Art of War” is basically a guide on how to handle battle and conflict, which still finds its relevance in today’s worlds, and is particularly helpful for people in leadership positions.

He focuses on using strategies to win battles that would require fighting, but to rather use strategies to avoid battles where possible. We have compiled 23 of Sun Tzu’s most insightful and adapted aphorisms from “The Art of War” for you below.

  1. Appear weak when you are strong.
  2. All warfare is based on deception.
  3. There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare.
  4. In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy’s country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good.
  5. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear when you are not expected.
  6. The skillful fighter puts himself into a position which makes defeat impossible, and does not miss the moment for defeating an enemy.
  7. If the enemy leaves a door open, you must rush in.
  8. If you know the enemy and know yourself, your victory will not stand in doubt.
  9. The quality of decision is like the well-timed swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and destroy its victim.
  10. Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances.
  11. Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look upon them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death.
  12. Hold out baits to entice the enemy. Feign disorder, and crush him.
  13. Let your rapidity be that of the wind, your compactness that of the forest.
  14. Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.
  15. If it is to your advantage, make a forward move; if not, stay where you are.
  16. Rewards for good service should not be deferred a single day.
  17. Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby, you can be the director of the opponent’s fate.
  18. The wise warrior avoids the battle.
  19. Ponder and deliberate before you make a move.
  20. The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.
  21. In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.
  22. Move swift as the Wind and closely-formed as the Wood. Attack like the Fire and be still as the Mountain.
  23. It is easy to love your friend, but sometimes the hardest lesson to learn is to love your enemy.

Quotes about the Civil War

Quotes about the Civil War

The American Civil War lasted from 1861 until 1865 and was fought between the Confederate States of America (eleven southern states which left the Union between 1860 and 1861) and the United States of America.

These parties had disagreements for over 80 years which mainly concerned cultural issues, economic policies and especially the humanitarian issue of slavery.

When Abraham Lincoln was elected as President of the United States in 1860, 11 southern states seceded and wanted to be regarded as their own independent nation.

Abraham Lincolns main aim was to keep the United States unified, and he refused to regard the southern states as their own nation, and so the Civil war started in the springtime of 1861.

Lincoln issued the “Emancipation Proclamation” freeing slaves in areas in rebellion at that time with the United States. After four long years of conflict, in April 1865, the Confederates surrendered to the United States.

The Civil War left the South bankrupt and in ruins, and a total of 620,000 men lost their lives, which is more than any other conflict in America’s history.

At the end of the war, so-called “Civil War Amendments” were added, which abolished slavery, promised “equal protection under the law” and granted black men voting rights.

Below, we have collected some insightful and thought invoking aphorisms about the devastation of the American Civil War, as well as the freedom it brought to slaves all across the country.

