Thomas Hardy: How long must your wroth reasonings trade on lives like these?

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

British writers on peace and war

Thomas Hardy: Selections on war

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Departure
(Southampton Docks: October, 1899)

While the far farewell music thins and fails,
And the broad bottoms rip the bearing brine –
All smalling slowly to the gray sea line –
And each significant red smoke-shaft pales,
Keen sense of severance everywhere prevails,
Which shapes the late long tramp of mounting men
To seeming words that ask and ask again:
“How long, O striving Teutons, Slavs, and Gaels
Must your wroth reasonings trade on lives like these,
That are as puppets in a playing hand? –
When shall the saner softer polities
Whereof we dream, have play in each proud land,
And patriotism, grown Godlike, scorn to stand
Bondslave to realms, but circle earth and seas?”
As if they knew not that they weep the while.