Naked Warrior From : Anarchy Archives. 2017-02-09 16:15:48 DAISY DAISY revoltlib_1522_1502 English Eternity Naked Warrior Naked Warrior Naked Warrior i This DAISY file was generated by the Green Gluon CMS, v. 1.00. The URL containing the original data is: ii

Naked Warrior


Table of Contents

T.O.C. - Subject Organization

  • Frontmatter i
  • Production Note ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Table of Contents iv
  • Naked Warrior (Chapter) 1
  • Photo by Carsten ten Brink,CC BY-NC-ND License Naked Warriors (Part) 1
  • Herbert Read, London: Art & Letters, 1919. (Chapter) 1
  • T.O.C. - Page Organization

  • Page i i
  • Page ii ii
  • Page iii iii
  • Page iv iv
  • Page 1 1
  • Page 2 2
  • Page 3 3
  • Page 4 4
  • Page 5 5
  • Page 6 6

  • iv

    Naked Warrior

    Naked Warrior


    People :

    Author : Herbert Read

    Tags : black columns, happy warrior, life, body, death, war, earth, soul, horror, beauty.

    Text :

     Photo by Carsten ten Brink, CC BY-NC-ND License

    Photo by Carsten ten Brink,
    CC BY-NC-ND License

    Naked Warriors

    Herbert Read, London: Art & Letters, 1919.


    I would like to speak for a generation to following effect:

    We, who in manhood's dawn have been compelled to care not a damn for life or death, now care less still for the convention of glory and the intellectual apologies for what can never be to us other than a riot of ghastliness and horror, of inhumanity and negation. May we, therefore, for the sake of life itself, be resolved to live with a cleaner and more direct realization of natural values. May we be unafraid of our frank emotions, and may we maintain a callous indifference to falsely-artistic prettifying of life. Then, as the reflex of such beauty where hitherto it has had no absolute existence. From sickness of life revealed to us turn with glad hearts to the serenity of some disinterested beauty. In that way we may so progress that our ethical rage give us duly esthetic sanction.



    Reule thyself, that other folk may rede And trouthe shall delivere, it is no drede. -- Chaucer

    Ernest Kneeshaw grew
    In the forest of his dreams
    Like a woodland flower whose amaemic petals
    Need the sun.

    Life was for him a far perspective
    Of high black columns
    Flanking, arching and encircling.
    He never, even vaguely, tried to pierce
    The gloom about him,
    But was content to contemplate
    His finger-nails and wrinkled boots.

    He might at least have perceived
    A secual atmosphere;
    But even when his body burned and urged
    Like the buds and roots around him,
    Abashed by the will-less promptings of his flesh,
    He continued to contemplate his feet.

    Kneeshaw went to war,
    And they set about with much painstaking
    To straighten his drooping back:
    On bleak moors and among harsh fellows
    He kissed the elemental.

    But still his mid reelected things
    Like a cold steel mirror-emotionless;
    Yet in reflecting he became accomplished
    And, to some extent,
    Divested of ancestral gloom.

    Then Kneeshaw crossed the sea.

    Arrived at Boulogne
    He cast a backward glance across the barbours
    And saw there a forest of assembled masts and


    Rather reminiscent of former abodes.
    And, Like the sweep from a released dam,
    His thought flooded unfamiliar paths:

    This forest was congregated
    From various climates and strange seas:
    Hadn't each ship some separate memory
    Of sunlit scenes or arduous waters?
    Didn't each bring in the high glamor
    Of conquered force?
    Didn't each bring in the high glamor
    Of conquered force?
    Wasn't the forest-gloom of their assembly
    A Body built of living cells,
    Of personalities and experiences
    - A witness of heroism
    Co-existent with man

    And that dark forest of his youth-
    Couldn't he liberate the black columns
    Flanking, arching, encircling him with dread?
    Couldn't he let them spread from his vision like a
    Taking the open sea,
    Disintegrating into light and color and the fra-
    grance of winds? And perhaps insome thought they would return
    Laden with strange merchandise-
    And with the passing thought
    Pass unregretted into far horizons.

    These were Kneeshaw's musing
    Whist he yet dwelt in the romantic fringes.

    Then, with many other men,
    He was transported in a cattle-truck
    To the scene of war.

    For a while chance was kind
    Save for inevitable
    Searing of the mind.

