The Great War

from Great Poems of the World War, an electronic edition

The Man Behind

THE band is on the quarter-deck, the starry flag unfurled;

The air is mad with music and with cheers.

The ship is bringing home to us the homage of the world

And writing new our name upon the years.

Her officer is on the bridge; we greet him with hurrahs;

But some one says, "Not he the glory won;

Not he alone who wears the braid, deserves the loud applause,

Oh, don't forget the man behind the gun!"

'Tis said that to embattled seas our ship sailed forth at dawn,

Unheeding shot, unheeding hidden mine;

And through the thunders of the fight went steaming bravely on,

The nation's floating fortress on the brine.

And never throbbing engine stopped, nor parted plate or seam

In all that bloody day from sun to sun;

The good ship sang her battle cry in hissing clouds of steam

To cheer anew the man behind the gun.

I look upon her shining bore, her engine's pulsing heart,

I look upon her bulwarks shaped of steel;

I know there is another art, as great as gunner's art,

That makes the world at arms in homage kneel.

This ship, defying shot and shell, defying winds and seas,

Is fruit of honest labor, rightly done;

The man who built the ship, my lads, remember him, for he's

The man behind the man behind the gun!