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Angry Scrooge

I find that I cannot get into the spirit of holidays that seem to celebrate war, violence and death. It is not that I doubt the sincerity of celebrants, or that I feel my sentiments are on a higher plain. There is just something that strikes me as perverse about it. The beer and truck ads on TV trumpeting "guts and glory" are particularly repulsive. Here is a poem by A. E. Housman.

Epitaph on Army of Mercenaries

These, in the days when heaven was falling,
The hour when earth's foundations fled,
Followed their mercenary calling
And took their wages and are dead.

Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood, and the earth's foundations stay;
When God abandoned, these defended,
And saved the sum of things for pay.

—A. E. Housman

Housman was not (to my knowledge) a soldier, so he is not considered one of the English "World War I poets." The poem above was written 1914 shortly after the battle of Ypres. Like Thomas Hardy, Houseman had a way of seeing through cant.


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