The Invitation to Universal Peace*

Poem by Jan D. Hodge

Then said Scheherazade:


Voice-of-the-Dawn, who was

known for his wisdom, one

morning was walking when


certainly one of those


meetings not pleasing to

wandering cocks.


Frantically flapping, he

managed a tentative

refuge on top of a

rotten old fence,

where he probed possible


from a dilemma so

parlously tense.


With the approach of morning, Scheherazade

fell silent.  But when the seven-hundred-and-

ninety-sixth night had come, she resumed:


"Peace be upon you, my

brother," said Fox. When the

cock answered nothing, he

added, "You choose

not to address me. Your


hurts, for I come but to

bring you good news.


"Lion and Eagle have

issued an edict that

all of the beasts, whether

feathered or furred,

live in benevolent


I’ve been appointed to

carry the word.


"Tiger and antelope,

jackel and basilisk,

hawk and hyena and

pigeon and dove—

all shall inhabit a


garden of peace and of

brotherly love.


"Old animosities

must be forgotten and

any recidivist

will be condemned."

Fox’s rhetorical


being depleted, his

fancy was stemmed.                  


Still hearing nothing, he

snapped, "And unless you em-

brace me, the fiat will

not be fulfilled.

Peace must become the new


even if half of us

have to be killed."


During these palpable


Voice-of-the-Dawn was too

anxious to crow.

His mind was otherwhere,


mulling a method to

outfox his foe.


"Pardon, my friend. I meant

no impoliteness, but

as you were talking," he

answered at last,

"I was distraught by some


something approaching and

coming on fast."


"Is it a greyhound?" asked

Fox with a tremor. "It

might be . . . I think so . . . a

beast of that breed."

"That’s disconcerting, for


he wasn’t thought of when

peace was decreed.


"Brother, I leave you. That

pimp of a greyhound can

never be trusted." With

that he was gone.

Mocking the fox’s own


proved the salvation of



Then pronounced Shahryar:


Ah, the unspeakable


balderdash only the

shameless commit!

Praise to Allah when such


cunning is routed by

wisdom and wit!


*adapted from The Thousand Nights  and One Night,

  trans. Powys Mathers from the French of J. C. Mardrus

  [New York:St. Martin’s, 1972], III, 515-18.