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John Ruskin: Peace Song

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

John Ruskin
Peace Song (1863)

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Awake! awake! the stars are pale, the east is russet gray;
They fade, behold the phantoms fade, that kept the gates of Day;
Throw wide the burning valves, and let the golden streets be free,
The morning watch is past — the watch of evening shall not be.

Put off, put off your mail, ye kings, and beat your brands to dust:
A surer grasp your hands must know, your hearts a better trust;
Nay, bend aback the lance’s point, and break the helmet bar, —
A noise is on the morning winds, but not the noise of war!

Among the grassy mountain paths the glittering troops increase:
They come! they come! — how fair their feet — they come that publish peace!
Yea, Victory! fair Victory! our enemies’ and ours,
And all the clouds are clasped in light, and all the earth with flowers.

Ah! still depressed and dim with dew, but yet a little while.
And radiant with the deathless rose the wilderness shall smile.
And every tender living thing shall feed by streams of rest,
Nor lamb shall from the fold be lost, nor nursling from the nest.

For aye, the time of wrath is past, and near the time of rest.
And honor binds the brow of man, and faithfulness his breast, —
Behold, the time of wrath is past, and righteousness shall be,
And the Wolf is dead in Arcady, and the Dragon in the sea!

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. ocurrain
    November 9, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    The Louis Aragon phrase tells a story: “Pascal was thrown into the war before he knew what he was about…thinking modern devices made war impossible.” The senselessness of war is pointed out again and again but some blind countervailing forces in the human heart overcomes our sensibilities, especially among those who wield power. The “fog of war” takes over with resentment and repressed hatred being projected onto the so-called “enemy”.

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