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Jessie Wiseman Gibbs: The blessed salve of peace for the whole bleeding world


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

American writers on peace and against war

Women writers on peace and war

Jessie Wiseman Gibbs: Selections from the Peace Sonnets


Jessie Wiseman Gibbs
From Peace Sonnets

This war is from beneath and from above,
Not of the nations, only, but that same
Old conflict of the Beast, whose other name
Is Self, and of the Christ, whose name is Love;
And men and nations are the spoil thereof;
For the Beast comes to kill and steal and maim,
And Christ to heal, to ransom and reclaim,
And men in ranks of each have ever strove.

It is the last fierce onslaught of the Beast,
For now the world sees his jaws drip with slime
Of its heart’s blood, and feels his talons tear
Its vitals, and its miseries increased
Past suffering, till turning to Christ’s care,
It trust his saying banners for all time.

Build no more ships of war, my Land, no more:
For we must fight upon Christ’s side in this
Great strife; but if we cower ‘neath guns that hiss
With fires of Hell, and trust its cannon’s roar,
We take the arch-fiend for our commodore,
And are already lost, and shall not miss
To be dragged down by him to the abyss
Wherein the nations perish at our door.

Heed not thy lying prophets, who are of
This world; have faith in God, and thou shalt build
Ships of salvation, and they shall be filled
With armies of the blood-red cross of love,
And thou shalt send them east and west, to win
Christ’s peaceful victories o’er death and sin.

We can perceive, at last, the world is one,
And we shall save ourselves when we have saved
The nations, and the way to life is paved
Through travail and through sacrifice, and none
Shall see God’s great salvation ’neath the sun,
Save in Christ’s dauntless spirit, that once craved
To give men life, and through the unseen braved
The fear of death, and life immortal won.

Choose, then, my Land, if thou wilt bear his cross
And live, or bear the sword and die. With Christ
We suffer, but we reign for evermore;
With Satan we shall surely suffer sore
And miserably pass from loss to loss
And perish with all nations he enticed.

‘Tis well we should sit down and count the cost,
If we be able, with our paltry ten
Thousand, to go against a force of men
That number twenty thousand in their host;
So, if we see no hope, ere they have crossed
Our borders, we may send with haste to ken
The grim conditions whereon we again
May live a little while, ere all be lost.

Sure we can never do it in the might
Or power of our own hands, but by the Son
O God, and by his Spirit, if we have
But faith, the battle is already won,
And the great prize, which is the blessed salve
Of peace for the whole bleeding world, in sight.

If we must die (for life is not more dear
Than our most holy cause ) then let us die
For Heaven, not for Hell, truth, not a lie,
And fall into God’s arms, who shall appear
To raise us from the dead. Yea, let our seer
See God, and let him pray, till we descry
Those chariots and those horsemen of the sky
Who are our only hope, and our last fear.

I know a warfare calls for lives and blood,
Whose soldiers bear no weapon, but the cross,
And think him braver who with ardor high
Goes forth therein than regiments that toss
Their lives to the grim chance of guns. O God,
In that dear warfare let me fight and die!

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