Leaving the War Behind

Written by: Taylor Graham

Leaving the War Behind
for Elihu Burritt, peacemaker

The cannon thundered in the South,
    	And with the sound
     	The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men! 
- H. W. Longfellow,  “Christmas Bells”

1863, your old friend Longfellow almost 
despairing. What a year! The Union 
torn. Chancellorsville. War’s ravenous mouth. 
And then came Vicksburg, Gettysburg. 
The whole land lay in a bloody drouth,
the cannon thundered in the South,

and Elihu, you sailed away. For years 
you let the ink flow like a sea 
to float the cause of Peace. Yet you found 
no peace at home. Was it a personal 
surrender, to be England-bound?
And with the sound
     
of waves and seabirds, did you leave 
behind the burden of a homeland 
north to south a battleground?
Could a foreign landscape comfort 
you? Or did war images confound – 
the carols drowned

in military march-time in your head? 
As summer waned, the loss of Chickamauga. 
Brother killing brother in a marshy fen. 
Elihu, did you never quite give up 
the distant hope – oh where, and when? – 
of peace on earth, good-will to men?