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Poems by David Roberts

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About these poems  -  November 2023

A relentless destruction of the people of Gaza continues following a terrible terrorist attack in southern Israel.

Some of the following poems were written about the conflict in Serbia/Kosovo in 1999 but they may have some relevance to today's war. They are published in the small volume, Kosovo War Poetry (2000) available from Saxon Books.


Both sides 
have every reason
to hate and to fight.
Have not members of their families
been kidnapped?
Young men beaten?
Women and girls raped?
Crops destroyed?
Animals shot?
Homes torched?
Have not members of their families
been killed?

No one feels safe.

The situation is desperate.
They have suffered a reign of terror.
Their minds are in torment.
Whole communities 
are traumatised.

No man
can tolerate
the destruction of his home
the murder of his children, his wife.
It seems that the destroyer must be destroyed.

What other way 
can there be?

3 June and 1 September 99

The Path to War

There is no justice
and voices of complaint are not heard
so there is hatred.
As there is hatred there is violence.
As there is violence there is retribution.
There is anger and greater anger
and a desire to destroy the causes of suffering.
So there is killing.
And retaliation.
And more killing.
Then you may call it war.

3 June 99

in Kosovo War Poetry


Hatred breeds hatred 
and you have excelled in barbarism.
But how can you change
when you are overwhelmed by suffering?

Is it possible to suffer beyond belief,
to lose all you have worked for,
all you have loved,
and forgive?

Revenge calls out to you,
“Take me, and put an end 
to all who gave you grief.”

Revenge can only put an end
to hope.

10 July 99

in Kosovo War Poetry


Note on There will be Peace:

I realised that my poem "There will be no peace" which appeared in my volume of Kosovo War Poetry was entirely negative and that it could be the opposite. So this is a re-write of my 1999 poem written just after the Kosovo war, but partly with the conflict and people of Northern Ireland in mind. Kosovo War Poetry is available from Saxon Books.



There Will Be Peace


There will be peace:

when attitudes change;

when self-interest is seen as part of common interest;

when old wrongs, old scores, old mistakes

        are deleted from the account;

when the aim becomes co-operation and mutual benefit

        rather than revenge or seizing maximum personal

       or group gain;

when justice and equality before the law

        become the basis of government;

when basic freedoms exist;

when leaders  -  political, religious, educational  -  and  

       the police and media

        wholeheartedly embrace the concepts

        of justice, equality, freedom, tolerance, and


        as a basis for renewal;

when parents teach their children new ways to think

       about people.


There will be peace:

when enemies become fellow human beings.


David Roberts

November 2003

Based on poem in Kosovo War Poetry



The Pilot's Testament

A war poem about the moral implications of service personnel obeying orders to carry out lethal action, and the media and general public's perception of those actions.

I seek no glory.

I bear no anger.

I hate no man.


I do the unspeakable

on behalf of the ungrateful.

I bomb targets chosen by others.


I have surrendered my will

to a higher authority.

I trust the cause to be right

and the methods appropriate.

There is no place for questioning.

There can be no other way.


I do my duty.

You can rely on me.

I will not let you down.

Though my task may be dangerous,

neither fear nor doubt

will prevent me.


Consider me.

Physically and mentally

my ability is exceptional.

My judgement and reflexes

are trained to perfection.

I am chosen from the elite,

the very best.

Many accord me

great respect.


I possess power beyond imagination.

Like a god I roar through the heavens,





the earth beneath me,

the whole of creation

available to me,


my quick shot

of death and destruction.


My victims are unaware of me.

I am unaware of my victims.


They go about their lives

not knowing only a few seconds remain.


We are arriving

at the appointed time and place.


At a touch I fix their fate.


Moments later,

in mid conversation,

a flash,

and they are gone.


I cannot pretend it was difficult.


Their will was done,

and I, merely an instrument of death.

I did my duty,

but I accept no guilt.


I come down to earth

as a man among men,

unmarked, unrecognised,

unremarkable, unnoticed:

I easily blend.


I am not available for comment.

I am not an item of news. The story is elsewhere.


I return to my family

as if nothing has happened.


15- 22 December 99

Backward Vision

Sadly I see your future:

supervised political arrangements
finely tuned,
perfectly balanced,
but, introduce your politicians
and the will isn’t there.                    
They have problems with fixed mindsets,
old animosities
transparently disguised.
Every move is guarded.
They bicker, and are bloodyminded.

The problems you face are vast,
but you can't step into the future
because you are rooted in the past.

15 August  99

in Kosovo War Poetry

All Wars
All wars
are racist wars
fought against the evil them
by the self-righteous us.

13 June 99

in Kosovo War Poetry

History is taught
to foster racial illusions.
Who but the British
believe in the moral superiority
of the British?  

in Kosovo War Poetry


A Just War
You killed our families.
So we will kill yours.
This is just a war,
they said.
And we will go on killing
just until everyone is dead.

14 June 99

in Kosovo War Poetry

A Violent or a Peaceful World  -  About the poem, Making or Breaking 

The promoters of narrow patriotism, nationalism and racism suffer from a moral short-sightedness which leads to the kind of misery and horror we have witnessed in Yugoslavia in the last ten years of the twentieth century. Not only Serbs and Kosovo Albanians acted on racist motives, but NATO nations, too. Leaders who base action on racist attitudes lack a vision of the world appropriate to the needs of their people and the world as a whole. 

All races are in a minority. All need the support and co-operation of others. All could make better use of their time and talent if they directed their energies to co-operative problem solving, rather than the harassment and extermination of others they have picked on to blame for their troubles. 

The fate of the people of the world is linked. We prosper or die together. We have a choice.

Making or Breaking

We inherit the world,
the whole of history,
our place on earth,
our place in time,
our fortune, good or bad,
pure chance.

in one picture, 
we see our entire planet:
one world,
one race,
one future,
bound together for the first time.
Ours for the breaking
or making.

12 December 99

in Kosovo War Poetry

This poem was set to music by Norwegian classical composer Kim Andre Arnesen. It is available on the Naxos CD, Infinity.



What is war?


What is war?

In the human psyche

it is the fatal flaw,

a perversion of the human mind,

turning the morally sighted

morally blind.


War is

the profoundest disrespect

for the sanctity

of human life,

the ultimate in racism.


War is

cruelty, horror, pain, suffering and waste,

a negation of civilisation,

the ultimate in human degradation,

the ultimate in criminality,

the ultimate obscenity,

the ultimate crime against humanity:

a self-defeating

leap into the abyss.


David Roberts
2004 and 2023.

Remembrance Day 2004


Remembrance Day 2004.

More British soldiers dead

In another British war.


Yesterday some of their parents

In anguish and anger went to Downing Street

To lay a wreath

To lay the blame

At the door

Of the man most responsible

For our latest war.


But their sons are gone.


And Iraq's cities are in ruins.

In many thousands Iraq, too, has lost its sons.

Their sons are gone, their children maimed.

Chaos and trauma are everywhere.

For the shattering of this nation

We share the blame.


No fine words can give these crimes

The slightest gloss.


Parents grieve. Such a quantity of grief.

Such needless destruction. Such needless pain.

Parents grieve.

Let us reflect on

Their needless loss.


Let us reflect on their needless loss.


David Roberts

Kosovo War Poetry (2000) is available from Saxon Books.

Biographical information about David Roberts can be found by clicking here.

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