The swinging sixties: in the west, they began in the late 1950s and ended in the early 1970s. The Cold War and the war in Vietnam were part of life, and brought new words and phrases into the English language: 'body count'; 'cluster bomb'; 'compassion fatigue'; 'confrontation' meaning hostility; CS gas and defoliation, Minuteman and neutron bomb, defoliation, non-proliferation, nuke and gunship; 'surgical strike', and hawks.
But this was also the decade of peace marches and demonstrations, love-ins and sit-downs, peaceniks and flower people, freedom rides, Hare Krishna, kaftans, Afghan coats, love beads, and doves. And the Beatles, of course.
Like Dave Cunliffe, the writer of this poem, many people turned to eastern religions and practices to dissociate themselves from war.
The founder of Buddhism, born over 2,600 years ago in India, was a prince, but at the age of 30 gave up the luxuries of court life and the pleasures of marriage to become a hermit. After years of what the modern world calls 'the simple life', he came to the conclusion that meditation and contemplation were the way to enlightenment. He also preached the pacifist and nonviolent doctrine of 'ahimsa': doing no harm to living creatures.
Love of that all-embracing kind seemed (and still seems) to many people to be the only answer to aggression, confrontation and war. 'Make love not war' could be taken further: 'Make war against war'.
One poet remembered that 10 years back, in 1957, a brother poet 'was challenging poets to react to nuclear warfare, inviting us to resist our rulers. I remember at the time thinking - "well, I am reacting in my poems". Then I thought - "and nobody knows it".' In the 1960s poets of America and Britain stood up, declared their war on war, and were counted.