The Sword And The Sheath

In times of war I should like a viking
to fight on behalf of my beloved people,
but in times of peace Christ could be my king
to forbid blades beneath a beckoning steeple.

In times of vengeance I should like a knight
felling an evil man given to wicked acts,
but in times of justice I wish the right
to a lawyer and jury to hear out the facts.

In times of defense I want samurais
to stand as one, together, their katanas drawn,
but in times of calm we would be quite wise
to heed the Buddha with every rising dawn.

Know that I do not seek to draw a blade
from out its soothing, silent, sleepy sheath,
no more than I wish anyone be bade
to lay upon a coffin a funeral wreath.

Nor am I a man of contrary minds,
contradicting himself with his convenient turns.
Of necessities there are many kinds:
those of peace, war, mercy, and death, or so one learns.

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