Wednesday, August 02, 2006


Lifeless bodies lying, lay with living
Men, torn and suff’ring still. A battle done
But the dying beat back Black Death, hov’ring
In his sorties for the slain. Patience won
More warriors in the slow embrace of pain
Than the reaping instant of the pitched war.
On the field limbs are moving not. They’ve lain,
A tangled knot and mass of meat, no more
A memory of the thundering host. Red
Armour, bent before the killing blows, seeps
Into the mud and knights, with those they led,
Sink rusting into Hell, to dust, to sleep.
But cries, weak cries, above the gore and dirt
That was a proud and standing man at arms,
Lift pleas, Dear God!, to aid or end the hurt.
The different words in different tongue charms
With partial pity an indifferent knight
Who passed. The dagger in his hand had left
The coup de grace till now. His sword and fight
Was why such dying harvest was bereft
Of most of life. A cruel sight to leave.
Quiet parts the pleading lips as breast bends
To feel the steel of Death. The Fates must weave,
Alas, but thus make mercy and amends.

by Evan Wilson


John Barry said...


Better and better. What has come over you?

The Oracle said...

Been making out with the Muse.

Wolfgang Foxglove said...

Was talking with someone a while back who compared battlefield coup de grace killing with euthenasia. Something about both being forms of "playing God." Personally was not that convinced, but this piece brought the conversation back to mind.


The Oracle said...

Battlefield mercy is merely the extension (and a kind extension) of State's willingness to contend unto death. It is as if the electric chair did not fully kill a criminal and the executioner finished the job. The task of a military is killing not living.

Wolfgang Foxglove said...

So an explanation by way of Aristotelian catagories (It is the entitlement of the soldier to kill, and the doctor only to heal) hold with your extention of governance? I hadn't thought of it so much in the terms you describe, but I think the conclusion is similar.