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Three Poems on Nonviolence

Philip Britts

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Philip Britts (1917-1949) was a scientist, poet, and pacifist, who wrote these poems during World War II.

White Lamb

That my white lamb is being carried off
In steel-like talons to the unknown hills
And is a lost speck only, in the sky –
That is not the chief thing;

Or that I did not have the strength or skill
To drive off the attacker, to defeat
Merciless claw and swift unerring beak
Or shattering wing;

But my fist is smashed and bloody
And my arm is a scarlet rag,
Showing I struck at the eagle . . .
And that is the chief thing.

Philip Britts,1941

Down the Years

Down the years a murmur runneth,
Bleeding hearts that wince in pain,
While the boasting politicians
Vaunt the claims of man in vain.

Building cities, stone on stubble,
Seeking safety in their might,
Till they grind the men to rubble
With their bombers of the night.

Through the earth there runs a challenge
Clearer than the trumpet call:
"Oh, forsake your ancient folly,
Build the Brotherhood of all.

"Seek the city that God buildeth,
City of the heart and hand,
Not beyond the grave of shadow,
Here on earth, in your own land."

Philip Britts, 1944

There is a Calling

There is a calling in the ears of men –
A wind that whistles in the city street,
Calling them back, to long-forgotten ways,
Blowing the sands of havoc 'round their feet.

There is a vision in the eyes of men –
Of fair wide fields, where gleams the honest plough,
Guided by hands of brotherhood and peace,
Far other than the hands that guide it now.

There is a struggle in the hearts of men –
A groping of the lonely in the fight,
Urging them on a road but dimly seen,
Towards faint music and a distant light.

O may that music swell, that light increase,
And hearts be strengthened in the inward strife,
That men may hear, and see, and struggle on,
Seek a new world, and find a truer life.

Philip Britts, 1946

Philip Britts
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