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Nathaniel Evans: Ode on the Prospect of Peace


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

American writers on peace and against war


Nathaniel Evans
From Ode on the Prospect of Peace

When elemental conflicts rage,
And heaven is wrapp’d in tempests dire,
When storms with storms dread combat wage,
And thunders roll etherial fire; –
Returning zephyr’s odorous race,
And radiant Sol’s all-cheering face,
The trembling mortals most desire.

When Eurus, charged with livid clouds,
Scours o’er old ocean’s wild domain,
And Boreas rends the vessel’s shrouds,
And o’er her swells the raging main;
If lighter breezes should succeed,
And Iris sweet, of varied hue,
Lift o’er the main her beamy head,
What raptures fill the marine crew!
Thus, when Bellona (ruthless maid!)
Her empire through the world has spread,
And death his flag has proud display’d
O’er legions that in battle bled; –
If peace, bedeck’d with olive robe,
(Resplendent nymph, sweet guest of heaven)
Transfuse her balm around the globe,
A theme of joy to man is given.
Then wake, O muse! thy sweetest lays –
Returning peace demands thy praise;
And while the notes in varied cadence sound,
Eye thou the Theban swan that soars o’er heav’nly ground.

If thou from Albion’s sea-girt shore,
Advent’rous muse, wilt deign to rove,
Inclined remotest realms to explore
And soothe the savage soul to love;
Hither wave thy wandering pinion,
Here be fix’d thy last dominion.
Warbling in ’Sylvania’s grove,
Bright-eyed Euphrosyne! attend.
If genial peace can aught avail,
With all thy graceful charms descend,
And o’er the youthful lyre prevail.
Bounteous peace with lavish hand,
To every shore thy blessings strew,
O veil the blood-polluted land,
And all thy grateful joys renew.
Thy blissful pregnant reign restore,
And calm the breasts of angry kings;
Thy horn of Amalthean store
Ope, and expand thy golden wings;
Till trade secure her treasure beams,
And science reassumes her shades;
Till shepherds quaff untainted streams,
And hinds enjoy their native glades;
Till the glad muses strike the lyre,
And virtuous social deeds inspire;
Till the loud drum no more shall bid to arms prepare,
Nor brazen trumpets breathe the horrid din of war.

Auspicious power, whose salutary ray
Form’d this new world, and rear’d her infant fame,
Extend anew thy mitigating sway,
And quell the hero’s battle-breathing flame.
Ye fragrant myrtles, ope your peaceful bowers,
And charm the warrior with your pleasing scenes,
Shield him with woodbine’s aromatic flowers,
And for his sopha spread your velvet greens.
For him the flute mellifluous shall blow
In Lydian music, sounding soft and low,
And blooming beauty, with attractive art,
Shall sweetly melt the tumults of his heart;
The nectar’d bowl, with rosy garlands twined,
Shall waft his sorrows to the vagrant wind,
While the victorious laurel of renown,
In verdant wreaths his manly brows shall crown.

Too long has war’s terrific train,
(The barbed spear and reeking blade)
Made nations rue their chieftains slain,
And sanguined every muse’s shade.
From distant Volga’s rapid floods,
To Canada’s high towering woods,
Has the deadly cannon bray’d.
From whence the effulgent god of day
Impearls Arabia’s spicy fields,
To where his setting lustres play –


Descend then, Peace, angelic maid,
And smooth Bellona’s haggard brow;
Haste to diffuse thy healing aid,
Where’er implored by scenes of woe.
Henceforth, whoe’er disturbs thy reign,
Or stains the world with human gore,
Be they from earth (a gloomy train!)
Banish’d to hell’s profoundest shore;
Where vengeance, on Avernus’ lake,
Rages, with furious Até bound;
And black rebellion’s fetters shake,
And discord’s hideous murmurs sound;
Where envy’s noxious snakes entwine
Her temples round, in gorgon mood,
And bellowing faction rolls supine
Along the flame-becurled flood! –
Hence, then, to that accursed place,
Disturbers of the human race!
And with you bear ambition wild, and selfish pride,
With persecution foul, and terror by her side.

Thus driven from earth war’s horrid train –
O Peace, thou nymph divine, draw near!


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