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The Spike: or, Victoria College Review, 1939

The Fateful Twenty-Fifth

page 15

The Fateful Twenty-Fifth

The fateful twenty-fifth of August.

Lowering grey skies dropping hopeless shafts of water, not the happy, laughing water gurgling on its way, but the dreary smoky wetness of a frightened city. Must there be way? Why must there be war? The accordeon groans above the sad swish of streaming cars "Gassed in the war—help a poor soldier." What war? How soon will this city stand quiet, its grasping commercial sinews paralysed under a deadly fear, the drone of death high in the skies?

And what shall I do? join up—hurry with the unthinking triumph-shouting army intent upon doom? Despite their banners of lambent patriotism, despite the urging of their sweethearts, friends, despite their pomp and circumstance, their doom is assured, predestined to be fouled and muddy, sudden, inglorious and sure. The atrocities of war are not committed by soldiers, but by those who wave them on their prideful, premature oblivion.

Is this the purpose of the human race? Self-effacement in the hideous clangour of war? The course of Adam? No, a we've forgotten that legend now. It's either Socialism or Capital that causes our miseries now. No, a recriminatory line won't get us any further. Must we fight? Tell us one good reason why, a reason you equally well give to a German, Austrian, Russian, or Spanish youth... Must our children shirking, anyway? Why is it shirking to refuse your body for the foulest dung-heap civilisation can keep steaming in its glory? To feed the flames of hate and corruption so that our children may reap the harvest of blood and steel a hundredfold.

Children? Who dares say children? They are innocence and place. Have we the right to create innocence in a world whose hungry maw craves only cannon fodder? (I did't want to die a vergin, whimpers the adolescent soldier lad. Well, fool, why die at all?) Is race suicide better by screaming, mutilating, maiming metal, than by ceasing to create? Turmoil—while all we ask is a quiet mind at place, the satisfaction of instinct—but—what unit shall I join? Peace? Ha, ice in hell... O God, peace, grant peace.

I. McA.