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William Herbert Carruth: When the Cannon Booms

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

American writers on peace and against war

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William Herbert Carruth
When the Cannon Booms

When the cannon booms,
When the war-drums rattle fiercely
And the feet of men in khaki hammer time out on the pave,
It is easy to be brave;
It is easy to believe that God is angry with the other Man, our brother,
And has left the sword of Gideon in our wayward human hand,
When the cannon booms.

When the cannon booms,
When the primal love of fighting stirs the tiger in our blood,
And the fascinating smell
Of the sulphur-fumes of hell
Rouses memories of the pit from which our human nature rose,

It is easy to forget
God was not found in the earthquake, in the strong wind or the fire;
It is easy to forget how at last the prophet heard Him
As a still, small voice,
When the cannon booms.

When the cannon booms,
When the war-lords strut and swagger
And the battle-ships are plowing for the bitter crop of death,
While the shouting rends the ear,
Echoing from the empyrean,
It is difficult to hear
Through the din the Galilean
With his calm voice preaching peace on earth to men;
‘Twill be easier to claim,
If we will, the Christian name,
To become as little children and be men of gentle will,
When the cannon booms – the cannon booms – no more.

 

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