  1. I believe this Government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.
    (Abraham Lincoln, American president, 1809-1865)
  2. War means fighting, and fighting means killing.
    (Nathan Bedford Forrest, Confederate Army general, 1821-1877)
  3. If there is a worse place than Hell, I am in it.
    (Abraham Lincoln)
  4. If I owned Texas and Hell, I would rent out Texas and live in Hell.
    (General Philip Henry Sheridan, United States Army officer, 1831-1888)
  5. Labor in the white skin can never free itself as long as labor in the black skin is branded.
    (Karl Marx, German philosopher and theorist, 1818-1883)
  6. poor boy! I never knew you, Yet I think I could not refuse this moment to die for you, if that would save you.
    (Walt Whitman, American poet, 1819-1892)
  7. I would rather be assassinated than see a single star removed from the American flag.
    (Abraham Lincoln)
  8. You people speak so lightly of war; you don’t know what you’re talking about. War is a terrible thing.
    (William T. Sherman, US officer, 1820-1891)
  9. America has no north, no south, no east, no west. The sun rises over the hills and sets over the mountains, the compass just points up and down, and we can laugh now at the absurd notion of there being a north and a south. We are one and undivided.
    (Samuel R. Watkins, American writer and humorist, 1839-1901)
  10. Nations, like individuals, are punished for their transgressions.
    (Ulysses S. Grant, American president, 1822-1885)
  11. Mr. Blair, I look upon secession as anarchy. If I owned the four millions of slaves in the South, I would sacrifice them all to the Union; but how can I draw my sword upon Virginia, my native State.
    (Robert E. Lee, American general, 1807-1870)
  12. I was always a friend of southern rights, but an enemy of southern wrongs.
    (Benjamin Butler, American lawyer and politician, 1818-1893)
  13. I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than the dissolution of the Union. It would be an accumulation of all the evils we complain of, and I am willing to sacrifice everything but honor for its preservation.
    (Robert E. Lee)
  14. Not by the forces of civil war can you govern the very weakest woman. You can kill that woman, but she escapes you then; you cannot govern her. No power on earth can govern a human being, however feeble, who withholds his or her consent.
    (Emmeline Pankhurst, British suffragette, 1858-1928)
  15. Democracy means simply the bludgeoning of the people by the people for the people.
    (Oscar Wilde, Irish poet, 1854-1900)
  16. We all declare for liberty, but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing.
    (Abraham Lincoln, American president, 1809-1865)
  17. You people of the South don’t know what you are doing. This country will be drenched in blood, and God only knows how it will end.
    (William T. Sherman, US officer, 1820-1891)
  18. It is always good men who do the most harm in the world.
    (Henry Adams, American historian, 1838-1918)
  19. I am quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood. I had, as I now think vainly, flattered myself that without very much bloodshed it might be done.
    (John Brown, American abolitionist leader, 1800-1859)

Quotes on WW2

Quotes on WW2

World War II started when Hitler invaded Poland in 1939, which resulted in France and Great Britain declaring war on Germany. It was not on the deadliest and biggest war in history, but also involved over 30 countries. The conflict lasted between 1939 and 1945 and all major countries were partaking.

It also marks the most significant and influential war of the twentieth century, and sparked the dawn of the nuclear age. A total of 3 percent of the world population lost their lives, which equates to a whopping 70 to 85 million people.

The deadliest battle was that of Stalingrad, which cost a staggering 633,000 lives alone.

The USA also experienced a devastating surprise attack by Japan, using Kamikaze fighters to destroy the U.S. naval base in Pearl Harbor, near Honolulu.

They damaged and destroyed 20 naval vessels, including a number of battleships, as well as more than 300 airplanes. Over 100 people were wounded and 2,400 people lost their lives in the attack.

Below you will a number of deep and also touching quotes, as well as aphorisms of the cruelty of WW II, which are bound to make you think about not only WW II, but also the concept of war itself.

  1. The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.
    (Franklin D. Roosevelt, American president, 1882-1945)
  2. If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn’t thinking.
    (George S. Patton, American officer, 1885-1945)
  3. The enemy win their battles from the air! They knock my panzers with American armor-piercing shells.
    (Erwin Rommel, German field marshal, 1891-1944)
  4. Thinking about the suffering of those you hold dear can reduce you to tears.
    (Anne Frank, German-jewish writer, 1929-1945)
  5. This war is no ordinary war. It is the war of the entire Russian people. Not only to eliminate the danger hanging over our heads, but to aid all people groaning under the yoke of Fascism.
    (Joseph Stalin, Soviet politician, 1878-1953)
  6. We are now in this war. We are all in it, all the way.
    (Franklin D. Roosevelt)
  7. Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men.
    (George S. Patton, American officer, 1885-1945)
  8. To die for the Emperor is to live forever.
    (Japanese Army Slogan)
  9. Where they burn books, they also burn people.
    (Heinrich Heine, German poet, 1797-1856)
  10. Americans love to fight, traditionally. All real Americans love the sting and clash of battle.
    (George S. Patton)
  11. Czechs are laughing beasts.
    (Reinhard Heydrich, German SS-general)
  12. After all, a person has only two hands, and these days there’re too many patients and too few doctors.
    (Anne Frank, German-jewish writer, 1929-1945)
  13. We could do with some of those razor blades, Herr Reichsmarshall.
    (Erwin Rommel, German field marshal, 1891-1944)
  14. The Mediterranean will be turned into an Italian lake.
    (Benito Mussolini, Italian dictator, 1883-1945)
  15. The Red Army and Navy and the whole Soviet people must fight for every inch of Soviet soil, fight to the last drop of blood for our towns and villages… onwards to victory!
    (Joseph Stalin, Soviet politician, 1878-1953)
  16. The hand that held the dagger has struck it into the back of it’s neighbor.
    (Franklin D. Roosevelt, American president, 1882-1945)
  17. Sure, we want to go home. We want this war over with. The quickest way to get it over with is to go get the bastards who started it.
    (George S. Patton, American officer, 1885-1945)
  18. We shall go down in history as the greatest statesmen of all time, or as the greatest criminals.
    (Joseph Goebbels, German nazi politician, 1897-1945)

