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Felicia Hemans: A thousand voices echo “Peace!”

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

British writers on peace and war

Felicia Hemans: Selections on peace and war

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Felicia Hemans

From Modern Greece

How oft hath war his host of spoilers poured,
Fair Elis! o’er thy consecrated vales?
There have the sunbeams glanced on spear and sword.
And banners floated on the balmy gales.

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From Night-Scene in Genoa
From Sismondi’s “Republiques Italiennes”

Once uttered, and for ever sealed –
I summon thee, O child of clay!
To cast thy darker thoughts away,
And meet thy foes in peace and love,
As thou wouldst join the blest above.”

Still as he speaks, unwonted feeling
Is o’er the chieftain’s bosom stealing;
Oh I not in vain the pleading cries
Of anxious thousands round him rise ;
He yields –  devotion’s mingled sense
Of faith and fear, and penitence.
Pervading all his soul, he bows
To offer on the cross his vows,
And that best incense to the skies,
Each evil passion’s sacrifice.

Then tears from warriors’ eyes were flowing.
High hearts with soft emotions glowing;
Stern foes as long-loved brothers greeting,
And ardent throngs in transport meeting;
And eager footsteps forward pressing,
And accents loud in joyous blessing;
And when their first wild tumults cease,
A thousand voices echo “Peace!”

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From The Sceptic

When from Thy justice to Thy love we fly,
On Nature’s conflict look with pitying eye,
Bid the strong wind, the fire, the earthquake cease,
Come in the small still voice, and whisper – Peace !

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From Dartmouth

Shall the free soul of song bow down to pay
The earthquake homage on its baleful way?
Shall the glad harp send up exulting strains
O’er burning cities and forsaken plains?
And shall no harmony of softer close.
Attend the stream of mercy as it flows,
And, mingling with the murmur of its wave,
Bless the green shores its gentle currents lave?

Oh! there are loftier themes, for him, whose eyes
Have searched the depths of life’s realities,
Than the red battle, or the trophied car.
Wheeling the monarch-victor fast and far;
There are more noble strains than those which swell
The triumphs Ruin may suffice to tell!

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