Hush! list! what wailing o’er the waters come,
The noise of battle soundeth from afar;
Thousands have stray’d who never will get home,
Mingling their curses and their blood in war!
In serried ranks the opposing forces stand,
With deadly hate enthroned upon their brows;
The cannons belch destruction through the land,
Men lie in wait to grasp in death their foes.
See! the red flag unfurled – the flag of death
Is wide extended to the shifting breeze,
And lookers on dare scarcely take their breath,
As now they turn their faces to the seas.
The ships that once were messengers of peace,
And joyful tidings brought from distant lands,
No longer move in graceful stateliness,
To soothe the mind and bless the toiling hands.
Now, laden with the instruments of death,
The leave the ports upon new horrors bent;
And victory weaves their crews a cypress wreath,
For better men below the waves they’ve sent.
O! who can count the tears that wet the eye,
Or tell the pain which heaves the throbbing breast,
For loved ones far away who fainting lie,
With none to lull them to their lasting rest.
O! gracious heaven! and must the world’s fair face
For ever be by human slaughter marr’d;
Must streams of blood the historic page disgrace,
And pure and holy thoughts by vice be scarr’d?
Forbid it Thou who sits enthroned on high,
Who by a word canst make the mountains nod,
Give days of peace and universal joy,
And let me feel their common brotherhood.


Author:Edward Hill

Publication:Bury Guardian

Published in:Bury

Date:May 3 1862

Keywords:, , war


This poem, though it does not explicitly state it, is a commentary on the American Civil war. It calls on God to stop the slaughter and re-establish the opposing sides’ ‘common brotherhood’. Like many pacifist poems published during this period, it does not address the issue of slavery, secession, or any of the actual causes of the war, opting instead for moral and critical reduction. – SR