≡ Menu

Only By Fire is Fascism Finished

Year upon year in Earth’s darker forests,
Heaped at the foot of the trees,
Dry drifts of wood rot and leaf fall increase
Which sunlight shall never seize.

The vampire by sunlight or stake.
The wolfman by silver in bone.
The demon by bell, book, and pentagram.
The fascist by fire alone.

The ash that descends in the September skies
Where the leapers swam down the stones?
Best answered by bombs from mid-heaven at prayer
With that fire which hollows the bones.

The vampire by sunlight or stake.
The wolfman by silver in bone.
The demon by bell, book, and pentagram.
The fascist by fire alone.

If their god decrees war, God’s war shall prevail.
His lessons are seared in His stone.
No dreams shall defer, nor wishes erase,
The answers that burn in the bone.

The vampire by sunlight or stake.
The wolfman by silver in bone.
The demon by bell, book, and pentagram.
The fascist by fire alone.

Only by Fire is Fascism Finished.
This Sin is demanded that Your Line may Live.
Only through Fire is Freedom Reborn.
Each generation pulls the Sword from the Stone.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Rob De Witt January 23, 2018, 2:31 PM

    This belongs carved in marble, G.


  • Joe Krill January 23, 2018, 4:10 PM

    This poem is very moving. I would like to know who wrote it.
    “This Sin is demanded that Your Line may Live.
    Only through Fire is Freedom Reborn.”

    Joe Krill

  • Ray January 23, 2018, 4:13 PM

    Keep in mind that the fascists, Nazis and communists were all socialists. They just had some doctrine differences.

  • Vanderleun January 23, 2018, 5:03 PM

    I wrote it, Joe. Thanks for your kind words.

  • EndOfPatience January 23, 2018, 5:05 PM

    Nice poem!

  • Cynyr January 23, 2018, 5:07 PM

    One for the ages. Worthy of Churchill.

  • Sam L. January 23, 2018, 5:39 PM

    Another post that needs annual reposting.
    Well DONE!

  • Fletcher Christian January 23, 2018, 5:42 PM

    Has anyone put that to music yet? I have not even the beginnings of the skill, unfortunately.

  • ghostsniper January 23, 2018, 5:56 PM

    Probably the finest thing I have ever read. Surely in the top 3.
    @Fletcher, I wasn’t 4 lines into it before that occurred to me, and visionist that I am, I couldn’t stop myself from trying to fit note to word. And then tempo.

    “Fire, Steel & Stone”

  • Fletcher Christian January 24, 2018, 12:18 AM

    Ghostsniper: Broken link. Can we try that again? 🙂

  • JoeDaddy January 24, 2018, 3:17 AM


  • hallyk January 24, 2018, 4:39 AM

    I’m glad knew you wrote it with the first verse!!

  • ghostsniper January 24, 2018, 4:42 AM

    @Fletcher, no link. Just playing with a title.
    I liked Rob’s suggestion of it carved in marble, and my idea of the year it was written in Roman numerals. With a hand and big hammer like at the end of them TV shows long ago. Like I said, I’m visual. Maybe some blast furnace flames in the background, flowing molten iron in the foreground, and the tattered flag in the breeze off to the right. (Trump’s Hammer?)

    Maybe it starts off as an acoustical ballad and some electric draws in at the end of each verse, then the balance shifts as the song moves along to more, and faster electric, til the very end has an 8 minute blinding outro with dual electrics trading back n forth and then perhaps a few lines of slower acoustic to top it all off.

  • Casey Klahn January 24, 2018, 6:31 AM

    Who are the Fascists?

  • Jaynie January 24, 2018, 7:31 AM

    Very moving, chilling. As I am one who fears war, it gets me the frivolity with which the left tears at the society and culture. These are the edifices that keep our people safe. Civilization needs nuturing inputs to survive let alone flourish. But ours gets shrill accusations. Attacked and hewn at as if it is not able to be broken, our civilization grows weary.

    The lie behind leftism is the belief that one can create by tearing down.

    A most amazing poem. Fantastic work. I too was curious as to its author as it seemed to be from an earlier time and of a more educated time. Well done.

  • ghostsniper January 24, 2018, 9:00 AM

    “As I am one who fears war…”

    “Reforger” was at the time the largest global combined military exercise in the world and it was conducted yearly in Europe with hundreds of thousands of soldiers involved. I did 3 Reforgers, ’75, ’76 & ’77. ’75 I did on crutches. Yep, at “Cold Steel” country, Wildflecken, Germany, EVERYBODY went to the field, no exceptions. Ever.

