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Isabella Valancy Crawford: Peace


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

Women writers on peace and war

Isabella Valancy Crawford: The Forging of the Sword

Isabella Valancy Crawford: War


Isabella Valancy Crawford

Peace stands within the city wall;
Most like a god she towers tall,
And bugle-like she cries to all.

In place of sounds of nether hell,
In place of serpent hiss of shell,
Sounds sweet her powerful “All’s well!”

Is she a willow by a stream?
The spirit of a dreamer’s dream?
The pale moon’s meek and phantom beam?

The mere desire of panting soul?
Water, not wine, within the bowl?
Rides she, a ghost, upon the roll

Of spectral seas? Nay, see her rise,
Strong flesh against the flushing skies,
Large calm within her watchful eyes.

The olive darkling o’er her face,
Like one of Caryæ’s sculptured race,
Her arms uphold the nation’s place.

Like ivory beams, her strong white feet
Span over all the busy street;
Beneath their arch the merchants meet.

Her eyes are terrible and pure
As the stern, steadfast cynosure;
Before them bow and bend the poor.

Their thrilling pæans rise to her;
She mothers all the healthy stir
That beats the air with bruit and birr.

Below her feet War’s banners furl,
The bounteous palms about her curl,
Above her head her strong doves whirl.

Her vesture, with giant lilies bound,
Falls like a slant of snow, and round
It whitens all the quiet ground.

Its cloven fringes are of gold;
By her vast calm made brave and bold,
Babes by their summer lightnings hold.

A helmet binds her lofty crest;
Strong scales of steel flash on her vest,
A strong shield on her ample breast.

Armed, armed she stands, from head to heel;
Afar strange navies meet and reel;
Far sounds the furious clash of steel.

Around her sounds the reaper’s song,
Below her moves the busy throng;
So stands she – terrible and strong.

Ardent and awfully, afar
Blazes the blood-red wand’ring star
That rolls before the feet of war;

But wheels not nigh her sentried gate,
Her sinewed battlements that wait
Panting to guard her lofty state.

Her song is mild, but thro’ it still
The blast of bugles, stern and shrill
The calms about her pierce and thrill.

Armed, armed her head, her foot, her breast,
A spear defends her white dove’s nest;
As Peace is strong so is she blest.

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