/ M A R K T W A I N S I N G S A N D P R A Y S ______________________________________________ / "Loyalty to my country: always. Loyalty to my government: when it deserves it."


"I am an anti-imperialist.  I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land."



Battle Hymn of the Republic

By Mark Twain


Mine eyes have seen the orgy of the launching of the Sword;

He is searching out the hoardings where the stranger's wealth is stored;

He hath loosed his fateful lightnings,

and with woe and death has scored;

His lust is marching on



I have seen him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps;

They have builded him an altar in the Eastern dews and damps;

I have read his doomful mission by the dim and flaring lamps;

His night is marching on.


I have read his bandit gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:

"As ye deal with my pretensions, so with you my wrath shall deal";

Let the faithless son of Freedom crush the patriot with his heel;

Lo, Greed is marching on!"


We have legalized the strumpet and are guarding her retreat;

Greed is seeking out commercial souls before his judgement seat;

O, be swift, ye clods, to answer him! be jubilant my feet;

Our god is marching on!


In a sordid slime harmonious Greed was born in yonder ditch,

With a longing in his bosom -- and for others' goods an itch.


As Christ died to make men holy,

let men die to make us rich;


Our god is marching on










Excerpt from

The Mysterious Stranger


(Satan:) "Monarchies, aristocracies, and religions are all based upon that large defect in your race -- the individual's distrust of his neighbor, and his desire, for safety's or comfort's sake, to stand well in his neighbor's eye. These institutions will always remain, and always flourish, and always oppress you, affront you, and degrade you, because you will always be and remain slaves of minorities.

There was never a country where the majority of the people were in their secret hearts loyal to any of these institutions."

I did not like to hear our race called sheep, and said I did not think they were.

"Still, it is true, lamb," said Satan. "Look at you in war -- what mutton you are, and how ridiculous!"

"In war? How?"

"There has never been a just one, never an
honorable one -- on the part of the instigator of the war.

I can see a million years ahead, and this rule will never change in so many as half a dozen instances.

The loud little handful -- as usual -- will shout for the war.

= ?

The pulpit will -- warily and cautiously -- object -- at first;

the great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes
and try to make out
why there should be a war
, and will say, earnestly and indignantly,

"It is unjust and dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it."

Then the handful will shout louder.

A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen,

and at first will have a hearing and be applauded; but it will not last long; those others will outshout them,

and presently the anti-war audiences will thin out and lose popularity.

Before long you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform,

and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men who in their secret hearts are still at one with those stoned speakers -- as earlier -- but do not dare to say so And now the whole nation -- pulpit and all -- will take up the war-cry, and shout itself hoarse, and mob any honest man who ventures to open his mouth; and presently such mouths will cease to open.

Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies,

putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked,

and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities,

and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them;

and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just,

and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of

grotesque self-deception."

- Mark Twain, The Mysterious Stranger (1916)
(Excerpt from Chapter 9)








  O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle ­

­ be Thou near them!

With them - in spirit -

we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe.


O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds 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 shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain;


help us to lay waste their humble homes with hurricanes 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 of 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 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.










"Only dead men can tell the truth in this world.
It can be published after I am dead." .

"The War Prayer," a short story or prose poem by Mark Twain, is a scathing indictment of war, and particularly of blind patriotic and religious fervor as motivations for war.

The structure of the work is simple, but effective: an unnamed country goes to war, and patriotic citizens attend a church service for soldiers who have been called up. The people call upon their God to grant them victory and protect their troops. Suddenly, an "aged stranger" appears and announces that he is God's messenger. He explains to them that he is there to speak aloud the second part of their prayer for victory, the part which they have implicitly wished for but have not spoken aloud themselves: the prayer for the suffering and destruction of their enemies. What follows is a grisly depiction of hardships inflicted on wartorn nations by their conquerors. The story ends on a pessimistic note: the messenger is ignored.

The piece was left unpublished by Mark Twain at his death, largely due to pressure from his family, who feared that the story would be considered sacrilegious. Twain's publisher and other friends also discouraged him from publishing it. According to one account, his illustrator Dan Beard asked him if he would publish it regardless, and Twain replied that "Only dead men can tell the truth in this world. It can be published after I am dead." Mindful of public reaction, he considered that he had a family to support, and did not want to be seen as a lunatic or fanatic. In a letter to his confidant Joseph Twichell, he wrote that he had "suppressed" the book for seven years, even though his conscience told him to publish it, because he was not "equal" to the task.

In 2007, journalist Markos Kounalakis, the publisher of The Washington Monthly, produced an animated film with voices by Peter Coyote, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Erik Bauersfeld, and illustrations by Akis Dimitrakopoulos. It was released on Memorial Day, May 28, 2007 on YouTube and its own website.

The excellent 2007 short animated film version of the complete short story, available to view online.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ /

"Man is the only animal that deals in that atrocity of atrocities, War. 
He is the only one that gathers his brethren about him 
and goes forth in cold blood and calm pulse to exterminate his kind.

He is the only animal that for sordid wages will march out and help slaughter strangers of his own species

who have done him no harm and with whom he has no quarrel.
And in the intervals between campaigns he washes the blood off his hands

and works for "the universal brotherhood of man"


- Mark Twain, "What Is Man"?



"It is curious that physical courage should be so common in the world and moral courage so rare." /

- Mark Twain





"The citizen who sees his society's democratic clothes being worn out and does not cry it out, is not a patriot, but a traitor."

/ - Mark Twain /



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