artist and sculptor, Cai Guo-Qiang. Among his work lay an immense, several-hundred-year-old eucalypt tree that (although dead) had been ‘rescued’ (roots and all) from land that was being cleared for residential development. As the guide spoke of the meanings of this beautiful (but dead) tree - as a statement and work of art - she spoke of all the spiritual symbolism associated with trees: the tree of life, the family tree, the tree of the cross, the strength of a tree and so on. I almost called out, ‘What about the tree of Peace’? before I realised that the song (or is it a hymn?) is no longer heard.
The last verse of the hymn (I’m now sure it’s a hymn) is unforgettable:
‘Then shall all shackles fall; the stormy clangor
Of wild war music o’er the earth shall cease;
Love shall tread out the baleful fire of anger,
And in its ashes plant the tree of peace.’
Later that day I realised that school children no longer sing the words of ‘The Strangest Dream’, that goes something like this:
Last night I had the strangest dream
I ever had before
I dreamed the world had all agreed
to put an end to war…’
Later still, I remembered the unforgettable banner held aloft in the musical, ‘HAIR’, way back in the 60s, that read, ‘Fighting for peace is like f---ing for chastity’
My sentiments entirely. But that was long ago, in what was termed ‘the Age of Aquarius’, when people were becoming weary of war (in Vietnam) and pinning their hopes on the ‘new age’.
But now, all that is forgotten – just like the songs and hymns of Peace – and war is being raged in many parts of the world over ideologies and (sometimes) for inexplicable reasons.
The last verse (I have just found in a music book) of The Strangest Dream, goes:
‘And the people in the streets below
were dancing ‘round and ‘round
and swords and guns and uniforms
were scattered on the ground.’
Last night I had the strangest dream……
And, as the Beatles said, ‘All you need is love’.