Peace Cultures

Stuart Rees Poem: "Artists for Peace"

Stuart Rees is co-author, with Daisaku Ikeda, of the 2018 Dialogue Path Press title, Peace, Justice, and the Poetic Mind. His 2011 poem “Artists for Peace” nicely distills key themes from that book. Dr. Rees is professor emeritus at the University of Sydney and former director of the Sydney Peace Foundation. Born in England, he was the founding director of Sydney’s Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies and served in that position for eighteen years.

Artists for Peace

In their language of disbelief
at centuries of carnage, coupled
to endless “lest we forgets,”
they are drawing town squares
with no future need
for crosses and memorials.

Mind deep in the possibilities
of painting over the small print
of defence budgets, they reveal men
more capable of healing
than destroying, more in love
with creation than destruction.

Like a mother guarding her nest,
the composer crafting his ode to joy,
parties for the prodigals or
a pacifist defying tanks,
they are sketching balm for living
through fulfillment without harm

Their brush strokes suggest
life rhymes and celebrations —
a forest’s glades, the wonder of whales,
kookaburras laughing, dolphins dancing,
and are heeding the ex soldier’s
refrain, — “never again.”

Their companions are poets and potters,
musicians and dancers
who strive towards a being
which imagines no more fighting for bread,
no more mourning for unnecessary
burying of the dead.

By conquering with violins
not hand grenades, by remembering
the eternity of trees
and the happiness of flowers,
they are showing how
to taste victories without wars.

From emotions gained
by gazing at Guernica,
they encourage a Gandhi vision
of a gallery in every mind,
which always displays justice,
which always finds a space for peace.

SR - From Fremantle WA, Sunday, October 2, 2011