With all due contrition

Here we are fighting. On these grassy and peaceful fields we savage each other, though no blood is spilled, though never these lawns have felt the bite and comfort of a snaky ditch, though never the silence underneath these immemorial trees has been broken by twang of bow or crack of bullet, nor by clash of steel or rattling cry. Our hands are unblooded, but for all that we are warriors no less fierce than the weary, footsore stranger whose eyes are wide and sad, no less quick to maim and butcher than the shaggy northmen that swept upon these rocky shores and sowed disease and rapine and barbarism across shadowed centuries.

No monuments are raised to our heroism, no triumphant processions made with slaves to whisper malice in our ears, no laurel wreaths, no, nor condemnations delivered of our waste and our violence, no studies made of what we have destroyed, no laments raised for those we have honoured by destruction, nor curses cast, nor scorn flung in our teeth, nor defiance, nor cowardice. But we have withered lives and sown salt upon the fields.

Our hands, though pacific, are not innocent; our dreams are not untroubled.