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A Message of Peace

John Boyle O'Reilly 1844 (Dowth) – 1890 (Boston)

THERE once was a pirate, greedy and bold,
Who ravaged for gain, and saved the spoils;
Till his coffers were bursting with bloodstained gold,
And millions of captives bore his toils.

Then fear took hold of him, and he cried:
'I have gathered enough; now, war should cease!'
And he sent out messengers far and wide
(To the strong ones only) to ask for peace.

'We are Christian brethren!' thus he spake;
'Let us seal a contract—never to fight!
Except against rebels who dare to break
The bonds we have made by the victor's right.'

And the strong ones listen; and some applaud
The kindly offer and righteous word;
With never a dream of deceit or fraud,
They would spike the cannon and break the sword.

But others, their elders, listen, and smile
At the sudden convert's unctuous style.
They watch for the peacemaker's change of way;
But his war-forges roar by night and by day.
Even now, while his godly messengers speak,
His guns are aflame on his enemies weak.
He has stolen the blade from the hand of his foe,
And he strikes the unarmed a merciless blow.

To the ends of the earth his oppression runs;
The rebels are blown from the mouths of his guns;
His war-tax devours his subject's food;
He taxes their evil and taxes their good;
He taxes their salt till he rots their blood.
He leaps on the friendless as on a prey,
And slinks, tail-down, from the strong one's way.
The pharisee' s can’t goes up for peace;
But the cries of his victims never cease;
The stifled voices of brave men rise
From a thousand cells; while his rascal spies
Are spending their blood-money fast and free.

And this is the Christian to oversee
A world of evil! a saint to preach!
A holy well-doer come to teach!
A prophet to tell us war should cease!
A pious example of Christian peace!

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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John Boyle O'Reilly

John Boyle O'Reilly was an Irish-born poet, journalist and fiction writer. more…

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