    But later Kneeshaw's war
    Became intense.
    Arras was a picnic;
    But Ypres . . .
    That ghastly desolation Sank into men's hearts and turned them black-
    Cankered them with horror.
    Kneeshaw felt himself
    A cog in some great evil engine,
    Unwilling, but revolving tempestuously
    By unseen springs . . .
    He plunged with listless mind
    Into the black horror.

    There are a few who will find it hard to forget
    The earth was scared and broken
    By torrents of plunging shells;
    Then washed and sodden with autumnal rains.
    And Polygon beke
    (perhaps a rippling stream
    In the days of Kneeshaw's gloom)
    Spread itself like a fatal quicksand,
    A sucking, clutching death.
    They had to be across the beke
    And in their line before dawn . . .
    Aman who was marching by Kneeshaw's side
    Hesitated in the middle of the mud,
    And slowly sank, weighted down by equipment
    and arms.
    He cried for help;
    Rifles were stretched to him;
    He clutched and they tugged,
    But slowly he sank.
    He terror grew-
    Grew visibly when the viscous ooze
    Reached his neck.
    And there he seemed to stick,


    Sinking no more.
    They could not dig him out-
    The oozing mud would flow back again.

    The dawn was very near.

    An officer shot him through the head;
    Not a neat job- the revolver
    Was too close.

    Then the dawn came, silver on the wet brown

    Kneeshaw found himself in the second wave:
    The unseen springs revolved the cog
    Through all the mutations of that storm of death.
    He started when he heard them cry "Dig in!"
    He had to think and couldn't for a while . . .
    The he seized a pick from the nearest man
    And clawed passionately upon the churned earth,
    With satisfaction his pick
    Cleft the skull of buried man.
    Kneeshaw tugged the clinging pick,
    Saw its burden and shrieked.

    For a second or two he was impotent
    Vainly trying to recover his will, but his senses
    Then mercifully
    A hot blast and riotous detonation
    Hurled his mangled body
    Into the beautiful peace of coma.

    There came a day when Kneeshaw,
    Minus a leg, on crutches,
    Stalked the woods and hills of his native land.
    And on the hills he would sing his war-song.

    Listen now to Kneeshaw's war-song:

    The forest gloom breaks:
    The wild black masts
    Seaward sweep on adventurous ways:
    I grip my crutches and keep
    A lonely view-
    In wildernesses I forgot
    Gardens immaculate.

    I stand on this hill and accept
    The pleasure my flesh dictates.
    I count not kisses nor take
    Too serious a view of tobacco.

    Judas no doubt was right
    In a mental sort of way:
    For he betrayed another and so
    With purpose was self-justified.
    But I delivered my body to fear
    I was bloodies fool than he.

    stand on this hill and accept
    The flowers at my feet and the deep
    Beauty f the still tarn:
    Chance that gave me a crutch and a view
    Doubtless gave me these.

    The soul is not a dogmatic affair
    Like manliness, color and light;
    But these essentials there be:
    To speak truth and from this hill
    Let burning stars irradiate the contemplated


    And perhaps out horror,
    Some hideousness to stamp beauty
    a mark
    on our hearts.


    I.-Villages Demolis

    The villages are strewn
    In red and yellow heaps of rubble:

    Here and there
    Interior walls
    Lie unpturned and interrogate the skies amazedly

    Walls that once held
    Within their cubic confines
    A soul that now lies strewn


    In red and yellow
    Heaps of rubble.

    II. –The Crucifix

    His body is smashed
    Through the belly and chest,
    And the head hangs lopsided
    From one nailed hand.

    Emblem of agony,
    We have smashed you!


    Fear is a wave
    Beating throughout the air
    And on taut nerves impingeing
    Till there it wins
    Vibrating chords.

    All goes well
    So long as you tune the instrument
    To simulate composure

    (So you will become
    A gallant gentleman.)

    But when the strings are broken. . . .
    Then you will grovel on the earth
    And your rabbit eyes
    Will fill with fragments of your shattered soul.

    IV.- The Happy Warrior

    His wild heart beats with painful sobs,
    His strained hands clench an ice-cold rigle,
    His aching jaws grip a hot parched tongue,
    And his wide eyes search unconsciously.

    He cannot shriek.

    Bloody saliva
    Dribbles down his shapeless jacket.

    I saw him stab
    And stab again
    A well-killed Boche.

    This is the happy warrior,
    This he. . . .

    V. – Liedholz

    When I captured Liedholz
    I had a blackened face
    Like a nigger's,
    And teeth like white mosaics shone.

    We met in the night a half-past one,
    Between the lines.
    Liedholz shot at me
    And I at him;
    And in the ensuing tumult he surrendered to me.

