Editor: With Remembrance Day again approaching, you may be looking for suitable items to publish. Please consider this poem.
The poem was written by Nicholas Peters, just after the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. Peters, who lived for some years at Grande Pointe, Manitoba, had emigrated from Russia in 1925 as a boy of 10 and had seen firsthand the horrors of revolution and war in his native country.
He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1942 and trained as a flying officer. He died on the night of March 7-8, 1945, after his aircraft was hit by enemy fire. The poem is from a collection of Peters’ work entitled Another Morn.
The Peters family has given permission to have the poem published.
The Wars We Make
I gaze into the world with sorrowing eyes
And see the wide-abounding fruits of hate.
We fight, we say, for peace, and find
The wars we make
To be a spring of hate and source of future wars.
Is there no peace for man
No hope that this accursed flow
Of blood may cease
Is this our destiny: to kill and maim
Or is this `peace’ we strive to gain
A thin unholy masquerade
Which, when our pride, our greed, our gain is
touched too far,
Is shed, and stands uncovered what we are?
Show me your light, O God
That I may fight for peace with peace
And not with war;
To prove my love with love,
And hate no more!
Some 20 years ago, my wife and I stood beside Peters’ grave in an Allied war cemetery in Germany, with a huge sword on a cross backdrop, and, as I read the poem out loud, we grieved for him and the countless others buried there “row on row” in those graveyards of Europe.
Quietly they lie now, sometimes friend and foe close together ,with so much of life still waiting to be lived.
Most of the last verse of Peters’ poem is inscribed on his tombstone with “me” and “I” changed to “us” and “we.
Show us your light, O God,
That we may fight
For peace with peace
And not with war.
I dream of the day when all of us, governments included, will listen to this soldier’s plea.