Harris and the Mare
A poetic polemic on pacifism
A nation’s political interests can often feel remote from the day to day lives of her citizenry, and wars are often branded as a “just” cause to garner public support. Certainly Jesus Christ called for his followers to be peacemakers — even to love their enemies; but He also teaches that “greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13) So, what responsibility does a peaceful man bear when he sees vulnerable people under attack? From threats both domestic and foreign, is not the defense of ones neighbour justified? How much more when it comes to your own household?
If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength! Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done? Proverbs 24:10-12
Perhaps on some similar train of thought, the late, great Stan Roger’s had penned an insightful polemic into the nature of pacifism. In his ballad, Rogers paints a picture of someone who was a conscientious objector (or “conshie” as they say) in wartime, but is now confronted with the brutality of man on a strictly personal level. I’ll let Stan speak for himself. You can listen to Harris and the Mare on YouTube by clicking here. For easy reference, I’ve posted the lyrics below.
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Harris and the Mare
Harris, my old friend, good to see your face again More welcome, though, yon trap and that old mare For the wife is in a swoon, and I am all alone Harris, fetch thy mare and take us home The wife and I came out for a quiet glass of stout And a word or two with neighbors in the room But young Clary, he came in, as drunk and wild as sin And swore the wife would leave the place with him But the wife as quick as thought said, “No, I’ll bloody not” Then struck the brute a blow about the head He raised his ugly paw, and he lashed her on the jaw And she fell onto the floor like she were dead Now Harris, well you know, I’ve never struck an angry blow Nor would I keep a friend who raised his hand I was a conshie in the war, cryin’ what the hell’s this for? But I had to see his blood to be a man I grabbed him by his coat, spun him ’round and took his throat And beat his head upon the parlor door He dragged out an awful knife, and he roared “I’ll have your life” And he stuck me and I fell onto the floor Now blood I was from neck to thigh, bloody murder in his eye As he shouted out “I’ll finish you for sure” But as the knife came down, I lashed out from the ground And the knife was in his breast and he rolled o’er Now with the wife as cold as clay I carried her away No hand was raised to help us through the door And I’ve brought her half a mile, but I’ve had to rest a while And none of them I’ll call a friend no more For when the knife came down, I was helpless on the ground No neighbor stayed his hand, I was alone By God, I was a man, but now I cannot stand Please, Harris, fetch thy mare, take us home Oh, Harris, fetch thy mare, and take us out of here In my nine and fifty years I’ve never known That to call myself a man, for my loved one I must stand Now Harris, fetch thy mare take us home