    Before we reached our wire
    He told me he had a wife and three children.
    In the dug-out we gave him a whiskey.
    Going to Brigade with my prisoner at dawn,
    The early sun made the land delightful,
    And larks rose singing from the palin.

    In broken French we discussed
    Beethoven, Nietzsche and the International.

    He was a professor
    Living at Spandua;
    And not too intelligible.

    But my black face and nigger's teeth
    Amused him.

    VI. – The Refugees

    Mute figures with bowed heads
    They travel along the road:
    Old women, incredibly old,
    And a hand-cart of chattels.

    They do not weep:
    Their eyes are too dark for tears.

    Past them have hastened
    Processions of retreating gunteams,
    Baggage-wagons and with horsemen.
    Now they struggle along
    With the rearguard of a broken army.

    We will hold the enemy towards nightfall
    And they will move
    Mutely into the dark behind us,
    Only the creaking cart
    Disturbing their sorrowful serenity.


    Foule! Tone ame entiere est debout
    Dans mon corps.



    You became
    In many acts and quiet observances


    A body souled, entire. . . .

    I cannot tell
    What time your life became mine:
    Perhaps when one summer night
    We halted on the roadside
    In the starlight only,
    And you sang your safe home-songs,
    Dirges which I standing outside your soul
    Coldly condemned.

    Perhaps one night, descending cold,
    When rum was mighty acceptable,
    And my doling gave birth to sensual gratitude.

    And then our fights: we've fought together
    Compact, unanimous;
    And I have felt the pride of leadership.

    And then our fights;we've fought together
    Compact, unanimous;
    And I have felt the pride of leadership.

    In many acts and quiet observances
    You absorbed me:
    Until one day I stood eminent
    And saw you gathered round me,
    And about you a radiance that seemed to beat
    With variant flow and to give
    Grace to our unity.

    But, God! I know that I'll stand
    Someday in the loneliest wilderness,
    Someday my heart will cry
    For the soul that has been but that now
    Is scattered with the winds,
    Deceased and devoid.

    I know that I'll wander with a cry:
    "O beautiful men, O men I loved,
    O whither are you gone, my company?"

    This is a hell
    Immortal while I live.


    My men go wearily
    With their monstrous burdens.

    They bear wooden planks
    And iron sheeting
    Through the area of death.

    When a flare curves through the sky
    They rest immobile.

    Then on again,
    Sweating and blaspheming-
    "Oh, bloody Christ!"

    My men, my modern Christs,
    Your bloody agony confronts the world.

    A man of mine
    lies on the wire.
    It is death to fetch his soulless corpse.

    A man of mine
    lies on the wire;
    And he will rot
    And first his lips
    The worms will eat.

    It is not thus I would have him kissed,
    But with the warm passionate lips
    Of his comrade here.

    IV. – I

    Kenneth Farrar is typical of many:
    He smokes his pipe with a glad heart
    And makes his days serene;
    He fights hard,
    And in his speech he hates the Boche:-
    But really he doesn't care a damn.
    His sexual experience is wide and various
    And his curses are rather original.

    But I've seen him kiss a dying man;
    And if he comes thro' all right
    (So he say)
    He'll settle down and marry.


    But Malyon says this:
    "Old Ken's a wandering fool;
    If we come thro'
    Our souls will never settle in suburban hearths;
    We'll linger our remaining days


    Unsettled, haunted by the wrong that's done us;
    The best world;
    The rest will gradually subside,
    In unknown lands."

    And Ken will jeer:
    "The natives of Samoa
    Are suitably naïve."


    I can assume
    A giant attitude and godlike mood,
    And then detachedly regard
    All riots, conflicts and collisions.

    The men I've lived with
    Lurch suddenly into a far perspective;
    They distantly gather like a dark cloud of birds
    In the autumn sky.

    Urged by some unanimous
    Volition or fate,
    Clouds clash in opposition;
    The sky quivers, the dead descend;
    Earth yawns.

    And they are all of one species.

    From my giant attitude,
    In godlike mood,
    I laugh till space is filled
    With hellish merriment.

    Then again I assume
    My human docility,
    Bow my head
    And share their doom.

    From : Anarchy Archives.

    Chronology :

    November 30, 1918 : Naked Warrior -- Publication.
    February 09, 2017 : Naked Warrior -- Added to
    April 13, 2019 : Naked Warrior -- Last Updated on

    file generated from :


    This DAISY file was generated by the Green Gluon CMS, v. 1.00. The URL containing the original data is at : .