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Waging Peace

Waging Peace Poems

September 21, 2009 will mark the International Day of Peace. At Voices we'd like to get a head start on collecting poems, quotes, pictures, capturing video and recording activities on how to Wage Peace.


Please lend your voice to our efforts! If you are an educator and you have a curriculum to share that speaks to building peace, please pass it along. Here are 2 poems to start our collection. They are a part of our up-coming World War II poetry collection that will be available on our Resources page soon.


Untitled Poem by William Stafford

This is the field where the battle did not happen,

where the Unknown Soldier did not die.

This is the field where grass joined hands,

where no monument stands,

and the only heroic thing is the sky.


Birds fly here without any sound,

unfolding their wings across the open.

No people killed – or were killed – on this ground

hollowed by the neglect of an air so tame

that people celebrate it by forgetting its name.



The End and the Beginning by Wislawa Szymborska

After every war

someone has to clean up.

Things won't

straighten themselves up, after all.

Someone has to push the rubble

to the sides of the road,

so the corpse-laden wagons can pass.


Someone has to get mired

in scum and ashes,


splintered glass,

and bloody rags.


Someone must drag in a girder

to prop up a wall.

Someone must glaze a window,

rehang a door.


Photogenic it's not,

and takes years.

All the cameras have left

for another war.


Again we'll need bridges

and new railway stations.


Sleeves will go ragged

from rolling them up.

Someone, broom in hand,

still recalls how it was.

Someone listens

and nods with unsevered head.

Yet others milling about

already find it dull.


From behind the bush

sometimes someone still unearths

rust-eaten arguments

and carries them to the garbage pile.


Those who knew

what was going on here

must give way to

those who know little.

And less than little.

And finally as little as nothing.


In the grass which has overgrown

causes and effects,

someone must be stretched out,

blade of grass in his mouth,

gazing at the clouds.


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