"The Next War" by Osbert Sitwell

The long war had ended. Its miseries had grown faded.

Deaf men became difficult to talk to,

Heroes became bores.

Those alchemists

Who had converted blood into gold

Had grown elderly.

But they held a meeting,

Saying,

'We think perhaps we ought

To put up tombs

Or erect altars

To those brave lads

Who were so willingly burnt,

Or blinded,

Or maimed,

Who lost all likeness to a living thing,

Or were blown to bleeding patches of flesh

For our sakes.

It would look well.

Or we might even educate the children.'

But the richest of these wizards

Coughed gently;

And he said:

 

'I have always been to the front

-In private enterprise-,

I yield in public spirit

To no man.

I think yours is a very good idea

-A capital idea-

And not too costly . . .

But it seems to me

That the cause for which we fought

Is again endangered.

What more fitting memorial for the fallen

Than that their children

Should fall for the same cause?'

 

Rushing eagerly into the street,

The kindly old gentlemen cried

To the young:

'Will you sacrifice

Through your lethargy

What your fathers died to gain ?

The world must be made safe for the young!'

And the children

Went. . . .

 

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