    Reforger ’76 (1976), my company had been in convoy to the CP site and when we got there the vehicles started peeling off in different directions in accordance to how we would finally be placed. My truck, with 54th Engr Bn., Delta Co., 1st Plt., 1st Sq., soldiers and equipment on-board and pulling a 5 ton demolition trailer, had stopped and everybody was downloading. Suddenly a Jeep with 2 NCO’s on board wearing light blue helmets (umpires) pulled up and had words with the El-Tee, Lt. Swensen the Platoon Leader. After the Jeep left Platoon Sargent SFC Conyers assembled a formation and put out the word that all of us, all 40 of us soldiers, and apparently all 200 soldiers in the entire company, were DEAD. No details were given. So we were told to standby and wait for further orders. So we stood around for a couple hours and some of us talked about the many ways in which we might have been killed. Because of the difficult location we were in we figured we were taken out by an airstrike. They happen that quick, in the blink of an eye, and nobody ever knows what hit em.

    While we were trained in taking out aircraft with small arms fire this will only work in flat, vacant areas. We were in dense forest.

    Ever heard F4F Phantoms at full speed tree top level? You don’t hear them. Silent death. Until after they pass overhead. If you do hear F4’s after a strike then you either got very lucky or you are in pieces and burning and on your way to the here after. Yeah, when you stop and think about it, scary.

    We was brash, full of vinegar, and in their faces, and fear was not on duty in those times.
    But we were new and we hadn’t been to war. Just exercises, with no consequences. But our time was coming….

  • Jack January 24, 2018, 9:19 AM

    I typically eschew poetry like I do beets but this poem is epic. I love it and I would gladly take up my AR to work on the problem. Perhaps one day I shall have the chance.

  • Vanderleun January 24, 2018, 10:40 AM

    My thanks to all. I am moved.

  • Jim in Alaska January 24, 2018, 12:34 PM

    I was going to go into a long rant and a reminisce ’bout reading at Les Deux Magots (No, not that one, the other one in East Village ‘bove Tompkins Square.) & cellar parties & hearing some youngster with a guitar and harmonica singing about rain falling & how, now, music lasts past the day and the word alone is passé but

    What I want to say is Only By Fire should reach a larger audience & if it had music behind it & an anime wrapped around it & it were posted on youtube, it just might make a few new generations think, at least a little.

    Just sayin’.

  • Casey Klahn January 24, 2018, 12:40 PM

    My compliments, GvD. Evocative wordsmithing.

  • ghostsniper January 24, 2018, 12:56 PM

    “…as to its author as it seemed to be from an earlier time and of a more educated time. ”

    It was, and is.
    See what kind of wisdom can be imparted in almost 3/4 of a century?
    Contrast to those 1/3 the age and 1/10 the wisdom….mere children, in thought and behavior.

  • Mark Allinson January 24, 2018, 9:24 PM

    This reminds me of these lines from Donne’s Metempsychosis:

    Arguing is heretiques game, and Exercise
    As wrastlers, perfects them; Not liberties
    Of speech, but silence; hands, not tongues, end heresies

  • captflee June 1, 2020, 4:33 PM

    Very good, indeed! Was this forged in the immediate aftermath of that mournfully epoch-changing late summer day? I would swear that I can feel the heat in the blood, that atavistic cry for vengeance that one experiences when the wounds are fresh, though I have read enough of your work to have seen at work your wondrous palette of skills that transmutes raw passion to high art to not be shocked to discover that you had just finished burnishing those powerful words yesterday. WOW!

    Ah, Reforger… alas, my time on the Fast Sealift Ships was after the demise of that exercise. Bayonne to Brussels in four days and change, laden with tanks, trucks, choppers, would have been fun.

    I suspect that most folks never get to experience in person a high performance aircraft overflying them in nap of the earth mode; it’s long been a game for brown shoe flyers to stage simulated attacks on naval auxiliaries, usually sneaking up from behind, down on the deck, and where possible in excess of Mach 1 so that the unwary are BOOM BOOMed into more alert watchkeeping.

  • Terry June 1, 2020, 5:31 PM

    I was quite convinced Gerard was the author by the third or fourth verse. I cannot pinpoint my reasoning for coming to this conclusion. There is a very unique style to Gerard’s writing indeed. Much to my enjoyment.

  • ghostsniper June 1, 2020, 7:07 PM

    Cap’n, I’m about 15 miles southwest of Camp Atterbury and 2 nights ago, just after dark, 2 C130 Spookies went over very low. It was glorious. The cats were terrified, the mutt was trying to make a new back in my desk. But I stood in the dark driveway and stared. Couple months ago 3 F15’s with their raspy gurgle went over in broad daylight. Man I could watch that shit forever.

