Death Is Kind?

I want to thank the author of “The Red Badge of Courage,” Stephen Crane, for the following poem. The irony is deep and it reminds me of those that tell me about their loved one that died, “He passed away with a smile on his face,” “She is at peace now,” “He lived a long life!” “She must have known she would die soon.” Those sentiments attempt to make death a good thing. It’s like saying,

“Do Not Weep Maiden, 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 files 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 the 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.

War is not kind and we know it. If war is kind, death is kind. And we can continue telling our stories: that we are at peace because he no longer suffers; that her time was up; that God took them; that a memorial will keep them alive in our hearts.

No. Death is the worst insult I have ever known. Death is not kind. If it is, war is kind, too.

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