John Greenleaf Whittier: If this be Peace, pray what is War?
John Greenleaf Whittier
The Peace Of Europe (1852)
“Great peace in Europe! Order reigns
From Tiber’s hills to Danube’s plains!”
So say her kings and priests; so say
The lying prophets of our day.
Go lay to earth a listening ear;
The tramp of measured marches hear;
The rolling of the cannon’s wheel,
The shotted musket’s murderous peal,
The night alarm, the sentry’s call,
The quick-eared spy in hut and hall!
From Polar sea and tropic fen
The dying-groans of exiled men!
The bolted cell, the galley’s chains,
The scaffold smoking with its stains!
Order, the hush of brooding slaves
Peace, in the dungeon-vaults and graves!
O Fisher! of the world-wide net,
With meshes in all waters set,
Whose fabled keys of heaven and hell
Bolt hard the patriot’s prison-cell,
And open wide the banquet-hall,
Where kings and priests hold carnival!
Weak vassal tricked in royal guise,
Boy Kaiser with thy lip of lies;
Base gambler for Napoleon’s crown,
Barnacle on his dead renown!
Thou, Bourbon Neapolitan,
Crowned scandal, loathed of God and man
And thou, fell Spider of the North!
Stretching thy giant feelers forth,
Within whose web the freedom dies
Of nations eaten up like flies!
Speak, Prince and Kaiser, Priest and Czar
If this be Peace, pray what is War?
White Angel of the Lord! unmeet
That soil accursed for thy pure feet.
Never in Slavery’s desert flows
The fountain of thy charmed repose;
No tyrant’s hand thy chaplet weaves
Of lilies and of olive-leaves;
Not with the wicked shalt thou dwell,
Thus saith the Eternal Oracle;
Thy home is with the pure and free!
Stern herald of thy better day,
Before thee, to prepare thy way,
The Baptist Shade of Liberty,
Gray, scarred and hairy-robed, must press
With bleeding feet the wilderness!
Oh that its voice might pierce the ear
Of princes, trembling while they hear
A cry as of the Hebrew seer
Repent! God’s kingdom draweth near!