  • BlogDog June 1, 2020, 11:55 PM

    Of a piece with “The Gods of the Copybook Headings.” Greater praise I can not offer.

  • John Venlet June 2, 2020, 6:12 AM

    Year upon year in Earth’s darker forests,
    Heaped at the foot of the trees,
    Dry heaps of wood rot and leaf fall increase
    Which sunlight shall never seize.”

    Over the past three days, I spent hours sitting in exactly the type of forest Gerard so aptly crafted in the above words, though a primeval trout stream was carving its serpentine course through its environs, and I return home to, not fascists burning, but fascists burning America down, seemingly unimpeded, though pockets of exceptions are noted. Whispers of the fascists actions did reach me, as I sat in the forest, so even though the sunlight never seizes the forest, knowledge of the encouraged evil afflicting American cities seeps in to even the most natural of nature’s bounty. America’s currently low key civil war is heating up. How hot will it get?

    Captflee and Ghostsniper – My little trout camp is well within range of Camp Grayling. We quite frequently have A10s flying in the manner described by the Capt overhead, some flying so low over my crick that I could wave to them. Often, too, we hear, and feel, the dropping of 500 pounders on the range, and that oh so distinctive sound of the fifties ripping the night. This week, Camp Grayling has rather involved flying exercises scheduled. It’s a shame I’ve had to return to my city home in case our low key civil war becomes a conflagration, though I have no compunction about seeing fascists burn. Better fascists, than a forest.

  • jd June 2, 2020, 6:39 AM

    As I’ve thought and said before, you have a gift; we are
    fortunate to share in its unwrapping.

  • bfwebster June 2, 2020, 7:59 AM

    One of my favorite pieces of your writing. History teaches some hard truths, and this is one of them.

  • Vanderleun June 2, 2020, 1:29 PM

    The poem was first written in September 2004 when beheading was in flower. Found it here at the old American Digest:

    Only By Fire Is Fascism Finished @ AMERICAN DIGEST September 20, 2004

    ” The victim gasped loudly as blood poured from his neck. His killer held up the head at one point, and placed it on top of the body. ” — The killing of Eugene Armstrong

  • Gordon Scott November 2, 2020, 2:12 AM

    This would have been in 1982, at RAF Alconbury. Me and another guy had been relieved from our duty in the command post. We were walking back to the barracks, but still in the “active” part of the base. It was about 1 a.m. The sirens went off, meaning incoming attack. We looked at each other. We were about 200 yards from the imaginary line that separated the active part of the base, for the exercise, and the non-active, meaning if we were over there we could ignore it.

    We both grabbed our chemwar masks and put them on, sealed them, checked each other to be sure the straps were done right. We ran over to a berm of dirt that surrounded the underground fuel storage. It was the only thing close by that offered any cover at all. About 15 seconds after we were crouching by the berm, an RAF Lightning fighter went overhead, about 150 feet above us, at a very high speed.

    WHAM! Not a sonic boom but a very physical body slam. We heard a practice munition go off somewhere on the flight line. We had been bombed, but the bomb wasn’t near us, so we hustled over to the line, and then we were back in the regular world.

    My day job then involved me sitting in a little tower on the flight line, about 75 yards from the runway. I watched fighters take off all day, in afterburner, and others doing low practice approaches right past me. Nothing I saw on the flight line hit me like that Lightning going past, at speed. It was like, “Dang, this war shit could be rough . . . .”

  • Bill in Tennessee November 2, 2020, 6:16 AM

    As eloquent as ever, Gerard. Thank you for this, it puts into words many things I have been mulling over lately, as we drift (or are pushed) toward some Great Reckoning that this age was destined for. I will be 74 this month, and have lived a good and full life; but part of that life was a stint in the USMC where they took my modest country-boy shooting skills and honed them into something more lethal. If the fascist agenda comes to my little neck of the woods, I will embrace what I have to do and will not shirk from it. Fortunately, I live in a very red area with like-minded neighbors.

    If I were a normal, easy-going and forgiving American, I would not wish anything bad to happen to these intellectual children who *THINK* they want a war with us….but in truth, I hold no pity for them. They have been the beneficiaries of generations of sacrifice and live lives of plenty that people in other parts of the world cannot even conceive of. And they want to tear all of this down?

    Not on my watch. And as many others have said before me, my oath to defend the Constitution, taken in 1964, had no expiration date.

