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AND WHO SHALL JUDGE?
by Quiet Seagull
"And he shall judge among nations, and shall rebuke many
people: and they
shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning
hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they
learn war any anymore." Isaiah 2:4
And we prayed for that time of judgment,
and, in time's stream, we dreamed it had come.
Many times we dreamed, many times we rejoiced,
"Peace, peace," and we gloried in peace, those respites
from recurring war, those glorious islands,
those green oases,
but on the other side of island or oasis,
came the fire of the desert or billowing tide,
But in those interludes, those glorious time spaces,
we lived our dreams, blind to truth,
blind and deaf to the drums,
the low, low beat of drums,
beating, beating, inexorably beating.
We danced and made merry.
We danced to the flute, piped by our dream-piper,
piped by the piper of our hope,
piped by the piper of our hearts,
for we wished no evil.
And we saw no evil, nor did we hear
evil in the drums, the low, low beat
of the oncoming drums.
We heard no evil, and happily believed the wishful cry,
"There is peace, there is peace."
We dared to believe, we dared to suppose
our lives could be merry and never cease,
to be happy and joyous and even serene,
so far were we from the oncoming stream,
and the low drum beat of the oncoming drums.
We would not believe our joy was fleeting,
evanescent, transient, and only between,
the repeating scourge of mankind's worst work,
inspired by hate, and often by fear,
when reason took flight, judgment suspended,
demagogues exalted, nations berserk.
Louder and louder and closer it came,
the drum beat, an undertow of different rhythm.
We danced faster and faster; our pipers piped shrill.
Our horns blared louder, but underneath all,
came the grim, slow bass, the low, low bass, the grim drum beat
of oncoming evil.
Someone awakened from the delerious state,
and as the party swirled round her, she listened in wonder.
She listened and through the merriment heard
the relentless beat of the oncoming drums.
She raced among us and shrieked an alarm,
but she was swept aside as Cassandra was.
"Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw
them come up: beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks
spears." Joel 3:9-10.
But we were merry, time and again,
and we turned from the prophet,
time and again. Time and again,
we turned from the prophet,
and on marched the drums, time and again,
and on marched the drums, time and again.
A few now aroused, took up the cry,
"Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks
into spears," but time and again, merrily dancing,
we scoffed and drank wine and covered our ears.
For the dance was so merry and full of joy,
we were blind to the danger, deaf to the bass
of the oncoming drums about to employ
evil among us, death and destruction,
anguish and pain.
Blind to danger, deaf to the drums, many in anger,
clung to their dreams, put trust in their hopes, and also their
Blind to the danger, deaf to the drums, in their final seduction
they plaintively cried:
"They have seduced my people, saying, Peace; and there was no
And the drums rolled forward and
enveloped us all, and the world burned hot, with fires of war.
Reason took flight, hate conquered love,
and each man strove to murder his brother.
No one could say who would survive,
and no one could say who would live,
nor who could judge, who should win out,
nor who could judge, who should go on,
who should float down the river of time,
whose life should be happy, whose life sublime.
When the battles were ended, plowshares restored,
the dancing began just as before,
and merrily whirling always we sang,
"Peace, we have peace," such a happy refrain!
© 2001, Quill & Parchment Productions
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