Agee: cursed profit

armsAs part of a piece called “Dedication”, from his Permit me voyage (Yale, 1934) James Agee wrote what must be one of the most horrendous curses ever written, against those who prolong conflict to profit from the arms trade.

To those men who, of all nations unhindered, to all nations faithless, make it their business to destroy concord and to incite war and to prolong it, for their profit in the commerce of armament: to those governors of nations who, in full knowledge of this, visit upon them neither punishment nor restriction nor disapproval, but are accomplices, exhorting and deceiving and compelling the men for whose good life they rule deliberately into death, and death’s danger, and the shattering of flesh and spirit. Of these merchants and of these rulers may the loins thaw with a shrieking pain, and may there be slow nails in the skulls of each, and may lost winds of plague unspeakable alight like flies upon their flesh, here in this earth and by public arrangement, to the sweet entertainment of all men of good will: and in their death may the vengeance of God shock their flesh from their bones, and their bones off the air, and all that was of them be reduced to the quintessence of pain very eternal, from moment to moment more exquisite everlastingly, by a geometrical increase: unless by improbable miracle they repent themselves straightway and for good.