Antiwar literary selections


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Henri Barbusse: Selections on war


Henri Barbusse
From Light (1918)
Translated by Fitzwater Wray


The valley has suddenly filled with tumult. On the road which goes along the opposite slope a regiment is passing on its way to the barracks, a new regiment, with its colors. The flag goes on its way in the middle of a long-drawn hurly-burly, in vague shouting, in plumes of dust and a sparkling mist of battle.

We have both mechanically risen on the edge of the road. At the moment when the flag passes before us, the habit of saluting it trembles in my arms. But, just as when a while ago the bishop’s lifted hand did not humble me, I stay motionless, and I do not salute.

No, I do not bow in presence of the flag. It frightens me, I hate it…

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