War and Peace

This is a poem that I wrote a few months ago. I was inspired by a conversation that I had with a close friend on the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the conflicts throughout the world that are still ongoing today. Many of the conflicts are being fought by new generations of soldiers or “freedom fighters”, some barely more than children who inherit the history and the battles from their fathers, grandfathers or even ancestors. In this decade of warfare and violence, it appears as if there is no foreseeable end in sight; the wars are self-perpetuating, the new generations inherit the anger and the vengeance from the past and continue the fight. During the conversation, we discussed how warfare has changed from battles on horseback or on foot, using weapons such as swords which harm only the users. Throughout the course of history, weaponry has evolved to cause more damage and destruction, to the point where today we use missiles and bombs, tanks and fighters, which level cities and kill thousands of civilians. Now, warfare takes the lives of those not present on the battlefield, those who never asked for the violence. Where once battle was honourable and took trained knights or soldiers, now war is as simple as designating specific co-ordinates and launching a missile from the control room. Obviously this is just a part of warfare but serves to illustrate how battles have “evolved”, and how if we do not consciously stop the warfare, then it will continue to perpetuate with each new generation inheriting the history of violence, with no end in sight.

I don’t know the end, or how it began,
or the men that were slain, or the songs that they sang,
but I know that the battles continue this day,
for the violence remains, it is here to stay.

Fighting for freedom, for love and for peace
they clashed swords with Fate and let Death take his prizes
For out of the carnage and blood nothing rises
Save evil and sin, Destiny’s twin, blackened and twisted it rises within
each of the fallen’s kin, to continue the fight on another day,
Avenging their fathers and brothers lay slain, the children grow up, inheriting pain.

And so it continues, this violent act,
when brother kills brother, in an unholy pact,
to continue the wars of their father’s time,
The infinite battle, the ultimate crime,
of taking a life not of your own, to returning to earth another’s blood and bone.

The family awaits at their home all alone but their father lay dead on the cold earth and stone,
when will the price of battle become, too much to bear for the people now numb,
from fear of attack and terror and lies
they fall on their knees and preach to the skies
for an end to the violence, to cut all their ties
to the anger of the past, to the embrace they despise.

No longer do men fight blade with blade
Nor fight with honour, in the glade;
Times past when Death did wait his turn
for bodies to fall amongst the fern
with a blade through heart and destiny self-made the soldiers alone took themselves to the grave.

Now war continues to take its dead
And the fields and sand are still painted red
And Death waits by with gleeful amusement
at the people’s panic, at their confusement.

But now the dead are innocents slain
By the bombs that fall as if like rain
To burn and brighten the darkest night
The people fall, against the might
For no longer do men use sword and bow
to take their victims blow by blow.
For now the weapons are guns and bombs
which flatten cities…Ash falls like snow
amongst the rubble and ruin and blood the children do weep amongst the mud
to inherit the pain once more and again
to continue the battle, to avenge the slain,
Never once knowing it is all the same,
the perpetual fight, the infinite battle,
that nothing has changed in centuries past,
save the weapons that kill have surpassed
mere bows and axes, swords and steel,
The children still are left to feel
the pain and anguish of their father’s fight
to which no end, is ever in sight
The infinite battle, born again, always stays the same.

I don’t know the end, or how it began,
or the men that were slain, or the songs that they sang,
but I know that the battles continue this day,
for the violence remains, it is here to stay.


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