Poetic responses to war

While the chaos, mayhem, and destruction of war may not immediately seem a promising topic of poetry, nevertheless, writers from Homer to Wilfred Owen to today have written compellingly about the subject.  We'll post some poems here, as the occasion fits.  Let us know if there's a poem in the public domain that you'd like to contribute.    Click here to return to the Veterans home page

Decoration Day: A Poem  (on the occasion of Memorial Day, 2024)
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Sleep, comrades, sleep and rest
On this Field of Grounded Arms,
Where foes no more molest,
Nor sentry’s shot alarms!

Ye have slept on the ground before,
And started to your feet
At the cannon’s sudden roar,
Or the drum’s redoubling beat.

But in this camp of Death
No sound your slumber breaks;
Here is no fevered breath,
No wound that bleeds and aches.

All is repose and peace,
Untrampled lies the sod;
The shouts of battle cease,
It is the Truce of God!

Rest, comrades, rest and sleep!
The thoughts of men shall be
As sentinels to keep
Your rest from danger free.

Your silent tents of green
We deck with fragrant flowers
Yours has the suffering been,
The memory shall be ours.

From The June, 1882 issue of The Atlantic magazine