Oh, where are you coming from, soldier, gaunt soldier,
With weapons beyond any reach of my mind,
With weapons so deadly the world must grow older
And die in its tracks, if it does not turn kind?
Stephen Vincent Benét isn’t very well-known for his science fiction, as far as I can tell; he wrote “By the Waters of Babylon“, and the story is known, but since he was better known for other work and came to science fiction late in a relatively short life, his name doesn’t bubble to the top very easily in genre discussions.
I ran across the poem while looking up The War Game (1965, BBC, an “and you though Threads was upsetting” kind of mockumentary), which uses it as an epigram. About once every eight months I run across it again, and then I spend three days humming it to a tune that’s something like “The Streets of Laredo”.
This time, I thought I’d share; the text in its entirety is here.