Do Not Weep, Maiden, for War Is Kind

  • Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind.
  • Because your lover threw wild hands toward the sky
  • And the affrighted steed ran on alone,
  • Do not weep.
  • War is kind.
  • Hoarse, booming drums of the regiment,
  • Little souls who thirst for fight,
  • These men were born to drill and die.
  • The unexplained glory flies above them,
  • Great is the battle-god, great, and his kingdom —
  • A field where a thousand corpses lie.
  • Do not weep, babe, for war is kind.
  • Because your father tumbled in the yellow trenches,
  • Raged at his breast, gulped and died,
  • Do not weep.
  • War is kind.
  • Swift blazing flag of the regiment,
  • Eagle with crest of red and gold.
  • These men were born to drill and die.
  • Point for them the virtue of slaughter,
  • Make plain to them the excellence of killing
  • And a field where a thousand corpses lie.
  • Mother whose heart hung humble as a button
  • On the bright splendid shroud of your son,
  • Do not weep.
  • War is kind.

A novelist, poet, and short-story writer, Stephen Crane (1871–1900) published his first novel, Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, at his own expense. It received scant attention. But his next novel The Red Badge of Courage (1895) brought Crane international fame and some degree of wealth. Many saw it as capturing the feel of actual Civil War combat, though Crane himself had no military experience. Crane is the author of many short stories that have become classics, among them “The Open Boat” and “The Blue Hotel.” Crane was also an actively publishing poet and worked as a newspaper correspondent in both the Greco-Turkish War of 1897 and the Spanish-American War. This bitter poem, “Do Not Weep, Maiden, for War Is Kind,” appeared in 1899 in his final poetry collection, War Is Kind. A year later, while living in England with Cora Taylor, the former owner of a Florida brothel, Crane died of tuberculosis. He was 29 years old.

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