Phil Duncan on Tue, 17 Sep 2002 05:33:06 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> The War Prayer

The following prayer is from a story by Mark Twain, and was quoted by Lewis
Laphan in the October issue of Harper's magazine. It occurs at the very end
of an excellent article which I recommend to you.

In the story, an old man enters a church where the congregation has been
listening to an heroic sermon about "the glory to be won in battle by young
patriots armed with the love of God." He usurps the pulpit and prays the

"O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreads with our
shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their
patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of
their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with
a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows
with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little
children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and
hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames in summer and the icy winds of
winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of
the grave and denied it -- for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their
hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their
steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood
of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the
Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that
are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen."

Twain wrote the story, "The War Prayer," in 1905 during the American
occupation of the Philippines, but the story wasn't printed until 1923,
thirteen years after his death, because the editors thought it "unsuitable"
for publication at the time it was written.

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