Wednesday 2 January 2019

Universal Peace

"Ah! when shall all men’s good
 Be each man’s rule, and universal peace
 Lie like a shaft of light across the land?"
 — Tennyson.

I hear the bells on New Year’s Day
   Chime forth their joyful peals of praise;
With them a voice which seems to say —
   The time foretold in ancient days
At last is come, when war shall cease,
The reign of universal peace.

Too long this fine old world has been
   A battleground — a world of blood;
Too long the evil and unclean
   Have ruled out universal good;
Ah! when shall man with man agree,
From Orient to Western sea?

The old year, did it see the end.
   The final phase of cruel war?
Universal Peace! descend.
   And heal this world of wound and scar,
And quench the smould’ring fires of hate,
That war may die out — even late.

The opening year with joy we hail —
   Sweet harbinger of times at hand,
When, man no more shall man assail,
   But all men’s good in ev'ry land.
Shall be the rule, and ev’ry race
Shall join evil to efface.

O glad New Year! we welcome thee,
   So long foretold, so long delayed;
From land to land and sea to sea,
   May this year see a world remade,
And universal good increase,
And bring in universal peace.

The world is wide and beautiful,
   In ev’ry zone rich gifts abound,
And under nature's peaceful rule
   A plenitude for all is found;
But lust and might and selfish greed
The gentle steps of peace impede.

Ah! when shall man the rights of man,
   His brother, justly recognise,
And learn his brother’s wrongs to scan,
   His grievances no more despise,
Undo the bonds, the opprest release,
And bring in universal peace.

The past sad time of blood and tears,
   So filled with horror, pain, and woe,
Should teach mankind in future years
   How great the many ills that flow
From cruel war and all its train,
And hasten sure of peace the reign.

The world has wrongs yet unredrest —
   Humanity, so sad, so pained,
With heavy burdens crushed, opprest,
   So patient — of its life’s blood drained
Cries out with voices near and far —
The time is past for cruel war.

No time for war, but only time
   To widen freedom's bounds and see
That ev'ry man in ev'ry clime
   Has equal rights and liberty —
Knit in a common brotherhood,
Whose rule is universal good.

No time for war, but time to make
   This world a paradise on earth,
The social ills uproot, and break
   Down barriers of pride and birth,
And usher in with gladsome strain
Of universal peace the reign.

No time for war, but only time
   The victories of peace to win,
With actions noble and sublime —
   To trample down the vice, the sin,
Approve the right, the wrong decrease
And bring in universal peace.

Universal Peace! come down,
   The world has waited long for thee
Descend, ilumine, soothe, and crown
   Our struggling, sad humanity;
All pains relieve, all bonds release,
And tarry with us, blessed Peace.

I hear the bells on New Year’s Day,
   I listen to their pleasing chimes,
Which speak to me and seem to say –
   Arrived at last the glad new times,
So long delayed, when war shall cease,
The reign of universal peace.

R. C. MacBRIDE, B.A.
Ardmore Villas, Ballymena, New Year's Day, 1919.

Poem: The Witness, 3 January 1919

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