by Elizabeth Hare
In poems that are down-to-earth and compassionate, Elizabeth Hare writes of a world where what unites us is more important than what separates us. Based on the poet’s experience, these poems describe, in unforced and engaging writing, wider realities from teaching in London’s East End, to working with homeless people and refugees.
In 1660 six men declared the first version of what has become the Quaker Peace Testimony to the court of Charles II.
To seek peace and to ensue it.
Imagine him, Charles, hearing this
in all his wigged and perfumed finery,
posing in tight silk breeches,
his hands clutching the arms of his chair,
his expression haughty, terrified,
surrounded by the ambitious, the greedy,
holding pomades to their noses.
He listens. He lifts his hand nervously to his neck.
To do what tends to the peace of all.
He is distracted, wary,
but these are not the threatening poor,
the wild-eyed Cromwellians of his nightmares.
These are educated men, plainly dressed,
unnervingly calm. They do not remove their hats.
They do not kneel. They look him in the eye.
Bloody principles and practices we utterly deny.
At these words his soldiers draw in their breath,
shift balance, finger halberds.
The men pause in their discourse.
The moment passes, they continue to speak
gentle, measured words of reason.
Imagine him, Charles, afterwards, walking in the park
not knowing what to make of them,
wondering about what might have been,
this peaceful kingdom conjured by their words.