Monday, June 23, 2008

Ambrose Bierce on War

From Today in Literature:

"Ambrose Bierce was wounded in the U.S. Civil War on this day in 1864, a day short of his twenty-second birthday.

Bierce’s war experiences inspired several of his most famous short stories, and this bit of anti-pacifism from his Devil’s Dictionary:

WAR, n. A by-product of the arts of peace.

The most menacing political condition is a period of international amity.... It was when Kubla Khan had decreed his 'stately pleasure dome' — when, that is to say, there were peace and fat feasting in Xanadu — that he “heard from afar / Ancestral voices prophesying war.”

One of the greatest of poets, Coleridge was one of the wisest of men, and it was not for nothing that he read us this parable. Let us have a little less of 'hands across the sea,' and a little more of that elemental distrust that is the security of nations. War loves to come like a thief in the night; professions of eternal amity provide the night.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Wow, that was interesting.

So would he say that peace and war are natural and happen virtually without end?