There has been wrong done since the world began,
that young men should go out and die in war,
and lie face down in the dust for a brief span,
and be not good to look at any more.
It is the old men with their crafty eyes
and greedy fingers and their feeble lungs,
make mischief in the world and are called wise,
and bring war on us with their garrulous tongues.
It is the old men hid in secret rooms,
feign wisdom while they sign our peace away,
and turn fair meadows into reeking tombs,
and passionate bridegrooms into bloodied clay.
It is the old men should be sent to fight!
The old men grown so wise they have forgot
the touch of mouth on mouth in the still night,
the tenderness that wedded lovers wot;
the dreams that dwell in the eyes of a young bride;
the secret beauty of things said and done;
the hope of children coming, and the pride
of little homes and gardens in the sun.
It is the old men that have nought to lose,
and nought to pray for but their gasping breath,
should bear this ill of the world, and so choose
out of their beds to meet their master, Death.
This is the bitterest wrong the world wide,
that young men on the battlefield should rot,
and I be widowed who was scarce a bride,
while prattling old men sit at ease and plot.
– Nina Murdoch