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Charles Mackay: Hung the sword in the hall, the spear on the wall


Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

British writers on peace and war

Charles Mackay: Awake the song of peace!

Charles Mackay: War in all men’s eyes shall be a monster of iniquity


Charles Mackay
From Tubal Cain

Old Tubal Cain was a man of might
In the days when earth was young:
By the fierce red light of his furnace bright
The strokes of his hammer rung;
And he lifted high his brawny hand
On the iron glowing clear,
Till the sparks rush’d out in scarlet showers,
As he fashion’d the sword and spear.
And he sang – “Hurrah for my handiwork!
Hurrah for the spear and sword!
Hurrah for the hand that shall wield them well,
For he shall be king and lord!”


But a sudden change came o’er his heart
Ere the setting of the sun,
And Tubal Cain was fill’d with pain
For the evil he had done;
He saw that men, with rage and hate,
Made war upon their kind,
That the land was red with the blood they shed
In their lust for carnage, blind.
And he said – “Alas! that ever I made,
Or that skill of mine should plan,
The spear and the sword for men whose joy
Is to slay their fellow-man!”

And for many a day old Tubal Cain
Sat brooding o’er his woe;
And his hand forebore to smite the ore,
And his furnace smoulder’d low.
But he rose at last with a cheerful face,
And a bright courageous eye,
And bared his strong right arm for work,
While the quick flames mounted high.
And he sang – “Hurrah for my handiwork!”
And the red sparks lit the air;
“Not alone for the blade was the bright steel made;”
And he fashion’d the first ploughshare!

And men, taught wisdom from the past,
In friendship join’d their hands,
Hung the sword in the hall, the spear on the wall,
And plough’d the willing lands;
And sang – “Hurrah for Tubal Cain!
Our stanch good friend is he;
And for the ploughshare and the plough
To him our praise shall be…”

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