Learning Hate, Poem by William Stafford Teaches How War Starts

Learning Hate, Poem by William Stafford Teaches How War Starts November 28, 2017
photo by Sgt Erica Vinyard, Wikipedia Commons
photo by Sgt Erica Vinyard, Wikipedia Commons

I find this poem breathtaking. I hope you do, too. Stafford’s simple scene challenges us to recognize that the enemies of humanity are those who teach hate.

LEARNING

A piccolo played, then a drum.

Feet began to come — a part

of the music. Here came a horse,

clippety clop, away.

 

My mother said, “Don’t run —

the army is after someone

other than us.  If you stay

you’ll learn our enemy.”

 

Then he came, the speaker.  He stood

in the square.  He told us who

to hate. I watched my mother’s face,

its quiet. “That’s him,” she said.

 

from Every War Has Two Losers, William Stafford on Peace and War, 2003


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