Top 12 Quotes about War and Battle to Think about

Top 12 Quotes about War and Battle to Think about

There is hardly a time in human history when no wars have been fought.

Although it is not in man’s nature to go to war, we still experience serious conflict and warfare even today. Take the current events in the Ukraine and Taiwan as an example; especially Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has left devastating effects on the country already.

The sayings and quotes in this chapter show you how terrible war is. They are meant to make you realize the senselessness and horror that fighting brings.

Even Gandhi said that “history teaches men that history teaches men nothing”.

This statement underlines quite well that as long as the interests of a state or even individuals are put above the welfare of a people, war, and military combat will continue to be a sad reality. Here are our top 12 sayings about war and fighting to think about.

  1. When the war was over, the soldier came home. But he had no bread. Then he saw someone who had bread. He beat him to death. You can’t beat someone to death, said the judge. Why not, the soldier asked.
    (Wolfgang Borchert, German writer, 1921-1947)
  2. It was slaughter, not to be called a battle.
    (Friedrich von Schiller, German playwright, 1759-1805)
  3. Chagrined by the sentiment of the greater part of my compatriots, a sentiment incomprehensible to me,–of shame at being Jews.
    (Józef Ignacy Kraszewski, Polish writer, 1812-1887)
  4. Suffer, alas, at all times the little man must, when it is the great that quarrel.
    (Jean de La Fontaine, French writer, 1621-1695)
  5. Such a battle
    Is terrible, when one must say to oneself:
    It is fought for you! Every shot
    Hits you in the heart, you fall with every dead,
    And writhes with every dying one!
    (Christian Friedrich Hebbel, German playwright, 1813-1863)
  6. And so the bloody seed grew into a bloody harvest.
    (Adelbert von Chamisso, German naturalist, 1781-1838)
  7. War is in truth a disease in which the juices that serve health and maintenance are used for the sole purpose of nourishing something foreign, something at odds with nature.
    (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German poet, 1749-1832)
  8. All is mine on earth, said gold.
    All is mine, said iron cold.
    I will buy it all, said gold.
    I will take, said iron cold.
    (Alexander Sergeyevich Pushkin, Russian poet, 1799-1837)
  9. War will disappear only when men shall take no part whatever in violence and shall be ready to suffer every persecution that their abstention will bring them. It is the only way to abolish war.
    (Anatole France, French writer and critic, 1844-1924)
  10. War never takes a wicked man by chance, the good man always.
    (Sophocles, Greek poet, ca. 497-406 B.C.)
  11. In time of war, the loudest patriots are the greatest profiteers.
    (August Bebel, German politician, 1840-1913)
  12. Politicians to the front, then there will be no more war.
    (German proverb)

Here you’ll find more smart quotes to think about.

