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James Jennings: Reign goddess, Peace, throughout eternal years

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

British writers on peace and war

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James Jennings
Ode on the Prospect of Peace

I

What heavenly goddess from yon cloud
Her radiant form begins t’ unshroud;
Whose banners, fair and bright unfurl’d
Revive the bloody-weltering world,
With halcyon days of happiest scope?
‘Tis she – the everlasting Hope!
Who long, by War and Discord’s cohorts driven,
From earth, sought peace and love, and amity in heaven.

II

Lo! too, descending in her train,
Her whom long time the nations sought in vain;
Her whom, long time, each honoured son,
Or ere the work of death begun,
With strong entreaty and with many a year,
By every name to love and friendship dear,
Sought to detain below: but faction loud
And mad Ambition, ‘midst fierce Folly’s crowd,
The gentle accents drowned; then to the car
Of wild Destruction chained the steeds of War,
Whose clattering hoofs flung desolation round,
Whilst Murder laughed at every groan profound.

III

Lo! now she peers above yon darkening cloud!
Hope leads her on! each name of prowess proud:
The stern companions in array
Of bloody War, behold the day
Begins to dawn, whose sun shall rise,
And scatter darkness from the skies.
Behold and tremble, Slaughter rears
His sword aloft; but, filled with fears
To strike delays, whilst from his hand,
As touched by magic’s forceful wand,
Drops the dread weapon, ere the gentle Peace
Can even proclaim that even Havoc’s hands shall cease.

IV

Discord abashed retires, and drops her scroll
Of lies; and Famine pale no more
Shall o’er the dying with sunk eyebrows pore,
Nor smile to hear the cannon’s deaf’ning roll.
Distress looks up, and from the cottage peeps,
Where orphaned infancy still sleeps,
Unconscious of his loss, – The war smoke flies,
And beams of gladness streak the azure skies: –
The mother’s heart beats high; – the sorrowing maid
With timid step, by love betrayed,
Midst scenes of horror roved;
A noble form with light steps moves!
‘Tis he, her Hero; far away he throws
His sword: for gone are all their woes.
He clasps her to his breast; the angel’s past
Who vollies in the storm
And Peace appears at last!

V

But Desolation hovers yet around!
Let Moscow tell, or Leipzic’s classic ground,
Whose peaceful halls the muses bless’d,
Where Science many a sage caress’d; –
Let tell Iberia, or those fields
Where Plenty’s stream abundance yields;
Woe stalks abroad; and Hunger nigh
Derides of Want the widow’s sigh!
What hand to heal – what arm to save
The pining wretch beside the grave,
Who asks not, but whose looks impart
Important lessons to the heart?
Yes, there are hands to save – to heal!
The sons of Britain still can feel;
And, midst of war the direful woe,
Their healing streams of charity shall flow.

VI

On thee, O Peace! we call; O deign descend;
And may earth’s sons thy holy cause befriend.
O Hope benign! our wishes aid!
And Justice, be thou nigh?
O bid Persuasion haste the maid
With Mercy from on high.
O Peace! thine altars long destroyed restore!
And bid the mountains leap – the vallies sing!
O wave thy olive branch below once more,
And let the nations willing tribute bring!
Assert thy power! and thy benignant sway
Shall princes, kings, and potentates obey.

VII

Let the harp’s loud lively measure
Lead along the airy dance!
Let the mazy round of pleasure
For awhile the soul entrance!
Be the strain, in echoing numbers,
Wafted down the fruitful dell;
Peace approaching from his slumbers
Rouses Mirth – to Care farewell!
Age may now repeat his story
Underneath the ivied tree;
Let the youth who sighs for glory
Consecrate his heart to thee.
To thee, O Peace, be every blessing,
Love and happiness abound;
Science, Virtue, Truth caressing,
Freedom fair by just laws crowned.

VIII

Behold her tributary deities – the Arts
Lend their conspiring aid, and trophies rear
Of all her conquering power! what time all hearts
Join in the general joy; whilst some appear
To woo the muse of song.
And many a name the stream of time along
Exultant floats; fair Science lends her hand,
And grand improvement scatters through the land
Bridges and roads, canals and lofty domes,
Prompted by patriot wealth, or patriot power;
Commerce the cheerful sailors from their homes
Tempts with rich traffic; riches shower
Their blessings far abroad – the poor no more
Ask alms in vain. The seas and every shore
Free as the winds; no hostile sail is seen,
As gay the vessels glide upon the ocean green.

IX

The sons of genius and of learning look
No more in vain through Nature’s ample book;
Nor from her pages seek delight,
The hidden stores of glory bright,
To guide the sons of man with the meed
Of fostering wealth and high deserving praise;
The inspiring goddess of the poets days;
The fair reward of every patriot deed.
Religion, too, no more shall stand
And shake her fetters to the astonished crowd;
But in Persuasion’s accents loud
Shall lead Benevolence by her right hand.
Nor Superstition her gross chains shall bind
Around the fairest works of heaven – the mind!
For truth’s Ithuriel spear,
Shall, as a wand, the mists of error clear,
And Conscience leap for joy in every land.

X

The sons of Britain and of Gallia meet
No more in hostile strife, but greet
With Cordiality’s warm-shaking hand,
Their long divided hearts, and deep deplore
The havoc Folly broods for evermore;
Whilst young Columbia stretches o’er the seas
The arm of amity; each favouring breeze
Glad accent brings
From many a distant land:
The Austrian, Prussian now look up indeed.
Assembled princes and most potent kings
Welcome the newborn hopes. The nations smile,
And many a heart felt pang the tidings half beguile.

XI

O gladd’ning prospect of the happiest days!
Let Memory consecrate in solemn lays
The past, as lessons dear
Which princes and which people ought revere;
Princes – That justice and the people’s right
Be their sole aim, their every day delight;
The people – that their meal
Is best obtained by steady, temperate zeal;
Nor may foul anarchy intrude,
Lest stern Oppression rouse her ready barking brood.

XII

She hears, nor shall the cannon’s roar
And War’s dread Whoop appal us more;
The angels’ song the vaulted heavens fill,
Sweet peace descends, and in her train Goodwill.
Long may she reign, a grateful world replies,
Sole sovereign here as in her native skies.
Amen, amen echo the whirling spheres,
Reign goddess, Peace, throughout eternal years.

 

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