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Oliver Wendell Holmes: Hymn to Peace

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Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

American writers on peace and against war

Oliver Wendell Holmes: Not so enamored of the drum and trumpet

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Oliver Wendell Holmes
Hymn to Peace (1869)

[The author was a fervent war supporter four years prior to writing this, but the sentiment expressed in the verses is valid notwithstanding.]

Angel of Peace, thou hast wandered too long!
Spread thy white wings to the sunshine of love!
Come while our voices are blended in song, —
Fly to our ark like the storm-beaten dove!
Fly to our ark on the wings of the dove, —
Speed o’er the far-sounding billows of song,
Crowned with thine olive-leaf garland of love, —
Angel of Peace, thou hast waited too long!

Joyous we meet, on this altar of thine
Mingling the gifts we have gathered for thee,
Sweet with the odors of myrtle and pine,
Breeze of the prairie and breath of the sea, —
Meadow and mountain and forest and sea!
Sweet is the fragrance of myrtle and pine,
Sweeter the incense we offer to thee,
Brothers once more round this altar of thine!

Angels of Bethlehem, answer the strain!
Hark! a new birth-song is filling the sky! —
Loud as the storm-wind that tumbles the main
Bid the full breath of the organ reply, —
Let the loud tempest of voices reply, —
Roll its long surge like the-earth-shaking main!
Swell the vast song till it mounts to the sky!
Angels of Bethlehem, echo the strain!

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