More Quotes and Sayings about War to Think about

More Quotes and Sayings about War to Think about

In this section, we have compiled further, meaningful and profound aphorisms and sayings about war. Keeping current global events in mind, the subject has not been more relevant since WWII. Just watching the news today can be a pretty scary affair.

You can read through this collection of quotes by yourself, or share them with friends and family. To make an impact on others also, you can post them in your status on social networks to show your acquaintances the futility of war and express your political opinion.

  1. What you win by force, you can only keep by force
    (Mahatma Gandhi, Indian ascetic, 1869-1948)
  2. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.
    (James Madison, 4th President of the United States, 1751-1836)
  3. There was never a good war, or a bad peace.
    (Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father of the United States, 1706-1790)
  4. The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home.
    (James Madison, 4th President of the United States, 1751-1836)
  5. The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.
    (George Orwell, English writer, 1903-1950)
  6. No protracted war can fail to endanger the freedom of a democratic country.
    (Alexis de Tocqueville, French publicist, 1805-1859)
  7. War is an instrument entirely inefficient toward redressing wrong; and multiplies, instead of indemnifying losses.
    (Thomas Jefferson, Founding Father of the United States, 1743-1826)
  8. In all history there is no war which was not hatched by the governments, the governments alone, independent of the interests of the people, to whom war is always pernicious even when successful.
    (Leo Tolstoy, Russian writer, 1828-1910)
  9. War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it.
    (George Orwell, English writer, 1903-1950)
  10. To robbery, slaughter, plunder, they give the lying name of empire; they make a solitude and call it peace.
    (Calgacus, Caledonian army commander, ca. end of 1st century B.C.)
  11. War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it.
    (William T. Sherman, U.S. officer, 1820-1891)
  12. Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.
    (Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father of the United States, 1706-1790)

Famous Quotes about War and Peace

Famous Quotes about War and Peace

In this paragraph, we have collected famous sayings about war and its various aspects. Especially focusing on the point, how useless cruel and bloody war can be and how peace between nations carries so much more advantages.

If someone around you is in favor of war, you can express your opinion with the quotes of famous thinkers.

You can also share them on IG or as a caption, WhatsApp status on social media, to motivate others to also really think about the currently very real threat of war happening across the globe.

  1. You summon us, we follow. You order us to be free and so we will be.
    (Pliny the Younger, Roman senator, 61-ca. 113 A.D.)
  2. Only the dead have seen the end of war.
    (Plato, Greek philosopher, 428-348 B.C.)
  3. Every war is a defeat. For war destroys life.
  4. An unjust peace is better than a just war.
    (Cicero, Roman politician, 106-43 B.C.)
  5. Lies can set wars in motion, but truths can stop whole armies.
    (Otto von Bismarck, German politician, 1815-1898)
  6. He who preaches war is the devil’s field advocate.
  7. The real and lasting victories are those of peace, and not of war.
    (Ralph Waldo Emerson, American essayist, 1803-1882)
  8. We make war that we may live in peace.
    (Aristotle, Greek philosopher, 384-322 B.C.)
  9. There is no sure foundation set on blood, No certain life achieved by others' death.
    (William Shakespeare, English playwright, 1564-1616)
  10. Every war, when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac.
    (George Orwell, English novelist, 1903-1950)
  11. Kill one man, and you are a murderer. Kill millions of men, and you are a conqueror.
  12. During times of war, justice is silent.
  13. In peace the sons bury their fathers, but in war the fathers bury their sons.
    (Croesus, King of Lydia, ca. 590-541 B.C.)
  14. When war begins the devil makes hell bigger.
  15. An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.
    (Mahatma Gandhi, Indian ascetic, 1869-1948)
  16. Religious wars are basically people killing each other over who has the better imaginary friend.
    (Napoleon I Bonaparte, French General, 1769-1821)

More Quotes about and against War

More Quotes about and against War

Many great figures such as Shakespeare and Schopenhauer have dealt with war and thus blessed us with quotes that should make us reflect. Most have experienced the gruesome reality of war themselves, and we can learn from them.

