This poem was written by Nicholas Peters just after the outbreak of the Second World War.
Peters emigrated from Russia in 1925 and had seen first-hand the horrors of revolution and war. He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1942 and trained as a flying officer. He died in March of 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 For peace? 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.
I dream of the day when all of us, governments included, will listen to this soldier’s plea.
Stan Penner, Landmark Manitoba