The Clara Barton Museum Blog

Give Us Our Peace

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This week’s Art and War blog post features Langston Hughes, who was born 114 years ago today.

In August of 1945, Hughes wrote about the type of peace he wanted to come out of World War II.

Give Us Our Peace

Give us a peace equal to the war
Or else our souls will be unsatisfied,
And we will wonder what we have fought for
And why the many died.


Give us a peace of accepting every challenge –
The challenge of the poor, the black, of all denied,
The challenge of the vast colonial world
That long has had so little justice by its side.


Give us a peace that dares us to be wise.
Give us a peace that dares us to be strong.
Give us a peace that dares us still uphold
Throughout the peace our battle against wrong.


Give us a peace that is not cheaply used,
A peace that is no clever scheme,
A people’s peace for which men can enthuse,
A peace that brings reality to our dream.


Give us a peace that will produce great schools –
As the war produced great armament,
A peace that will wipe out our slums –
As war wiped out our foes on evil bent.


Give us a peace that will enlist
A mighty army serving human kind,
Not just an army geared to kill,
But trained to help the living mind.


An army trained to shape our common good
And bring about a world of brotherhood.

Usually I provide some commentary on the poem, but today I’m just going to let the poem speak for itself.


Bonus Poem:

Hughes also wrote a poem about today’s Google Doodle subject, Frederick Douglass.

Frederick Douglass: 1817-1895

Douglass was someone who,
Had he walked with wary foot
And frightened tread,
From very indecision
Might be dead,
Might have lost his soul,
But instead decided to be bold
And capture every street,
On which he set his feet,
To route each path
Toward freedom’s goal,
To make each highway
Choose his compass’ choice
To all the world cried,
Hear my voice!…
Oh, to be a beast, a bird,
Anything but a slave! he said.


Who would be free
Themselves must strike
The first blow, he said.


He died in 1895.
He is not dead.

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