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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was the most famous American of his time. His subject matter was as vast as his popularity, and his poems were widely memorized well into the middle of the last century. We print one of his most famous today. Though it may seem dated, the despair of a country divided is timeless. Do we not need to be reminded that humanity, with all its hopes for and intentions of good will, has yet to lose its fear-based suspicions and hatreds?

We offer “Christmas Bells” as food for thought and perhaps even material for discussion. It comes to one and all with deepest wishes for lasting peace for women and men and children the whole world over.

 

Christmas Bells

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
   And wild and sweet
   The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
   Had rolled along
   The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
   A voice, a chime,
   A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
   And with the sound
   The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
   And made forlorn
   The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
   “For hate is strong,
   And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
   The Wrong shall fail,
   The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

                                    Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807 – 1882

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