Home > Uncategorized > H. Lavinia Baily: By the Sea. An Argument for Peace.

H. Lavinia Baily: By the Sea. An Argument for Peace.

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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

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H. Lavinia Baily
By the Sea
An Argument for Peace

“You do but dream; the world will never see
Such time as this you picture, when the sword
Shall lie inglorious in its sheath, and be
No more of valorous deeds incentive or reward.”

The ocean breezes fanned them where they sat,
At leisure from life’s conflict, toil and care,
Yet not unthoughtful, nor unmindful that
In all its weal and woe they held their share.

The rose-light charm and pride of earliest youth
A chastening touch had toned to lovelier hue,
And the white soul of purity and truth
Looked out alike from eyes of brown and blue.

“I covet your fair hope,” he spake again,
“I cannot share it; all the hoary past
Denies that mightier prowess of the pen
The poet claims, and proves it still surpassed.

“By sword and musket and the arts of war.
And ’twere not so, – the query will return,
Albeit such conflict we must all abhor –
How should the fires of patriotism burn?

“Their flames are kindled by the flash of arms,
And fed by recount of heroic deed;
The sanguinary story has its charms
Tho the heart sicken o’er it as we read.

“And what were Greece without her Marathon?
Or Rome, had not her Caesars fought and won?
How reigns Britannia, Empress near and far,
But for her Waterloo and Trafalgar?

“And we, know not our souls a quickening thrill
At thought of Lexington and Bunker Hill?
And with a pride no rival passion mars
Greet we not now our glorious Stripes and Stars?

“Yes, friend, I own your theory is fine;
I grant your outlook far exceedeth mine
In excellence and beauty, in its scope
Embracing that millennial age of bliss.
The spirit pants for while it chafes in this;
I covet, tho I cannot share, your hope.”

“My hope,” she answered, smiling, “is a faith;
The kingdoms of this world are yet to be.
The kingdoms of our blessed Lord, the Christ; –
Lord of all life thro’ dire and vengeful death –
Wrought thro’ such sacrifice, unspared, unpriced,
His word and purpose must fulfilment see,
And realms by mountains bounded or by seas
Must own allegiance to the Prince of Peace.

“I yield to none” – and as she spoke there sped
Across the opal beauty of the sea
A light-winged vessel, bearing at its head
The starry emblem of the brave and free –

“I yield to none in loyalty and love
For yon bright banner, but I hold it still
As token to the world, all else above,
Of peace on earth and unto man good will.”

“God gave His land to be the home of man;
And all that brightens and upbuilds the home
Uplifts humanity; tramp, tribe and clan,
Knowing no hearthstone, are content to roam,

“But drawing nearer God the man returns
And rears his household altar. In some quest
The feet may wander, but the heart still yearns
For the soft home-light and the quiet rest.

“Think yet again, good brother, is it not
From off such altar, whether it may glow
In princely palace or in lowliest cot,
That the true flame of country-love must flow?
While that enkindled by the flash of arms
Is a ‘strange fire,’ consuming while it charms.

“Lives Greece less nobly in her Parthenon,
In what her Solons wrote, her poets sang,
Than in the gastly pride of Marathon,
And kindred fields where victors’ praises rang?

“And we, enriched thro’ Commerce, Letters, Art,
Forgot our earlier grievances and scars,
Are we not ready for a better part?
Have we not now outgrown our need of wars?

“Surely it should be so,” he made reply;
“The sated earth cries out against the flow
Of human blood: ‘How long? how long?’ The cry
Must pierce the heavens from writhing hearts below.

“But men heed not; the glamor and the gain
Of warfare blind them to its sin and pain;
They know not pity and they count not cost
Till armies meet and life and cause are lost.

“Would they but listen ’twere an errand blest
To plead against oppressor for oppressed;
Would they but follow it were joy indeed
Up the white hills of truth and peace to lead.

“But, ah! the multitudes are gone astray,
The powerful of the earth will have their way;
What profit, sister, in our prayers and tears?
Why mar the spring-time gladness of our years

“In vain pursuit of universal good?
In fruitless care for earth’s vast brotherhood?
Glad would I grasp such work could I but see.
Or near, or far, your hoped-for victory.”

“Whether they hear,” she answered, “or forbear,
‘Tis ours with signal truths to light the skies;
God’s promises and warnings to declare; –
How can men follow if no leader rise?

“The Christ shall be the victor; O my friend,
Why do we limit His almighty power
Who sees from far beginning to the end?
Whose day may be an æon or an hour?

“The sea is His; He made it; and His word
Can speak its wildest tumult into calm;
As He may will its deepest founts are stirred,
Or surface-ripples breathe a praiseful psalm.

“As well His power the rise and fall doth sway
Of human passion, tho He suffer long;
The puny pride of man shall yet obey
The mandate of the Only Wise and Strong.

“But God would have the children of His grace
In this great reclamation have a share;
And each in his appointed hour and place
Must stand, or other brow his crown will wear.”

She paused, and o’er them, as with magic spell,
For a brief space a holy silence fell;
Then while the sunset crimson of the sky
Set ocean all a-blush, he made reply:

“Reason and candor justify your claim;
The Infinite is infinite in all;
The Power that touches into life that flame
Holds earth and heaven subject to His call,
And at His fiat peoples rise and fall.

“Your dauntless zeal doth shame my coward heart;
Your word of faith my courage doth inspire;
I see ’tis only noble to have part
In moral contest; not to fan the fire
Of a false glory, which must ever feed
On souls that perish, and on hearts that bleed.

“And this I gather from your earnest plea; –
That souls which walk in light and see the way
To heights of truth yet unattained, must be
Fore-runners for their Lord, must work and pray
For the incoming of the perfect day.

“Join we in this sweet service; cherish still
The trust that gives you courage for the fight;
Your ‘peaceful war’ on all that’s base and ill,
Your patient battle for the pure, the right.
Let us press on and mount the hills of light.”

The ocean murmur fell upon their ears
Sweeter than bird-song or the voice of mirth,
As beamed her answering smile, thro’ grateful tears,
While her lips whispered only “Peace on earth.”

“Peace! peace!” – the evening zephyrs caught the strain,
The wavelets sent the word across the sea;
Exultant Nature trilled the glad refrain; –
“Peace! peace! The Christ is come, and peace shall be!”

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Myself and You

There are only myself and you in the world,
There are only myself and you;
‘Tis clear, then, that I unto you should be kind,
And that you unto me should be true.

And if I unto you could be always kind,
And you unto me could be true,
Then the criminal courts might all be adjourned,
And the sword would have nothing to do.

A few fertile acres are all that I need, –
Not more than a hundred or two, –
And the great, wide earth holds enough, I am sure,
Enough for myself and for you.

The sweet air of heaven is free to us all;
Upon all fall the rain and the dew;
And the glorious sun in his cycle of light
Shines alike on myself and on you.

The infinite love is as broad as the sky,
And as deep as the ocean’s blue,
We may breathe it, bathe in it, live in it, aye,
It is life for myself and for you.

And the Christ who came when the angels sang
Will come, if the song we renew,
And reign in his kingdom, – the Prince of Peace, –
Reigning over myself and you.

O, then, may I be unto you always kind,
And be you unto me always true;
So the land may rest from its turmoil and strife,
And the sword may have nothing to do.

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