Banners Hoisted by T. De Witt Talmage

BANNERS HOISTED
T. DeWitt Talmage
Psalm 20:5

I hate war! In boyhood we may have read the biography
of Alexander or of some Revolutionary hero until our
young hearts beat high and we wished we had been born
over a hundred years ago, just for the glory of
striking down a Hessian. For rusty swords hung up on
the rafters and bullets cut out of log houses in which
they were lodged during the great strife we had
unbounded admiration, or on some public day, clothed
in our grandfather's soldierly accoutrements, we felt
as brave as Garibaldi or Miltiades. We are wiser now,
for we make a vast distinction between the poetry and
the prose of war: The roll of drums and the call of
bugles, and the champing of steeds foaming and pawing
for the battle; a hundred thousand muskets glittering
among the dancing plumes; "God Save the King" waving
up from clarionets and trumpets and rung back from
deep defiles or the arches of a prostrate city;
distant capitals of kingdoms illuminated at the
tidings; generals returning home under flaming arches
and showering amaranths and the shout of empires; that
is poetry. Chilled and half-blanketed, lying on the
wet earth; feet sore with the march and bleeding at
the slightest touch; hunger pulling on every fibre of
flesh or attempting to satisfy itself with a scanty
and spoiled ration; thirst licking up the dew or
drinking out of filthy and trampled pool; thoughts of
home and kindred far away while just on the eve of a
deadly strife, where death may leap on him from any
one of a hundred bayonets; the closing in of two
armies, now changed to a hundred thousand maniacs; the
ground slippery with blood and shattered flesh; fallen
ones writhing under the hoofs of unbridled chargers
maddened with pain; the dreadfulness of night that
comes down when the strife is over; the struggle of
the wounded ones crawling out over the corpses; the
long, feverish agony of the crowded barrack an ...


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