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Henry Ward: Ode to Peace

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

American writers on peace and against war

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Henry Ward
Ode to Peace (1857)

Oh! gentle peace! thou of the dove-like eye,
Who dwelleth with the Seraphim on high,
Why, with a tearful, and averted glance,
When war, grin, frowning, shakes his glittering lance,
Dost thou, affrighted, turn from earth away,
And cease to hold thy mild, benignant sway
O’er mortals toss’d on passion’s raging tide,
Ambitious fools, the dupes of worldly pride?
It is not strange! with such thou canst not dwell,
Though cloister’d like a hermit in his cell,
Or seated on a tyrant monarch’s throne,
Whose nod is power, whose will is law alone,
Or striding in the gorgeous halls of State
Arouses kindred souls to fierce debate,
Or ‘mid the battering ranks of gleaming steel
Braves death, where lightnings flash, and thunders peel;
Thou canst not dwell with him whose restless soul
Will brook no moderation nor control,
But like the foaming billow of the sea,
Is ever chafing, yet is never free
From wild, tumultuous strife, and storm, and ire,
The victim of ambition’s scathing fire.

But with the pure in heart, the meek, and kind,
Thou lov’st to dwell; and thou for them wilt bind
Thine olive chaplet with unfading flowers,
And through the calm, delightful sunny hours
With fan them with thy downy rainbow wings,
And lead them where contentment ever springs,
And tranquil joy, and smiling bliss preside,
Where heavenly wisdom’s footsteps ever guide!
It is the will of Heaven that thou shouldst reign,
And claim the earth as thine – thy just domain;
For when the angel herald of the sky
Announced Messiah’s glorious reign as nigh,
The sweetest notes that Seraph ever sang
O’er yon celestial spheres melodious rang,
“Peace! peace on earth; good will to erring man!”
O’er all the stars the joyful tidings ran;
The countless planets heard the rapturous sound,
And moved in harmony; bright glory crowned
The universe, with light, and life, and love,
Like one vast ocean flowing from above.
Then come, oh! dove-like Peace! and here remain,
Till all mankind shall own thy gentle reign!

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