Robley Wilson

from Everything Paid For (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1999)

Sometimes I have wanted to go to war.
The stories are always good -- Thermopylae
Was good, the Gallic campaigns were as good
As you could get against barbarians,
The Crusades were outright inspirational.

Everyone ought to go off to a war
Before he is too old to have the good
Of it. The people we call pacifist
Forget (or never learned) the power of it,
The sense of godliness killing provides.

Who would not want to be an angel, high
Over the enemy's cities with wings
Broad as the foreshadow of death? What boy
Cannot recall from his pitiless dreams
That carnage laid about him in his bed

Of adults and girls? War is for the young
And keeps them young; war is to make a man
Immortal; war is to subvert boredom
And all the dull authority of states.
Who favors war knows what liberty is.

Think about us. War would spare us the vice
Of guilt, the curse of inadequate love,
The remorse of aimlessness. War transforms;
It is a place to start from, props up pride,
Writes history. Out of war, art makes itself.

Sometimes I have wanted to go to war,
To turn flame in anyone's heart. Old names
Dazzle me: Alexander, Genghis Khan,
Caesar, Napoleon -- will any man
Shrink from riding such fame to his grave?

Are you the one gone soft now over peace?
Nonsense. Woman has always profited
From men at war. Since time began, if you
Camp-followed any conqueror, you too
Could count a hundred lovers on the sand.

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