They are perfect for sharing via a quick WhatsApp or text to friends and family, who feel the same way as you. Below you will find our compilation of 21 additional quotes about war. These aphorisms are sure to get you thinking about the subject.

  1. God created war so that Americans would learn geography.
    (Mark Twain, US writer, 1835-1910)
  2. The stronger we are, the less likely war is.
    (Otto von Bismarck, German politician, 1815-1898)
  3. War is nothing more than the continuation of politics by other means.
    (Carl von Clausewitz, Prussian Major General, 1780-1831)
  4. People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war, or before an election.
    (Otto von Bismarck)
  5. To secure peace is to prepare for war.
    (Carl von Clausewitz)
  6. Only in time of fear is government thrown back to its primitive and sole function of self defense and the many interests of which it is the guardian to become subordinate to that.
    (Jane Addams, American settlement activist, 1860-1935)
  7. It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.
    (Voltaire, French philosopher, 1694-1778)
  8. War again! The wise man hates it when it comes.
    (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, German poet, 1749-1832)
  9. There are few die well that die in a battle.
    (William Shakespeare, English playwright, 1564-1616)
  10. Men show no mercy and expect no mercy, when honor calls, or when they fight for their idols or their gods.
    (Friedrich von Schiller, German playwright, 1759-1805)
  11. War makes thieves, and peace hangs them.
    (Scottish Proverb)
  12. The fruits of Christianity were religious wars, butcheries, crusades, inquisitions, extermination of the natives of America, and the introduction of African slaves in their place.
    (Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher, 1788-1860)
  13. To call war the soil of courage and virtue is like calling debauchery the soil of love.
    (German Proverb)
  14. Eternal peace lasts until the next war.
    (Russian Proverb)
  15. All wars are nothing but raids.
    (Voltaire, French philosopher, 1694-1778)
  16. War is the greatest of all crimes; and yet there is no aggressor who does not color his crime with the pretext of justice.
  17. Better dry bread in peacetime than meat in wartime.
    (Hungarian Proverb)
  18. Men appear to prefer ruining one another’s fortunes, and cutting each other’s throats about a few paltry villages, to extending the grand means of human happiness.
  19. War is mischief upon the largest scale.
    (Jeremy Bentham, English jurist, 1748-1832)
  20. War is always a prison.
    (Rainer Maria Rilke, Austrian poet, 1875-1926)
  21. The fool makes war.
    (Claus Schenk von Stauffenberg, German officer, 1907-1944)

Anti War Quotes about Peace in the World

Anti War Quotes about Peace in the World

While war stands for destruction, peace, as the absolute opposite, is inseparable from development. To provide for peace means to create justice in the world.

But greed often prevails, and along with wars comes corruption, bloodshed, unnecessary loss of life and the destruction of an economy. The following sayings illustrate this once again.

  1. Peace is not an absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice.
    (Baruch de Spinoza, Dutch philosopher, 1632-1677)
  2. There is no 'way to peace,' there is only 'peace.
    (Mahatma Gandhi, Indian revolutionary, 1869-1948)
  3. It is not enough to win a war; it is more important to organize the peace.
    (Aristotle, Greek polymath, 384 B.C.-322 B.C.)
  4. Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all.
    (George Washington, 1st President of the United States, 1732-1799)
  5. I appeal for cessation of hostilities, not because you are too exhausted to fight, but because war is bad in essence.
    (Mahatma Gandhi)
  6. Peace is the virtue of civilization. War is its crime.
    (Victor Hugo, French writer, 1802-1885)
  7. You can have peace only if you give it.
    (Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach, Moravian-Austrian writer, 1830-1916)
  8. Peace in the heart brings peace to the world.
    (Theodor Toeche-Mittler, German historian, 1837-1919)
  9. When they are preparing for war, those who rule by force speak most copiously about peace until they have completed the mobilization process.
    (Stefan Zweig, Austrian writer, 1881-1942)
  10. Only in times of peace can the flowers of culture flourish.
    (Eleftherios Venizelos, Greek politician, 1864-1936)
  11. We want peace and bread.
    (Erich Mühsam, German writer, 1878-1934)
  12. It is the teacher’s task to lead the child to love peace and its works and to detest war.
    (Anatole France, French writer and critic, 1844-1924)
  13. A defeat borne with pride is also a victory.
    (Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach, Moravian-Austrian writer, 1830-1916)

