If Shakespeare is alive today, it is because
he has produced in his plays the social, political,
economic, moral and scientific ideas of his times.
He has proven that a literature that does not
reflect the spirit of its time cannot be of a great
and lasting nature…
Writers and poets can influence people because they are involved with every
aspect of life, including newspapers, radio and TV. They write novels, stories
and articles, and even speeches for business executives and politicians. It is
hard to think of even a single corner of modern life where they are not involved
in one way or another. Consequently, they are in a strong position to educate
their readers, although this may be a slow process. However, it is a lasting and
quiet way to influence the thinking of the reader.
Several organizations all over the world deserve congratulations from writers
and poets for organizing worthwhile events to foster world harmony. It is not
the job of one or two individuals to arrange those gatherings of poets. It is
also not the result of a week or a month's preparations. Rather, it needs
money-consuming and time-consuming activities over months and years. We have to
be thankful to organizers for arranging those successful festivals of poets from
all over the world.
To promote world peace and to condemn war, I have edited two volumes of an
anthology, titled Anti-War Poems. This anthology expresses the hopes, the
dreams, the fears and frustrations of poets. Vesta Publications Limited released
part one in 1984. I did not realize the result would be that encouraging when I
started spreading the gospel of the anthology. News media turned out to be
extremely cooperative beyond my imagination.
To be fair to others whom I was not able to approach for lack of time and means,
I decided to edit the second volume, which was released by Vesta in 1986. It was
the encouragement that I had received from the contributors and readers of the
first volume that led me to the even greater pleasure of editing the second
volume. The pains and the pleasures that I experienced are comparable to those
of an expectant mother. The joys and sufferings she goes through, particularly
at the time of giving birth to a new soul, are not easy to describe. The same
applies to the birth of a book, and to the process that leads to its preparation
and eventually to its publication.
I received six thousand submissions from eight countries for the first volume.
In the beginning, I had planned to select two or three poems from each poet. Due
to a large number of submissions and lack of space, I had to select only one
poem of any poet. In this way, I was able to choose one hundred and twenty
contributors for the first volume. The total number of submissions for the
second volume was more than seven thousand. As in the first volume, I selected
only one poem per contributor. I admit that there were many good submissions for
both volumes. It was painful for me to return many of them. I also choose the
shorter pieces. The logic behind this selection was to give a chance to as many
poets as possible to be heard.
The first volume is the voice of one hundred and twenty poets from eight
countries. The second volume is the voice of more than two hundred poets from
fifteen nations-- all condemning war and promoting world peace. They unanimously
strive to build a bridge of understanding and goodwill. Some of the poets in
both volumes have fought in a war and have seen its ugly head. Those who never
went to a war are also aware of its destructive nature. Both anthologies
represent the voice of very young poets who are in their teens and the voice of
those who belong to older generations. Both anthologies represent the voice of
wives and lovers also. The mothers, who produce world leaders and soldiers, have
not lagged behind in their condemnation of war. They do not want their children
to be crippled and maimed and die slowly in far-off lands, or in their own.
The poems of both volumes display different moods from love and anger to utter
despair. The anthology includes beginners who had produced at that time only a
handful of poems, and professionals who have many titles to their credit. Poets
have come from different political regimes, geographical conditions and
historical backgrounds. Some are rebellious, some angry and some in despair.
They employ different metaphors, symbols and poetic expressions. Their moods are
different and so are their metres. They all are concerned for the safety of
humankind. All are aware of the existing dangers that could explode into a
holocaust unequalled in the past. They raise their voice on one platform to try
to save the world and to make it safer and better place to live. Many poets
express their dissatisfaction with their rulers; they are suspicious of world
leaders and express their fears. Their explanations and symbols are different.
The main thread that unites all these poets is their hatred for violence. They
all yearn for peace, expressing it directly or indirectly. These poets, the
messengers of peace, join the voice of thousands of other organizations for the
achievement of peace and sanity in the world.
It was not a great surprise to me to receive most submissions from the United
States. It was also not a surprise that most letters of good wishes and
encouragement were also from that country. Here is a nation that possesses the
most advanced and sophisticated weapons of destruction. At the same time, its
poet and citizens are concerned about world peace. The United States has
numerous groups and organizations that are fighting for peace.
Response to the anthology from other nations, except Canada, was not so
encouraging. One factor responsible seems to be the communication problem. After
all, this anthology was the work of only one person. So, there were limitations
as far as time and money and manpower are concerned. Several of those countries
may not have facilities for translation into English. It also seems to be a
reason that poets of those nations are concerned more about hunger and shelter
than anything else, because these are the real and urgent problems for them at
My research for antiwar poems has strengthened my conviction that individuals
all over the world have the same dreams and aspirations and are beset with the
same fears and suspicions. They may have religious and geographical differences,
but they think and behave alike. In every corner of the globe there are souls
who are worried over the future of humankind.
This conviction of mine is linked closely with another conviction that the world
is growing smaller day-by-day, almost as if it were becoming a city, where the
residents know the main daily happenings. In other words, science has shrunk our
universe and now distant places have become sections of the same city.
Writers are like every human being. They clamour for peace as people all over
the world do. It confirms T.S. Eliot who said "the soul of a nation, true ideals
of its civilization, a real message of the people's inner self, is expressed in
its literature; that the authors are the legislators, though unacknowledged of
mankind ... The poets form a spiritual community binding together, Living and
the Dead, the Good, the Brave and the wise of all ages."
A poet cannot live in an ivory tower forever. If today Shakespeare is alive, it
is also because he has produced in his plays social, political, economic, moral
and scientific ideas of his times. He has proved that a literature which does
not reflect the spirits of the time cannot be great and of lasting nature. Even
in Paradise Lost, which is timeless, John Milton expresses the moral
controversies of the Protestants and the Roman Catholics, which plagued the time
and sent a British king to gallows.
Today, the world is torn asunder with fear and hatred. There is still a grave
danger of another war that may annihilate our civilization. There is a need for
harmony and oneness of humankind. True writers cannot turn their backs to this
reality, like the Lady of Shallot.
It is very encouraging that several groups have been providing this platform and
I am sure that poets and writers will continue providing leadership and a
climate for the further growth of peace and harmony.
Apart from unity and platform, it is important that those poets and writers who
have been working to promote peace should be recognized formally. We know that
many national governments will not be interested in such projects nor will our
political leaders. Therefore, this responsibility falls on the shoulders of
poets and writers because they understand the importance of their role for
ANTIWAR POEMS (anthology). Edited with introduction by
–volume one :
120 contributors from seven nations. Hardcover, 186 pages, 7" x 8.50". Reg.
35.00, reduced to $10.00. ISBN :
0-919301-86-6, July 1984;
More than one hundred contributors from seventeen nations. Hardcover, 237 pages,
7" x 8.50" Reg. $40.00, reduced to $10.00. ISBN : 0-919301-08-8, March 1986.
Add $5.00 for packing and shipping:
Vesta Publications Ltd., Box 1641, Cornwall, Ont. K6H 5R9 Canada.