The Great War

from Great Poems of the World War, an electronic edition

The Song of the Guns

HEAR the guns, hear the guns!

High above the splutter-sputter

Of the Maxim, and the stutter

Of the rifles, hear them shrieking.

See the searching shells come sneaking,

Softly speaking,

Slyly seeking,

Thirsting, bursting, shrapnel-leaking

Where the ranks are thickest-tearing

Mighty gaps among the daring.

Charging horse and rider stumble,

And brigades fall in a jumble;

Earthworks crumble,

Standards tumble,

And the driving bayonets fumble,

But unsated,

Still the hated

Cannon thunder, unabated.

Hear them rumble,

Hear them grumble,

Hear the old song of the guns!

"Send your sons,

Send your sons,

All your near ones,

All your dear ones;

Give us food!

Give us food!

Give the strongest of your brood.

Let us feed!

Let us feed!

On the bravest that you breed.

Give us meat,

Give us meat,

Oh, the blood of Valor's sweet!"

And the women make reply:

Ah, the glory of the lie--

"Look, no tear is in our eye.

Rather would we see you die

For your country, than stand by.

Rather would we boast to tell

To your children that you fell,

Than to have you lurk and sell

Honor for a coward's breath;

Better far the soldier's death.

Go and battle for the land.

Make a stand!

Make a stand!

Go and join the dauntless band.

Take a hand!

Take a hand!

Count not us--God will provide!"

Thus the women in their pride

Mask their hearts--their anguish hide.

Thus the mother and the bride

Bid their men to march and ride To the guns,

Hungry guns,

Rumbling, grumbling for their sons.

Thus the women ever give,

Give their nearest, dearest ones

At the summons of the guns.

What is war to men--theydie.

But the widowed women, aye,

To the end alone, mustlive.