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Henry Jones: Bid discord cease, and open wide the gates of peace

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

British writers on peace and war

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Henry Jones
The Royal Vision: In an Ode to Peace

The mighty God of armies bows his ear
To wailing mankind’s moan,
The Lord of Hosts from heav’n looks down,
No more with awful eye severe;
He hears the bleeding nations groan,
He sees the vanquish’d fall, the victor frown;
He turns aside his face
By pity touch’d and godlike grace:
He calls BRITANNIA’s guardian angel loud,
Go, quell the sanguine, and assuage the proud:
Thy glorious lot on yonder orb below
That globe shall rule, my laurel there shall grow;
Arrest the rapid bolt, beat down the mortal steel,
For man laid waste my tender mercies feel.
He said, and pointed to the bless’d around
The gasping soldier, and the gushing wound,
With human nature fainting on the ground.
The bless’d themselves seem’d sad that space,
And begg’d that mankind might have peace.
Go forth, my strength, thy mighty wings outspread,
Yon crimson guilty banners tread,
Beneath the foot of peace, he said;
And sheath, oh! sheath the murd’rous sword;
This olive from thy radiant wing
(That near my mercy-seat still grows)
In GEORGE’s breast make joyful spring,
And with it wast my world creating word:
Let famine, pestilence and slaughter cease,
‘Tis my command, give weeping EUROPE peace,
And let her angry kings no more be foes.
With loud hosannas heav’ns eternal concave rung,
And halleluiahs to the God of peace were sung.
Th’ obedient angel cleaves th’ ethereal skies,
To GEORGE’s downy pillow straight he flies,
When balmy slumbers closed his happy eyes,
And on the organs of his fancy wrought,
The inmost fibres of his feeling heart;
With mystic sketch divine, angelic trace,
Before his melting mental eye he spread
The sick, the wounded, dying, and the dead:
The burning city sack’d, the raging battle fought,
In hideous groupes by form creating art;
With all the barb’rous mischiefs that deface
The works of God, since CAIN his brother slew,
He placed before his visionary view:
The infant sprawling on the soldier’s spear,
Or clinging to the murther’d mother’s breast,
Whose face retains a tenderness in death,
What heart of flesh a sight like this can bear?
See, for her babe she looks, ev’n now distress’d!
Her swelling sorrows seem to give her breath,
How agonizing fear her features fix
Lest with her flowing blood her milk should mix!
The venerable sire, see, by the hoary hairs,
Athwart the pavement dragg’d, that floats in blood,
The dagger through the matrons bosom thrust,
Who, ‘twixt the murd’rer and her husband, stood;
The screaming daughter mad her tresses tears,
When ravish’d at her gasping mother’s feet,
Whilst fury, blood, and lust
Polute each guilty street:
As if some fiend had snatch’d the love of kind,
And hell itself was lodg’d within the human mind:
There mines, and caves of death, their entrails burst
At one infernal blast, one horrid blow accurst:
See limbs and heads of men, and bodies fly
Like whirling feathers, scatter’d thro’ the frighted sky!
There wrapt in smoke, in sulphur, stench, and fire,
Whole armies in th’ astonish’d air expire!
But those, alas! are scenes of single woe,
Behold vast empires fall, at one destructive blow
The king lamented inly as he slept,
With tender throbs, for murder’d mankind wept;
When straight before his eye the angel plac’d
Those human fiends that lay all nature waste:
Ambition in the guilty front was there,
Who tortures heav’n and earth, and sea and air;
And tyranny with smiling frown,
Whose iron rod seems deck’d in down;
Discord in human gore deep dy’d,
With fire and water at her side;
Her hostile visage with itself at war,
Inverted eyes that glare, and horrid brows that jar:
And bigotry in meek disguise,
With dagger’d hand, and upcast eyes;
And envy, daughter of despair,
With palid lip, and ghastly air,
Who copies from tormented fiends her face,
The pest of hell, and bane of human race:
And pride, that parent of th’ infernal crew,
With haughty eye askance, and sanguine hue:
All these were martial’d in their dread array,
And horrid attributes before his eye,
The monarch startled, as in sleep he lay;
And from his inmost soul upheav’d a sigh.
The angel now with pow’r serene,
All gracious chang’d the horrid scene;
A milder vision gently drew,
The kings of EUROPE in his view,
With lifted hands and bended knees
Imploring peace, he pitying sees;
The christian virtues all around
Were kneeling near him on the ground:
Religion mounted mild, up to her sacred place,
Sublime she rose, awful, with heav’nly grace,
(That white-rob’d queen of sweet command,)
Still near his best-lov’d throne, and heart would stand:
The cross erect in one seraphic hand,
She held before the royal eye,
His love immense, that would for mankind die:
A precious crown, by purest virtue won,
Richer than rubies, brighter than the sun;
Where twice ten thousand various gems unite
Their trembling rays, in one celestial light
Her other hand divine holds up to view:
The horrid vices dazzled at the glorious sight
Sunk down at once to hell’s eternal night;
Whilst ravag’d realms, and sea, and air, look new.
Bid mankind smile whom heav’n ordains
To bind EUROPA’s bleeding veins,
Religion said; bid discord cease,
And open wide the gates of peace:
Call back that precious dove, my son proceed,
Compleat the god like work, behold thy glorious meed!
With seraphs thron’d thy diadem shall shine,
This crown to all eternity is thine:
Let christian kings in christian leagues agree,
And give the human heart to God and me.
The king bid EUROPE’s prostrate monarchs rise,
Whilst tears of pity from his flowing eyes,
Ran trickling down his crimson cheek,
Religion made him mild and meek,
And half his soul consented;
He bad the weeping world rejoyce,
With intellectual voice,
And ev’ry manly faculty relented:
CAESAR himself might now give o’er;
Conquest has her fill;
A christian monarch should do more,
Forbear the christian blood to spill:
Let glory hide her guilty rays,
Be mercy now my highest praise,
Let me my foes forgive;
Arise, ye vanquish’d monarchs, rise and live.
The social angel, when by pity press’d,
That moment lodg’d the heav’nly olive in his breast,
And fill’d his heart with clemency and grace,
The king awoke, he will’d; and all was peace.

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