  • Terry November 2, 2020, 7:27 AM

    AD being my home page, I was wondering what Gerard would post this morning. The re-posting of this super poem was a perfect example of why I made AD my home page years ago.

    Lets us never forget, “The killing of Eugene Armstrong” and all the other Patriots who fell at the hands of our enemies. The enemy is vicious and will only be stopped by you and me and our sons and daughters by the sword.

    Thank you Gerard

  • Graham November 2, 2020, 12:34 PM

    “O, for a muse of fire.” You Gerard are our muse of fire and we, band of brothers and sisters, are profoundly grateful. “Each generation pulls the Sword from the Stone” indeed. Who among us is to be the King Arthur for this time as Churchill was in his?

  • DeeDee November 2, 2020, 8:29 PM

    I knew Gerard was the author – I recognized his voice in the words and tone and cadence. Deep piece of work.

    Another clue…the poem wasn’t signed😉

  • Glenfilthie November 3, 2020, 5:50 AM

    Why is it that you guys have to keep digging up Hitler and trying to scare each other with his corpse?
    FFS – there hadn’t been a real fascist in America for decades, outside the odd LARPing lunatic. Read a history book and get a grip.

    Stalin killed a couple million more people than Hitler did. Mao Tse Dong killed tens of millions more. The carnage is still going on in half a dozen shithole countries today like Venezuela. And while you lot tell each other ghost stories and invoke Old Nasty for dramatic effect… the local college is cranking out socialist morons like sausages.

    You guys *might* want to pull your heads out of your own assholes before the socialists set your country on fire.

  • Jack November 3, 2020, 7:23 AM

    I’m with you, Bill in TN. I never renounced my 1970 oath and I think about it often. I have always been a sinner but I know right from wrong and that oath is as dear to my heart as my country and those I love and have lived to provide for and to protect. It is one I will never shirk or compromise.

    Like you, I don’t want to have to act but even at 70, if the need arises, I will and I’ve got no problem or issue with doing what needs to be done. None at all.

  • Fletcher Christian November 3, 2020, 9:37 AM


    You would have a good point, if there was any practical difference between fascists and the extreme variety of socialism. Both political philosophies assume the State above all.

  • gwbnyc November 10, 2020, 10:52 AM

    excalibur/“hard belly”

  • Dirk November 6, 2021, 12:38 PM



  • Jewel November 6, 2021, 8:06 PM

    Glenfilthie, we have arrived at fascism. Proceeding to outright communism.

  • Dirk November 6, 2021, 8:45 PM

    Communism, WOW, Jewel, you clearly get it. It’s not been Socialism, Marxism, but straight up communist post stolen election.

    The sooner our side recognizes and address “ Them/Communism” and verbally challenges Them publicly and loudly.

    Its kinda like screaming fire in an elevator. Even the most dedicated communist fear being called a straight up Communist in a crowd.

    They call us racists, check em with taunts of your a communist loudly. Like cockroach’s in the light, they will race for the dark.


  • Mike Austin November 7, 2021, 5:54 AM

    Even in my—sadly—non-poetic mind this is a beautiful and haunting piece of writing.

    The line “Only by Fire is Fascism Finished” is true throughout time and place. Those who hold such power will not give it up willingly. Never, ever. One may as well ask cancer to stop devouring a man and to just go away. No, it must be cut out by a knife. Even surrounding healthy cells must be removed.

    “Fire”—political violence—is a tool. Or better, it is surgery. Some say that violence should be a last resort. They are certainly wrong for the same reason that a man should not wait to go under the knife after his cancer is revealed. To hesitate is to die. Churchill recognized this when in 1919 he said, “We should have strangled the Bolshevik baby in his crib.” One need not be a historian to see how much better off the world would be had Lenin been killed and his frightful experiment ended.

    Hindsight is great, is it not?

  • Jack November 7, 2021, 6:57 AM

    I don’t know much about poetry but I refer from time to time to A. E. Houseman who I consider a fine Poet.

    But this one: ‘Only By Fire is Fascism Finished’ is spectacular and righteous and its memorization should be required.

  • James ONeil November 7, 2021, 8:50 AM

    Still sayin’ what I said back in 2018; Only By Fire should reach a larger audience & if it had music behind it & an anime wrapped around it & it were posted on youtube, it just might make a few new generations think,
    at least a little.

    Just sayin’.

  • brinster July 4, 2022, 2:24 AM

    Gerard, this is one of the many reasons you were brought back from death. You are a gift to those of us who frequent AD. No better writer in the English language exists.

  • jd July 4, 2022, 6:23 AM

    So glad you re-posted this, Gerard. A blessed fourth.

Next post:

Previous post: