Sonnet VI: The Peace Prayer

She sang her hymn before her eyes had seen
The glory of the coming of the Lord,
The blood and death of mortar, gun, and sword,
And brother killing brother long had been.

Then callow-sang of peace, with freedom won,
To eager faces, white and brown… and black,
Whose liberty had just been gifted back
Still soaked with blood by mortar, sword, and gun.

Imagine men had heard that hymn four score
And seven years of blood and death before,
Heard next her callow, pacifist’s decree,
Laid down their arms to study war no more:

With shackled peace from sea to shining sea,
What hue would now such eager faces be?

This sonnet is part of a short sequence; click here to read it all:

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10 responses to “Sonnet VI: The Peace Prayer

  1. The price of peace is high. The price of freedom is even higher.

    I would like to be able to ask her why she thought the price paid for ending slavery in the United States was too high. What was her name again? Harriet Beecher Stowe?

    (Clearly I’m too lazy/tired to Google tonight)

    Was it a personal reaction to her experiences during the Civil War ~ a kind of spiritual shell shock? Or am I trying to apply my deeply held views of humanity and the ethos of our time to her? I do wonder.

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    • Wasn’t it Meredith Baxter Birney?
      Or… no. Florence Foster Jenkins?
      Wait… Florence Foster Grant?
      ….Linda Moulton Howe? ….

      (Julia Ward Howe) I did not Google, but I believe that is the correct “three namer.”

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    • Though I do not accuse her of malevolence, I think she would answer in the way all evil men answer such questions: Just as she saw in the mirror every day not someone evil, or someone who would do evil (which to all affected parties amounts to the same thing, regrettably) but someone who would make the world a better place, if she might have seen 100 years further in which people were treated as chattel, realising that she had in no small measure contributed to this horror, she would have said:

      “But… I didn’t mean this!!!”

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    • I do not think she could have foreseen it, really. She was, I believe, simply reacting to the horror of the time. Not thinking rationally. That is my guess, at least. I could write another 14 lines about the consequences of beating our swords into ploughshares and then allowing Hitler to further decimate Europe and commit countless millions more to perish than did when the Allies rolled into Berlin in 1945, Not to mention what would have happened in the pacific theatre if we had simply shrugged and went back to our dinner after the Pearl Harbour attacks.

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    • Thank you. Yes, I believe so. I do not think her stance was, by any means, malicious. Anyone–most of all a warrior whether general or the humblest foot soldier–who has seen such death and horror could only wish for it to never happen again. Which is why I used the term “callow.” rather than one implying either malevolence or foolishness. Merely a reaction born of inexperience tempered by shock and horror, and most certainly one many have felt.

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