Texts from Three Pacifist Songs by Leland Smith, composed between 1951 and 1961.

 

I. Ex-Service (Siegfried Sassoon - British poet of the first World War)

 

Derision from the dead

   Mocks armamental madness.

Redeem -- (each Ruler said) -- Mankind.

   Men died to do it.

 

And some with glorying gladness

   Bore arms for earth and bled:

But most went glumly through it

   Dumbly doomed to rue it.

 

The darkness of their dying

   Grows one with war recorded

Whose swindled ghosts are crying

   From shell holes in the past,

 

Our deeds with lies were lauded,

   Our bones with wrongs rewarded.

Dream voices, Dream voices these -- denying

   Dud laurels to the last.

 

 

II. Diary Fragments as quoted by Virginia Woolf (Wilfred Owen - British poet killed in the first World War)

 

Already I have comprehended a light which never will filter into the dogma of any national church:

   namely, that one of Christ's essential commands was:

   Passivity at any price!

      suffer dishonour and disgrace, but never resort to arms.  

      Be bullied, be outraged, be killed; but do not kill.

   Thus you see how pure Christianity will not fit in with pure Patriotism.

 

The unnaturalness of weapons...

   Inhumanity of war...

   The insupportability of war...

   Horrible beastliness of war...

   Foolishness of war...

 

 

III. Rearmament (Robinson Jeffers - California poet in the 1930's)

 

These grand and fatal movements toward death:

   the grandeur of the mass

Makes pity a fool,

   the tearing pity

For the atoms of the mass,

   the persons, the victims, makes it seem monstrous

To admire the tragic beauty they build.

 

It is beautiful as a river flowing

   or a slowly gathering

Glacier on a high mountain rockface,

   Bound to plow down a forest,

or as frost in November,

   The gold and flaming deathdance for leaves,

Or a girl in the night of her spent maidenhood,

   bleeding and kissing.

 

I would burn my right hand in a slow fire

   To change the future...

   I should do foolishly,

 

The beauty of modern Man

   is not in the persons

   but in the Disastrous rhythm,

the heavy and mobile masses, the dance of the

   Dreamled masses down the dark mountain.