Beaten Down by Life

Evgeniy Vuchetich, “Let Us Beat Swords into Plowshares”

Evgeniy Vuchetich, “Let Us Beat Swords into Plowshares”

For a change of pace, here is one of my father’s thought-provoking fables about a ploughshare that was once a sword. The reference is to the Book of Isaiah (2:3-4):

And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Although Scott Bates was a lifelong member of the War Resisters League and very much in favor of turning swords into ploughshares, in this poem the image seems more about how youthful ambitions are beaten down by the responsibilities and realities of life. Those of us who are older can ruefully look back at what we once thought was possible.

The Ploughshare and the Sword

By Scott Bates

A Ploughshare bent
With labor heard
A Sword who bragged
With every word
Look at me said he
So debonair
My razor wit
Can split a hair
My soul is bright
My arm is thick
My tongue is sharp
My laughter quick
By rich red wine
I’m satisfied

I once was a Sword
The Ploughshare sighed

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  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

    Please feel free to e-mail me [rrbates (at) smcm (dot) edu]. I would be honored to hear your thoughts and questions about literature.

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