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 present.

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 peace.


ANTIWAR POEMS (anthology). Edited with introduction by Stephen Gill.

–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;

–volume two:
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.