Peace in literature is often explored in three forms. Peace between peoples: the absence of war. Tales of soldiers, warriors. Told from the side-lines, or articulated by those who went to battle themselves – and civilians, caught in the conflict.
Those that survived published verses on the butchery, and camaraderie, they had seen. The poets of the first would war would write of the folly of conflict, how men were revealed as monsters. They could hardly imagine a better tomorrow. And yet for many poets, the hope of peace perseveres.
Then there’s inner peace – serenity. It means freedom from worry, exalting the value of enduring contentment over everything else. But it can also be reflected in the ability to exercise autonomy, even if for only a few moments in the day. Here you’ll find blissful verses, teeming with gentle joy, gratefully appreciated.
And at last there’s tranquillity, the sort found in nature. The cyclical rhythms of the sea. Birdsong. Perhaps a time when everything comes to a standstill, a pulsating city taking a breath once in a while.
So many forms of literature are built on conflict – narrative demands it. But poetry can be a simple expression of a time and a place. It is allowed the freedom to pause. We hope you might put aside your worries and do the same – here are some of the best peace poems ever written.