Oliver Bernard

Poetry on Peace

Oliver Bernard:

Five Peace Poems (1985)

Edited by Peter Y. Chou


waking at five or so to white
sky and various bird beginnings
from exhausting dreams of past
emotional encounters I can
rest at last in a small room

lying still considering
whether to go back to sleep
seeing the sky go colours of
sunrise I begin to wonder
how the tree looks and the wall

downstairs in the shadow of
the houses sleepers lie asleep
in Kenninghall in diss in Mellis
bliss behind the children's eyelids
all alone in morning silence

what is peace if it is not
loving indiscriminately
others? watching over all
human sleep and knowing there's
no need and every need to do so?

what is peace but watching while
being loved and cared for by
the very clouds and trees and grass
nourishing earth and the candid sky
breakneck rivers rising tides?

newspapers at seven o'clock
are laying on the day the grey
word of war and world of worry
all I want's a weather forecast
promising there'll be more weather



Elementary peace, or prep-school peace if you like,
Means that when the boy you are sitting on says I give in,
Or if you prefer him to do it in Latin, PAX,
You stop twisting his arm or strangling him
Or doing perhaps even more unpleasant things
Which of course have to be done, it's a point of honour,
And get off his weedy carcase and let him go
And blub to his mum or grass on you or pretend
He didn't deserve what he got: so long as he knows
That you are the master and he has no cause to rejoice.

Advance peace, or Peace in the Real World,
Is the same. The thing you have to bear in mind
Is this: at the End of the Day it's Up to You
To Make it Stick. Negotiate if you like,
— That is, if you can afford to,— but From Strength.
Remember, peace is not some disgusting form
Of intercourse with all and sundry. Peace
Is a matter of Strong Government. Leadership.
And Peace With Honour Is Worth Fighting For.

Oliver Bernard, Five Peace Poems
Five Seasons Press, Madley, Hereford, UK, 1985, p. 1-2

Notes: The five peace poems were "Peace Poem" (June 1982), Lesson (July 1983),
A Visit to London (Feb. 1984), Mountains (August 1984), Office Work (Sept. 1984)
These were included later in Oliver Bernard's Verse & C.

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