Poems about the War

Poems about the War

Especially in the 20th century, more and more poets have dealt with war. Whilst people strive for peace, governments don’t necessarily agree with this sentiment, as war could turn out in their favor and give them access to countries natural resources.

The following poems underscore the horrors of war. They give you an insight to what it is like to be, and perish in battle.


In Flanders Field

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place, and in the sky,
The larks, still bravely singing, fly,
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead; short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

(John McCrae)


Marching Men

Under the level winter sky
I saw a thousand Christs go by.
They sang an idle song and free
As they went up to calvary.

Careless of eye and coarse of lip,
They marched in holiest fellowship.
That heaven might heal the world, they gave
Their earth-born dreams to deck the grave.

With souls unpurged and steadfast breath
They supped the sacrament of death.
And for each one, far off, apart,
Seven swords have rent a woman’s heart.

(Marjorie Pickthall)


Here Dead We Lie

Here Dead We Lie

Here dead we lie because we did not choose
To live and shame the land from which we sprung.
Life, to be sure, is nothing much to lose,
But young men think it is, and we were young.

(A. E. Housman)


To His Love

He’s gone, and all our plans
Are useless indeed.
We’ll walk no more on Cotswolds
Where the sheep feed
Quietly and take no heed.

His body that was so quick
Is not as you
Knew it, on Severn River
Under the blue
Driving our small boat through.

You would not know him now…
But still he died
Nobly, so cover him over
With violets of pride
Purple from Severn side.

Cover him, cover him soon!
And with thick-set
Masses of memoried flowers-
Hide that red wet
Thing I must somehow forget.

(Ivor Gurney)


My Boy Jack

“Have you news of my boy Jack?”
Not this tide.
“When d’you think that he’ll come back?”
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Has any one else had word of him?”
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?”
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he did not shame his kind —
Not even with that wind blowing, and that tide.

Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide;
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!

(Rudyard Kipling)


A Dead Boche

A Dead Boche

To you who’d read my songs of War
And only hear of blood and fame,
I’ll say (you’ve heard it said before)
”War’s Hell!” and if you doubt the same,
Today I found in Mametz Wood
A certain cure for lust of blood:

Where, propped against a shattered trunk,
In a great mess of things unclean,
Sat a dead Boche; he scowled and stunk
With clothes and face a sodden green,
Big-bellied, spectacled, crop-haired,
Dribbling black blood from nose and beard.

(Robert Graves)


Break of Day in the Trenches

The darkness crumbles away.
It is the same old druid Time as ever,
Only a live thing leaps my hand,
A queer sardonic rat,
As I pull the parapet’s poppy
To stick behind my ear.
Droll rat, they would shoot you if they knew
Your cosmopolitan sympathies.
Now you have touched this English hand
You will do the same to a German
Soon, no doubt, if it be your pleasure
To cross the sleeping green between.
It seems you inwardly grin as you pass
Strong eyes, fine limbs, haughty athletes,
Less chanced than you for life,
Bonds to the whims of murder,
Sprawled in the bowels of the earth,
The torn fields of France.
What do you see in our eyes
At the shrieking iron and flame
Hurled through still heavens?
What quaver — what heart aghast?
Poppies whose roots are in man’s veins
Drop, and are ever dropping;
But mine in my ear is safe —
Just a little white with the dust.

(Isaac Rosenberg)


The Man He 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.

(Thomas Hardy)

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